UCC leaders urge U.S. to build on executive order, pass Refugee Protection Act
United Church of Christ leaders are calling on the Biden administration to keep building on its early actions to restore the welcome of refugees and asylum seekers to the United States.
And they are urging the church’s members and congregations themselves to welcome refugees – and to call on Congress to pass a Refugee Protection Act.
The calls came in a Feb. 9 statement from two executives of Wider Church Ministries, which guides the UCC’s work with refugees and asylum seekers: the Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson, associate general minister, and the Rev. Joshua Baird, leader of WCM’s Global H.O.P.E team.
Thompson and Baird applauded Biden for his Feb. 4 executive order, aimed at rebuilding the U.S. refugee resettlement program after rollbacks under the Trump administration. They called the order “the first step on the way to a humanitarian and just approach to refugee resettlement” and “a start toward reclaiming U.S. values of providing care and welcome to our most vulnerable neighbors.”
They said the Refugee Protection Act – previously introduced in the Senate and the House – should be updated to “to strengthen the refugee admissions and asylum-seeking process and establish a minimum goal for new admissions each year.”
The full statement follows:
A good initial step to restore and strengthen U.S. refugee resettlement programs — and the need to build on it
As leaders in the United Church of Christ’s work with refugees and asylum seekers, we commend the Biden-Harris administration’s recent order to restore and strengthen refugee resettlement in the United States. We now urge the administration and Congress to build on that first step and work together to update and pass a Refugee Protection Act, such as the one introduced previously as Senate Bill 2936 and House Resolution 5210.
We join with the entire refugee community in welcoming and celebrating President Biden’s “Executive Order on Rebuilding and Enhancing Programs to Resettle Refugees and Planning for the Impact of Climate Change on Migration,” issued Feb. 4. This order is the first step on the way to a humanitarian and just approach to refugee resettlement. It is a start toward reclaiming U.S. values of providing care and welcome to our most vulnerable neighbors. The past administration rolled back policies on refugee resettlement, causing the United States to step away from its historic commitments to providing safe homes for the millions who are displaced globally.
The president’s recent executive order lays the groundwork to support refugee agencies in rebuilding and strengthening the infrastructure to welcome and resettle a higher number of refugees in the coming years. Returning refugee resettlement numbers to historic norms will take the support of many partners working together.
The United Church of Christ is eager to be one of those partners. Our church has a long record of support for refugees and asylum seekers. Last fall, we reaffirmed that historic commitment with a campaign in line with our church’s vision of “a just world for all.” We called for increased awareness, compassion and action on behalf of the more than 79 million people worldwide who are displaced from their home due to war, disaster and persecution.
Today we call on members and local churches of the United Church of Christ to continue and expand their work in welcoming and assisting newly arrived refugees. We also urge them to call on their congressional representatives to support the Refugee Protection Act. Updating that proposed legislation to strengthen the refugee admissions and asylum-seeking process and establish a minimum goal for new admissions each year would make clear the U.S. commitment to its humanitarian principles.
The Rev. Dr. Karen Georgia Thompson Associate General Minister, Wider Church Ministries and Operations United Church of Christ The Rev. Joshua Baird Team Leader, Global H.O.P.E. United Church of Christ
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