A Joint Statement from U.S. Religious Leaders and Communities Regarding U.S. Immigration and Refugee Policies and Practices

New York, NY
October 19, 2020

We – people of faith and religious and spiritual leaders from diverse traditions throughout the United States – are urgently joining to express our shared concerns regarding current U.S. immigration policies and practices.

We are from religious traditions small and large, young and old. We are Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Indigenous, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Unitarian Universalist, Zoroastrian, and many others. We herald from great faith “families” of the world – Abrahamic, Eastern, Native and Earth‐Based, and Asian.

We uplift our moral voices and make plain the imperatives of our respective traditions that call us to act together. We are called to love our neighbors, protect the vulnerable, and care for the sojourner. We are compelled by faith to advocate for refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants.

We join together to express our profound dismay and concern over the actions of the current administration. There is an intentional ongoing dismantling of traditional US commitments towards refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants. This includes an abandonment of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, and failure by the administration to consult with Congress, as required by U.S. law, regarding the 2021 refugee admissions goal, known as the “Presidential Determination” (PD). The PD for 2021 was proposed at an all‐time historic low of 15,000.

The global need to aid and resettle displaced persons is at its highest point and yet our country’s administration has dropped our commitment to the most vulnerable to the lowest level of response in history.

Our long‐held trust and working relationship with the U.S. government to provide hospitality and refuge to the stranger has been allowed to lay fallow. The diminution of the refugee program leaves out hundreds of thousands of vulnerable individuals around the world who deserve America’s protection.

We pledge the renewed support of our communities and offices to address this crisis and affirm our sense of urgency and priority in addressing these issues.

The United States was effectively founded as a place of refuge for those escaping persecution, including religious persecution. It rose as a nation to become a world beacon in protecting religious minorities and religious freedom. Concern and hospitality for the stranger are at the theological core of each of our respective traditions.

We have a moral responsibility to love our neighbor, protect the vulnerable, and care for the sojourner, both as people of faith and as Americans. We pledge to advocate for refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants. We do this by championing causes which uphold the dignity and sacred worth of every person and protect families and human security.

We cannot afford to be misled by fear or distracted by scapegoating. We will not accept short‐sighted solutions. We pledge a priority to this work, to remain vigilant, and to uphold a series of commitments, re‐engaging our faith communities in advocacy for vulnerable displaced persons.

Call to Action

We pledge to work together with urgency and priority to:

1) Restore our country’s historic commitment and leadership in aiding refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants to meet the pressing needs of these individuals for a safe and viable community to live and thrive.

2) Champion the humane and fair treatment of unauthorized immigrants including providing a
pathway to citizenship and permanent protections for participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders. Urge respect for and compliance with national and international asylum and protection laws.

3) Advocate for an end to funding of the border wall, deportations, and inhumane ICE enforcement operations and an increase in funding for the humane treatment of unauthorized immigrants.

4) Support the well‐being of families and the protection of the inherent dignity and value of human beings in all of our actions. Support the sanctuary movement.

5) Conduct frequent engagements with our elected officials and relevant government agencies to demand greater accountability.

6) Stand in firm and visible solidarity with persecuted minorities, especially our religious neighbors, doing so in our houses of faith and communities and at detention centers, courts, and the halls of power.

7) Challenge the fearmongering and scapegoating that is being fomented, redirecting ourselves and our neighbors to examine verifiable causes for our challenges and championing workable and humane solutions.

8) Call ourselves and our individual faith communities to engage in purposed and careful consideration of immigration issues through study and prayerful reflection with the aim of making ongoing commitments to social action.

9) Uplift the mandates of our respective faiths to address migration-related issues.

10) Work for comprehensive immigration reform to alleviate stresses on the system and advance security in effective and healthy ways.

For more information or to sign on to the statement and call, see https://rfpusa.org/immigration.