In South Carolina, a Broad Coalition Stands Up for Refugees

Communications Associate

April 29, 2016

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A coalition that ranges from the Southern Baptist Convention to the American Civil Liberties Union spoke against an anti-refugee bill in South Carolina on Thursday.

Refugees, veterans, pastors, teachers and students were among the 22 people who testified against S997 before a state House subcommittee, many citing their Christian faith as the basis of their objection to the bill.

“The Bible commands us to minister to the sojourner, to the immigrant, to refugees, to care for the poor, and many who are working with refugees are doing that out of their religious devotion and out of worship for God,” said Alan Cross, Southeast Regional Coordinator for the Evangelical Immigration Table. “And to have a potential for being sued or being held civilly liable for the work that they do if a refugee does something that is beyond their control, it’s something that concerns hundreds of pastors throughout the state.”

The testimony of a 20-year-old college sophomore was among the most wrenching.

“When I tell my kids the story of this day, I will tell them that ultimately you are the ones who spoke into the course of history,” said Ashley Bultman, a sophomore at Anderson University. “You are the ones who either chose to shut the doors, or welcome in the broken.” [A transcript of Bultman’s full testimony is available.]

No one testified in favor of the bill at Thursday’s hearing. Separately, the subcommittee unanimously voted in favor of an amendment that would weaken the bill.

​“This broad coalition showed courage in standing up for our core values,” said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum. “It’s great to see that people from across the political spectrum in South Carolina are defending refugees and recognizing the terrible circumstances that force refugees to flee.

“America is better when we stand by our nation’s long-held values and welcome refugees as a hardworking community of grateful residents who enrich our communities and our country.”