Evangelical Pastors and Leaders from all 50 States Urge Protection for Children, Respect for U.S. Asylum Laws
July 17, 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. — More than 1,350 evangelical pastors and leaders have signed a letter to the president, vice president and members of Congress, urging them to respect U.S. laws that protect children and families seeking asylum.
The signatories represent all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The letter, which the Evangelical Immigration Table originally sent in late June in response to widespread reports of troubling conditions for children held in governmental custody, also speaks specifically to the importance of respecting U.S. asylum laws.
The letter urges governmental leaders to “[r]espect and enforce the protections of U.S. asylum laws, ensuring that no one with a credible fear of torture or persecution ‘on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion’ is returned to their country of origin or forced to remain in unsafe third countries, and that all asylum seekers are afforded due process and treated humanely throughout the process.”
The letter expresses concern with policies that “greatly reduce the possibility that these families will be able to receive a truly just and fair chance at receiving asylum.”
The sending of the letter comes just a day after the administration implemented a new “interim final rule” to dramatically restrict asylum eligibility for individuals who come through the U.S.-Mexico border.
The following are quotes from national evangelical leaders responding to the interim final rule restricting asylum:
Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals:
“The United States has a long and proud history of offering protection to refugees fleeing persecution, with some tragic exceptions. In the 1930s we sent Jews back to Nazi Germany. Let’s not assume that those escaping persecution, violence, rape and murder in Central America will all be safe in Mexico; many won’t. They should be allowed to apply for protection here, since this is the law established by Congress.”
Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief:
“The humanitarian and moral crisis at our southern border is exacerbated by policies like the interim final rule that will harm children and families. In a recent visit to the border, I interacted with individuals — many from Central America, but also those from Africa, South America and elsewhere — with very credible claims of persecution. They have already been forced to wait for months in Mexico to register their claim at the U.S. port of entry; now, they will be found ineligible. The U.S. has a moral obligation to respect our laws that offer protection to those with a credible claim of persecution.”
Jo Anne Lyon, Global Ambassador, The Wesleyan Church:
“Our asylum laws were designed by Congress to ensure that the U.S. offers refuge to individuals and families who have fled their countries because of a well-founded fear of persecution. It is a central part of our national identity that the United States of America offers safety and protection to those ‘yearning to breathe free,’ an aspiration rooted in the Christian belief that each human life is precious, made in God’s image and worth protecting. The new restrictions, denying individuals fleeing violence even the chance to make their legal case if they have traveled through Mexico, are a betrayal of these values and should be reversed.”
The Evangelical Immigration Table invites other evangelical Christians to add their names to the statement — which they can do here — and intends to deliver to elected officials a version of the letter updated with additions.