North Carolina Evangelicals Urge Congress to Grant Permanent Legal Status to Afghans
Raleigh — Today, the Evangelical Immigration Table (EIT) sent a letter signed by more than 70 evangelical pastors, leaders and church members urging Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis 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 1,600 resettled to North Carolina. 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 North Carolina’s congressional delegation:
Graham Aitken, Co-Lead Pastor, The Heart, Boone, said:
“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.”
Adam Clark, Director, World Relief Durham, said:
“At World Relief Durham, we’ve been overwhelmed by the response from local churches and the broader community to welcoming the Afghans being resettled here in North Carolina. As churches and volunteers step up to ensure that these new neighbors are able to integrate into our community, the Congress must do its part, as well, ensuring that Afghans are able to apply for permanent legal status, while also extending that permanence to others stuck in perpetual ‘temporary’ status such as Dreamers whose ability to work and live lawfully in our community is once again in legal jeopardy.”
Ben Marsh, Pastor, First Alliance Church, Winston-Salem, said:
“It’s been a privilege for our church to partner with World Relief Triad to welcome Afghans who have had to flee their country and demonstrated remarkable resilience as they rebuild their lives in the United States. After all they have already gone through, the last thing they need is the stress of wondering if they will be allowed to stay permanently here in North Carolina. I’m praying our Senators and Representatives will work together to ensure that Afghans can apply for permanent legal status, just like those resettled through traditional refugee processes.”