WASHINGTON, D.C. — Just ahead of the president’s meeting with House Republicans on immigration, evangelical leaders and laypeople are urging Congress and the Trump administration to stop separating families at the border, sending a letter with 10,000 signatures to the president imploring his administration to end its zero-tolerance policy and meeting with 24 Republican congressional offices today.
And hours before President Trump meets with Republican lawmakers, a group of evangelical leaders, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and other advocates at a press conference today urged Congress to pass immigration solutions that welcome immigrants and provide a permanent solution for Dreamers.
Speakers also advocated for a compassionate, robust refugee resettlement program ahead of World Refugee Day tomorrow, which comes as the global refugee population reaches record levels.
The following are quotes from speakers at today’s press conference:
Kent Annan, Senior Fellow at the Humanitarian Disaster Institute, Wheaton College:
“As evangelical Christians, we’re committed to the Bible as our top authority, and the Scriptures speak clearly and repeatedly about God’s concern for vulnerable foreigners, including refugees. The U.S. refugee resettlement program has nearly ground to a halt, impacting refugees of all faith backgrounds. As Christians who believe that all people bear God’s image, as well as people committed to religious liberty for all, this is very troubling.”
Alan Cross, Southern Baptist minister and Southeast Regional Mobilizer for Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform:
“As a Christian and a pastor, I am deeply concerned about the administration’s decision to separate children from parents who are arriving at our southern border to seek refuge from violence and persecution in their homelands. Seeking asylum is legal under U.S. and international law, and we must remain a country that welcomes and provides refuge for children and families fleeing violence.”
Boyd Hannold, Lead Pastor at Princeton Alliance Church, New Jersey:
“Churches and faith communities have been a core part of welcoming and supporting the integration of refugees and other immigrants into local communities. Welcoming refugees will help bring back our morality in a world that’s questioning it.”
Claire McWilliams, Elder, Loop Church, Chicago:
“Refugees have welcomed me into their homes and shown me endless hospitality. God established the family as the fundamental building block of society, and government should not separate families except in the rarest of circumstances — certainly not as a deterrent to request asylum. It’s vital that our government respect our asylum laws and treat all people with dignity.”
Laurie Meberg, International Community Developer with World Witness:
“Parental separation is not a deterrent to families fleeing violence and persecution from coming to the United States and attempting to claim asylum. We need to make sure that families fleeing violence can stay together.”
Jose Ocampo, evangelical Christian and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient:
“I grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina, I love the Carolina Panthers, I drink sweet tea, and I’m active in my church family. This is my home in every way but paperwork. I call on President Trump to end family separation and on Congress to pass immigration legislation that welcomes and protects all families, including mine.”
Esmeralda Tovar-Contreras, DACA recipient, nursing student and military spouse:
“I have been pledging allegiance to the U.S. as long as I can remember. I call on Congress to pass immigration legislation to keep families like mine together.”
Ali Noorani, Executive Director, National Immigration Forum:
“Immigrants and refugees are integral to America’s economic vitality and entrepreneurial spirit, and vital to local congregations and communities across our country. Policies that provide refuge to those fleeing persecution and keep families together don’t just make economic sense, they’re critical to our national identity. I urge President Trump and Congress to keep in mind that we can be a nation of laws and also a nation of grace.”