LOUISVILLE (PNS) – Joining more than 100 faith-based communities and other national, state and local organizations, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) signed a letter urging President Obama to demonstrate global leadership by making bold new commitments to refugee protection, assistance and solutions. Part of the requested commitments includes providing solutions – including resettlement and alternative pathways to admittance into the U.S. – for 200,000 refugees in 2017. The letter was sent to the President on August 29 in advance of the Leaders Summit on Refugees, to be held September 20 in New York City.
The letter states that 65 million men, women and children have lost their homes as a result of the worldwide refugee crisis, with nearly 21 million being forced to flee their home country. Most of those 21 million are struggling to survive in neighboring countries, placing undue political, economic and security challenges for the host countries. The signees ask for a commitment from the U.S. not only to admit more refugees, but to fund the resettlement costs accordingly so that refugees are ensured access to the service and support they need to integrate quickly and successfully into American communities.
“As the refugee crisis continues with the highest number of refugees since WWII, the world must respond with additional resources. The leadership of the United States is essential,” said Catherine Gordon, Representative for International Issues with the church’s Office of Public Witness. “The 2016 General Assembly called on Presbyterians to heed the biblical directive to provide for the stranger and the sojourner in our midst. This letter is one initial step but much more needs to be done in both education and advocacy – on the local, state and national levels.”
The letter also encourages American leadership and foreign policy responses to the refugee crisis in Central America, asking the administration to amend existing policies that have the effect of detaining and deporting Central Americans seeking protection in the U.S. It urges President Obama to use his legal authority to protect people who cannot return to their country due to widespread violence, and designates those from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala for Temporary Protected Status.
In addition to the PC(USA) other national organizations signing the letter include the AFL-CIO, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, MoveOn.org, the National Council of Churches and the United Church of Christ. There are approximately 60 state and local organizations and faith communities who also joined in signing.
The Leaders Summit on Refugees will be held in conjunction with the UN General Assembly meeting September 19, which focuses on movements of refugees and migrants. The summit’s stated goal is to galvanize significant new global commitments in order to increase funding to humanitarian appeals and international organizations, admit more refugees through resettlement or other legal pathways, and increase refugees’ self-reliance and inclusion through opportunities for education and legal work.
Click here to read the letter in its entirety.
by Scott O’Neill, Presbyterian News Service