Evangelicals Urge Congress to Grant Permanent Legal Status to Afghans
Washington, D.C. — About 900 evangelical pastors, leaders and church members have signed a letter urging members of Congress to provide permanent legal status to Afghans already resettled across the U.S.
The Evangelical Immigration Table (EIT) sent the letter this week. It echoes the sentiments of national evangelical leaders in a letter last September.
Since August, more than 70,000 Afghans who were evacuated out of Kabul have been granted humanitarian parole in the United States. Most of them have now been resettled across local communities, many with the direct support of churches and other community organizations.
Local evangelical leaders throughout the country urge Congress to pass legislation that would allow these Afghan parolees “a direct process by which they can apply for permanent legal status,” which they currently lack. One proposal, the Afghan Adjustment Act, would allow Afghan parolees to be processed similarly to those resettled through the traditional refugee resettlement program, applying for Lawful Permanent Resident status after one year.
The evangelical leaders’ letter also urges Congress to pass legislation to grant permanent legal status to other categories of immigrants who are currently in the United States only with temporary legal protections, including Dreamers who have benefited from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and long-term beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status.
The following are quotes from signatories of the letter, with additional quotes available via the links:
California – Alan Cross, Pastor, Petaluma Valley Baptist Church, Petaluma:
“I support the Afghan Adjustment Act because I believe that we have an obligation to welcome Afghan refugees in a way that they can have a sense of stability without worrying that they will be deported and have to leave yet again. As a Christian, I believe we are called to provide welcome for those who have had to flee terrible situations to protect their own lives and their families. Continuing to live in what amounts to a temporary situation isn’t good for Afghan refugees or the communities they are residing in.”
Illinois – Juliet Liu, Co-Pastor, Life on the Vine Church, Lake Zurich:
“My family was among the 125,000 people forced to leave their home Vietnam in 1975, their lives endangered because of their affiliation with the United States. While we are well-acquainted with the devastating trauma that happens when war robs you of a home, we also know what a difference it can make, for generations to come, when families are welcomed well and integrated long-term into this nation. As a second-generation Vietnamese American, as a faith leader, and as an American citizen, I am eager to pay forward the welcome my family was shown and support this legislation for Afghan refugees.”
Iowa – Laura Fontaine, Director, World Relief Quad Cities, serving Davenport and Bettendorf:
“It’s been our privilege at World Relief to welcome several Afghan families to the Quad Cities, and we’ve been amazed by the remarkable ways that our local churches and the broader community have stepped up to help. Now we need our congressional leaders to step up as well, ensuring that Afghans are able to apply for permanent legal status just like those resettled through the traditional refugee resettlement process.”
North Carolina – Graham Aitken, Co-Lead Pastor, The Heart, Boone:
“My faith compels me to lead with love and I believe that wise discernment need not give way to fear. At its best, this nation serves as a beacon of hope for those who have faced the unimaginable and yet found a way to endure. May we always be willing to come alongside them and welcome them home.”
Ohio – Tom Roepke, Lead Pastor at Linden Road Presbyterian Church, Ashland:
“As an American it only makes sense to support that those who have been paroled into the United States be afforded a process that gives a sure road to citizenship that is not simply a perpetual ‘temporary’ status. It needs to be clear and a direct path that will give closure and certainty of citizenship in our great land.”
Texas – Jesse Rincones, Executive Director, Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas:
“Thousands of Afghans risked their lives to serve our country. It would be a travesty to leave them in a perpetual state of insecurity with ‘temporary’ status. A path to permanent status is the just response to their sacrifice.”