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October 17, 2017

REPORT: The Ongoing Challenge of Hospitality To Refugees and Immigrants

In a context of consistent elimination of protections for refugees and immigrants, RIM’S work in recent months has focused around these key efforts:

1) ENDEAVOR TO SAVE DACA, AND NOW TO PASS A CLEAN DREAM ACT:

SIGN UP to participate with Disciples and other interfaith partners in "DREAM Sabbath" activities during any day in October & November, and lift up the contributions, stories, and challenges being faced by immigrants NOW!! Find and share our DREAM Sabbath toolkit resources HERE: PDF and Word

Please share the materials widely, and please put your "DREAM Sabbath" support events on this map!

For more resources, please visit http://www.interfaithimmigration.org/dream.

Also, especially prepare to participate in district and in D.C. during the October 29th-November 4th“PRAYING WITH DREAMERS” week. Stay tuned for LOTS of resources to share with your community, and actions to raise your community’s voice of faith to protect Dreamers! Note: Terri Hord Owens will be in D.C. to participate in a Press Conference, Advocacy Events, and other actions on November 1st.

2) KEEP THE DOOR OPEN TO REFUGEES, AND HALT THE DISMANTLING OF THE U.S. REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT PROGRAM

As the Presidential Determination of refugee resettlement numbers for FY2018 must be named by the end of September each year, our Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries engaged in advocacy throughout the summer to urge a goal for the President and Congress to OPEN THE DOOR OF WELCOME to at least 75,000 refugees in the coming year!

Before the President’s final announcement, our Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries office was grateful to join outside the U.S. Capitol with other faith partners in a Press Conference responding to reports of Trump’s desire to set the refugee admissions goal for next fiscal year at a mere 45,000 -the lowest goal in U.S. history. The average admissions goal from when The Refugee Act of 1980 passed until today has been 95,000, with an average of 80,000 refugees resettled each year. Recognizing that we face the worst displacement crisis in recorded history with more than 65 million people who have been forced from their homes and more than 22 million refugees worldwide, we will continue to raise the need for the U.S. to resettle far higher numbers of refugees.

Our ministry likewise continues to help connect congregations around the U.S. to partner in relationship and support with refugees in their local areas, through Church World Service or other local resettlement agencies.

3) PROTECT FAMILIES OF TPS (TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS) HOLDERS; WHO ARE HAITIANS, CENTRAL AMERICANS, AND OTHER POPULATIONS:

Established by Congress through the Immigration Act of 1990, upon occasion since 1991 the U.S. has granted “Temporary Protected Status” to selected individuals from a total of 13 populations due to unsafe conditions for return to their homeland. Ten populations, and a total of 330,000 individuals, currently receive TPS.

Since 2002, the authority to grant and extend TPS designations has been given to the Department of Homeland Security. TPS has been offered in situations where a country or part thereof, where at least one of these three circumstances exists:
· There is “ongoing armed conflict” that creates unsafe conditions for returning nationals;
· There has been an earthquake, flood, drought epidemic, or other environmental disaster that makes the state temporarily unable to accept the return of its nationals, and the state has requested TPS designation; or
· “Extraordinary and temporary” conditions in a state prevent its nationals from returning safely

Under the current administration, Haitian TPS was announced during the summer that it will likely end in January, 2018. Before and since, and in strong partnership with our Haitian Disciples pastors, RIM has consistently advocated to help raise the voices of our Haitian leaders. Likewise, as the predominant number of current TPS recipients in the U.S. are from Central America, RIM has also engaged in multiple efforts to encourage the renewal of TPS for Salvadoran, Honduran, and Nicaraguan individuals—many of whom are also among our Disciples congregations.

TPS holders contribute billions of dollars to our economy, and many have ivied here 15-20 years in our communities. They are our neighbors, and we seek to protect the unity of their families.

Here are some ways to take action:
1. Download & share the Interfaith Toolkit to Defend TPS! We invite communities across the nation to host a faith vigil, educate your faith community about TPS, amplify voices of TPS holders in the media, and meet and call your national, state, and local elected officials.
2. Call Your Members of Congress: Tell Them to Support TPS Holders, Save TPS, and Stand With Our Immigrant Neighbors!
3. Learn: Read the September 2017 interfaith letter urging the administration to extend TPS for all TPS designations and protect all TPS populations in the U.S.

4) PUSH BACK AGAINST EVER INCREASING ENFORCEMENT THAT THREATENS TO SEPARATE FAMILIES

In ongoing in-district and Hill-focused legislative visits, call in days, vigils, story sharing, and other strategies, Refugee & Immigration Ministries continues to seek to protect and encourage families who pose no danger to society but are under increasing threat of detention and/or deportation.

The President has requested $7.5 billion dollars for FY 2017 and 2018 over and above last year’s funding for additional immigration enforcement. If approved, these proposals would greatly diminish funding for education, housing, school lunch programs, and poverty-oriented assistance. Instead, immigration enforcement would be expand, providing thousands more border enforcement personnel and adding funds for a wall and intense additional security to border communities, and increasing the “detention bed” quotas by thousands.

For further assistance in planning your response actions and considering how you can support refugees and immigrants, please contact: Rev. Sharon Stanley-Rea, Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries (RIM) Director, sstanley@dhm.disciples.org or 202-957-7826. RIM is a ministry of Disciples Home Missions in partnership with the Christian Church Capital Area and the Disciples Center for Public Witness.

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