January 27, 2016
A Call to Welcome Immigrants and Refugees
The Immigration Alliance is a national, collaborative effort that equips churches across the country to provide critical immigration legal services to under-resourced immigrants. We do this through cultivating relationships among immigrants and churches in order that the Church might become an epicenter of multi-national welcome and community. Currently 17 church-based organizations, 30,000 churches and 33 sites strong.(www.TheImmigrationAlliance.org) Part and parcel to the Mission and Vision of The Immigration Alliance, is ‘Welcoming the Stranger among us’ with Christian Love and Charity.
We deeply mourn with those in who are reeling from violent attacks in recent weeks, and are pained to live in such a broken world. A natural response to such violence and brokenness is fear. Matthew 6 calls us to not live out of fear, but rather to “seek first the kingdom of God.” It is in times of crisis that our calling to kingdom compassion is most tested, and we are most tempted to close our arms to the stranger, but it is in these times that it is most needed.
The Immigration Alliance firmly accepts and reaffirms these 5 biblical truths:
1) Our God reigns sovereign over all things;
2) God oversees the movement of all people;
3) God generally establishes governments for the protection of all people;
4) God specifically commands his church to provide for all people;
5) Our God steers shelters, services and showers immigrants and refugees with his Grace and Truth.
The overwhelming majority of immigrants and refugees arriving in the US come because they have been confirmed to be fleeing from violence and persecution. They arrive in the US after completing a vetting process that takes 18-24 months, including interviews and background checks conducted by the FBI, Homeland Security, and other counter-terrorism organizations.
Many of our governors, whose job it is to provide safety to the citizens of their states, do not have complete confidence in the federal government’s vetting process, nor is it clear who would provide funding for the increased burden that is likely to be placed upon those state’s social services. We urge the federal government to work transparently with our state officials so that they can confidently work together for the good of our local communities. Welcoming Christian and Muslim Syrian immigrants and refugees is one of the most powerful weapons we have against extremism. It is a way of saying that we will not give way to fear or to stereotyping whole people groups based on the actions of some.
We urge our leaders to follow through on our commitment to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees and even urge that resources be allocated so that this number can be responsibly increased in the future. Most importantly, we urge each of our churches to reach out to those immigrants and refugees who have been resettled in our local communities. Let us continue to remember our Gospel mandate to “welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you.” (Romans 15:7).
L Gus Haddad
Dr. Alejandro Mandes