Texas Evangelicals Urge Congress to Grant Permanent Legal Status to Afghans
The Evangelical Immigration Table (EIT) recently sent a letter signed by more than 50 evangelical pastors, leaders and church members urging Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and the state’s U.S. representatives to provide permanent legal status to Afghans already resettled across the U.S.
Since August, more than 70,000 Afghans who were evacuated out of Kabul have been granted humanitarian parole into the United States. Most of them have now been resettled across local communities, many with the direct support of churches and other community organizations, including approximately 9,800 resettled to Texas. However, these Afghans do not have a clear process to pursue permanent legal status.
Local evangelical leaders urge Congress to pass legislation that would allow these Afghan parolees “a direct process by which they can apply for permanent legal status,” per the letter. One proposal, the Afghan Adjustment Act, would allow Afghan parolees to be processed similarly to those resettled through the traditional refugee resettlement program, applying for Lawful Permanent Resident status after one year.
The evangelical leaders’ letter, which was affirmed by approximately 900 signatories from across the country, also urges Congress to pass legislation to grant permanent legal status to other categories of immigrants who are currently in the United States only with temporary legal protections, including Dreamers who have benefited from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and long-term beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status.
The following are quotes from several signatories of the letter to Texas’ congressional delegation:
Chris Hall, Associate Missions Pastor, Houston Northwest Church, Houston, said:
“The world has found itself in unique times. One area that does not have to change is America’s readiness to open its doors to the hungry, hurting and poor. I urge everyone to consider how you can support our new neighbors, beginning with signing the Evangelical Immigration Table’s letter urging Congress to provide a path to permanent status for Afghan parolees.”
Kathryn Freeman, Texas Advocacy Mobilizer, World Relief, said:
“It has been an honor for World Relief to welcome so many Afghans to Texas, and local churches and volunteers have stepped up in remarkable ways to stand with these resilient families. Now we need our congressional leaders to do their part, ensuring that these Afghans have the security of knowing they belong permanently in the U.S., just as if they had been resettled through the traditional refugee resettlement process. And other immigrants in our state, such as Dreamers and long-term beneficiaries of ‘Temporary’ Protected Status, urgently need congressional action as well.”
Brian McFadden, Compassion Pastor, Rush Creek Church, Arlington, said:
“As citizens of the United States, we should be committed to help those whose lives are in jeopardy around the world. Our efforts should be to rescue, restore and help rebuild the lives in a country that was built on freedom. It is our responsibility as Americans to offer that same freedom to other humans who desire the same.”
Jesse Rincones, Executive Director, Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas, said:
“Thousands of Afghans risked their lives to serve our country. It would be a travesty to leave them in a perpetual state of insecurity with ‘temporary’ status. A path to permanent status is the just response to their sacrifice.”
Dr. Bob Roberts, Senior Global Pastor, Northwood Church, Keller, said:
“The botched evacuation of Afghans from Kabul will always be a stain on America — we must not make it worse by not doing the right thing now & failing to provide a pathway to citizenship.”
Mark Heavener, Director of Intercultural Ministries, Baptist General Convention of Texas, Dallas, said:
“I wake each morning with Psalm 107 driving me. God seeks across the earth looking for those who are under the hand of the repressor and opens their hands. He gathers them into his arms and takes them straight to a city where they can be settled and filled with what is good. Please may it be that your legacy is one for the work of God.”