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Advocating #refugeeswelcome

Issues surrounding refugee resettlement is changing daily in the United States. One of Highland’s most significant missions for the last 25+ years has been supporting and participating in the resettlement of refugees through Co-Sponsorship with Kentucky Refugee Ministries. Here are some ways you can add your voice to those who support refugee resettlement and some resources to learn more about refugees.

 

Advocating Refugees Welcome

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learn about Refugees & Resettlement

 

A Call to Welcome Syrian Refugees

This position Statement was developed by Louisville Metro community faith leaders. Today at 11:00am, Pastor Cynthia Campbell and Associate Pastor Matt Nickel joined other religious leaders for a press conference to give witness to a shared commitment to welcome Syrian refugees outside the Pleune-Mobley Center. You can read the WAVE3 News story from this afternoon’s press conference here.

 

LOUISVILLE (Dec. 4, 2015) Faith leaders from across the Metro Louisville Community, whose religious traditions contain explicit teachings about welcoming the stranger, and who collectively have decades of positive experience with the refugee community, express our solidarity and pledge our support for those fleeing war and brutality—particularly, those escaping conflict in Syria. We unite around the moral imperative to welcome refugees. Despite the understandable grief and anxiety in the aftermath of recent domestic acts of terror, we are called to live with courage, not fear.

 

Therefore, we will continue to raise awareness of the plight of Syrian refugees. They are not potential threats to be feared, but sisters and brothers deserving of our compassion and protection.

 

We will also mobilize our various faith communities to work together to provide the financial and material support necessary to the local agencies whose priority of care extends to the refugee community.

 

We urge our neighbors and fellow citizens to join us in acting with compassion and hospitality to refugees, and urge our civic leaders to support such acts of compassion and hospitality.

 

As representatives of various religious communities much of what binds us together is our shared commitment to advocating for the most vulnerable. This shared commitment expresses the most profound aspects of our faith traditions, as well as our shared conviction that faith itself can bind us together in our common humanity, motivating us to pursue justice and peace for all God’s children.
See more at: http://kyrm.org/press-conference-by-louisville-faith-leaders/#sthash.3MAt2EUa.dpuf

Refugee Action Alert

Highland Presbyterian Church has a long history of working with refugee resettlement in Louisville through Kentucky Refugee Ministries. Over the years, by showing compassion and hospitality to refugees, we have know the gifts they bring to our community, including a Syrian family this fall. Catholic Charities and Kentucky Refugee Ministries have communicated how you can reach out to our Senators in an act of faithful witness to express that refugees, including Syrians, are welcome.

Deuteronomy 10:17-19: For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, 18 who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. 19 You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

 

Refugee Action Alert

H.R. 4038 – American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act of 2015, or the American SAFE Act of 2015, passed the House of Representatives on 11/19/2015 and was referred to the Senate. Click here to read the bill.

 

Action is needed. Here is how to call and write your senators to let them know that you support refugees and that you oppose this bill. It would make it nearly impossible for refugees from Iraq or Syria to be resettled in the U.S. and will cause unnecessary bureaucratic delays, without increasing security. There is already a robust screening process in place for those resettled through the U.S. refugee program. The refugee resettlement program is in place to assist those fleeing from persecution and violence to start a new life. We should not turn our back on those most in need.

 

Example script: “I’m a constituent from [City] and I support refugees. I am opposed to any proposal that would stop or halt the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees, such as the American SAFE Act of 2015. I urge the Senator to represent me and other constituents who seek to welcome refugees.”

 

Additional Talking Points

  • There are 4 million Syrians displaced throughout the region, more than 50% of their entire population, making them the world’s largest refugee population under the United Nations mandate.
  • Only 2,034 Syrian refugees have been admitted to the U.S. since FY2011 due to the intensive security screening.
  • This is not an either/or situation: The United States can continue to welcome refugees while continuing to ensure our own security. We must do both.
  • Refugees are the most scrutinized and screened individuals to enter the United States.
    The multi-layered series of security checks include biometrics, medical screenings, interagency intelligence sharing, and in-person interviews with Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials.
  • As a leader of democracy in the world, we have a humanitarian duty to provide those escaping persecution the opportunity to seek protection and safe haven.
  • For more details regarding the refugee screening process, click here.

Kentucky Senator Contact Information

Senator Mitch McConnell

202-224-2541

Twitter: @mcconnellpress

 

Senator Rand Paul

202-224-4343 

Twitter: @senrandpaul

Minute for Mission

Cynthia M. Campbell delivered this Minute for Mission in worship on Sunday, November 22, 2015 about Kentucky Refugee Ministries and Refugee Resettlement.

 

Twenty-five years ago, Donna Craig, a member of this congregation, began a mission project to resettle refugees fleeing violence in Central America. Today, Kentucky Refugee Ministries is an independent, non-profit agency that operates out of our Pleune-Mobley Building. It settles over 1,000 refugees each year. On any given day, approximately 100 people come to KRM to learn English, to begin the process of finding employment, to sign up for medical insurance, to get help registering their children in school, to start the process of becoming citizens of the United States.

 

In the midst of a great deal of fear and confusion about refugees, especially refugees from Syria, I want to remind us of what these new neighbors of ours have been through. The process of coming to the United States is already incredibly rigorous. After fleeing their country, refugees register with the United Nations Refugee Agency which makes the determination of whether they merit refugee status. While they are living in camps outside their home country, biometric data is collected on each person by the UN agency. If refugee status is granted and if they seek resettlement in the U.S., refugees begin a rigorous screening process by various U.S. government agencies including the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department. Fingerprints and personal histories are thoroughly checked against watch-lists and databases in various intelligence agencies. The average processing time is 18-24 months. It is the most rigorous screening for any persons entering the U.S.

 

Most of the refugees resettled by agencies such as KRM are families – parents with the children. They are fleeing villages and cities that have been overrun by violence. They have left everything behind. They want what we all want: peace, the opportunity to send their children to school in safety; the ability to practice their faith without fear. John Koehlinger, Executive Director of KRM, writes: “How we treat refugees reflects our commitment to the values that define us as Americans…. Refugees have defied all odds to leave behind discrimination, threats and violence. Bringing your family here to build a better, safe life, is a quintessentially America thing to do.”

 

Yesterday, the Presbytery of Mid-Kentucky passed a resolution saying that we “affirm our commitment as followers of Jesus Christ to share the love of strangers and care for the vulnerable. We call upon our neighbors in Kentucky and our fellow citizens in the United States to join us in seeking to protect and provide hospitality to Syrian refugees. We call upon our state and national leaders to remember our nation’s commitment to inclusion and welcome, and to choose justice over fear in responding to those affected by the Syrian War.”

 

I am proud to be a member of the board of KRM, but in comparison to many of you, I am a newcomer to this ministry. I hope and pray that we will all now be part of a ministry to truth-telling to our fellow citizens as we continue to extend hospitality to families who have left everything behind in search of opportunity and peace.

 

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