(RNS) — A number of faith-based organizations and congregations are pleading with the Biden administration, in a letter sent Monday (Jan. 23) to President Joe Biden and other leaders, not to enact new immigration restrictions.The letter — signed by 165 faith-based local, national and international organizations and congregations — expresses “grave concern” with policies Biden announced earlier this month.
While those policies expand a program offering humanitarian parole to Venezuelans to include individuals from Nicaragua, Haiti and Cuba, they also include a proposal to bar people from seeking asylum if they enter the U.S. without inspection or do not seek protection in other countries along the way, the letter said.
The administration has said it plans to launch an app that individuals can use to schedule an appointment for inspection instead of coming directly to a U.S. port of entry in order to reduce wait times and crowds at the border.
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The letter urges the Biden administration not to move forward with what it calls an “asylum ban,” calling it “harmful, inhumane and deadly for the most vulnerable.”
“Across faith traditions and practices, the message is clear: We are called by our sacred texts and faith principles to approach one another with love—not fear,” the letter reads.
“Our diverse faith traditions compel us to love our neighbor, accompany the vulnerable, and welcome the sojourner—regardless of place of birth, religion, or ethnicity. Importantly, our faiths also urge us to boldly resist and dismantle systems of oppression.”
Parole is no substitute for access to asylum, according to the letter.
Signers include three of the six faith-based agencies that partner with the U.S. government to resettle refugees: Church World Service, HIAS (formerly the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.
Krish O’Mara Vignarajah. Photo courtesy of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
Several denominations also signed on to the letter, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church (USA) a …