Iowa Evangelicals Urge Congress to Grant Permanent Legal Status to Afghans

 In Press Releases

Des Moines — Today, the Evangelical Immigration Table (EIT) sent a letter signed by 40 evangelical pastors, leaders and church members urging Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst and the state’s U.S. representatives to provide permanent legal status to Afghans already resettled across the U.S. 

Since August, more than 70,000 Afghans who were evacuated out of Kabul have been granted humanitarian parole into the United States. Most of them have now been resettled across local communities, many with the direct support of churches and other community organizations, including approximately 1,000 resettled to Iowa. However, these Afghans do not have a clear process to pursue permanent legal status. 

Local evangelical leaders urge Congress to pass legislation that would allow these Afghan parolees “a direct process by which they can apply for permanent legal status,” per the letter. 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, which was affirmed by approximately 900 signatories from across the country, 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 several signatories of the letter to Iowa’s congressional delegation:

Laura Fontaine, Director, World Relief Quad Cities, serving Davenport and Bettendorf, said:

“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.”

Jeremiah X. Gómez, Network Pastor, Heritage Church, Bettendorf, said:

“Reminding our leaders of the dignity of every person and challenging those leaders to act with this dignity in mind is part of our calling. Bridging gaps in dignity, security, and flourishing for all people is one of the most Christlike actions we can take; for our immigrant and refugee neighbors the need to bridge these gaps is especially urgent. Calling upon our political leaders to use their God-given authority for the sake of those living on the margins is one way to ‘speak up…and ensure justice’ (Proverbs 31:8).”

Elizabeth Brown Hardeman, Pastor, American Reformed Church, Orange City, said:

“This legislation has the possibility to provide safety and stability for people, especially women and girls, who have experienced indescribable trauma. Without a pathway to permanent status, we allow vulnerable people to live in the constant state of uncertainty around their future, unable to fully invest in our communities. Beyond this practical reality, as a Christian, I ask myself, “What does justice, kindness, and mercy look like for refugees in need of a place to call ‘home’ and a people to call ‘neighbor’?” I think this legislation might provide, at least in part, an answer to that question.”

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