Office of Peacebuilding and Policy among more than 150 faith-based groups signing letter to Congress on immigration

The Church of the Brethren’s Office of Peacebuilding and Policy was one of more than 150 faith-based organizations and groups that signed a significant letter to Congress on the issue of immigration. More than 660 individual faith leaders also signed the letter, which was facilitated by the Interfaith Immigration Coalition.

The letter was written to “reject those harmful proposals to our immigration systems in the supplemental bill” and was “one of the largest letters in recent asylum advocacy,” reported staff of the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy.

The full text of the letter:

Dear Members of Congress,

We, the 662 undersigned faith leaders and 155 faith-based organizations and congregations, write to express our profound concern and opposition to measures proposed in the “Emergency National Security Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2024” that will further restrict access to asylum, arbitrarily close the border, and turn away families and individuals seeking safety and refuge in the United States. The bill includes permanent, harmful changes to our humanitarian protection system that far outweigh its provisions designed to support those seeking safety or effectively manage the border. It is imperative that we uphold our moral duty to welcome the stranger, extend compassion to those in need, and treat individuals with dignity and respect.

While we recognize the need to improve the humanitarian protection system, we firmly reject the proposed measures. This legislation would exacerbate the humanitarian and operational challenges at the border, place obstacles that severely restrict the right to seek protection, undermine the right to due process in immigration proceedings, and expand immigrant detention, deportations and the militarization of the border to unprecedented levels.

Passing this legislation risks separating families, returning asylum seekers to the very harm they fled in violation of non-refoulement, and increasing the chances that migrants, including women and children, are subject to exploitation, severe violence, and even death in countries of transit and return. Asylum seekers already navigate complex procedures and articulate fear claims after traumatic experiences, with little to no legal assistance. Making this process harder will result in the deportation of many with legitimate asylum claims.

We recognize that this legislation contains language on family immigration, permanent protections for Afghans, unaccompanied children, and Ukrainians fleeing war. However, exchanging protections for some immigrant populations at the expense of others would ultimately harm the very people this legislation purports to protect.

Coming from diverse faith communities, we believe it is our collective responsibility to work together for policies that uphold the rights and dignity of all people, regardless of their race, religion, or place of birth. This legislation goes against some of our most fundamental faith teachings and values, which at their core affirm the humanity and dignity of all those seeking refuge in the U.S. The legislation also does not meaningfully address the underlying root causes that drive displacement and force people from their homes.

The United States should, as a matter of shared interest, promote a fair and compassionate vision for migration management with its global partners. Action taken on migration should include responsibility and accountability for harmful U.S. foreign and economic policies that have contributed to the spiraling violence and poverty from which people are fleeing for their lives.

Nationally, we must focus on efforts that advance just and humane solutions, like those offered by our faith communities, that reflect our nation’s values and commitments. We are united in our resolve to uphold our shared faith principles of compassion, justice, and hospitality toward those in need.

We call on you to employ moral and principled judgment by supporting policies that respect the humanity and dignity of every individual who seeks refuge and better opportunities in our country.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. We are ready to work with you in pursuit of a more humane and compassionate immigration system that reflects the best of who we are as a nation.


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