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WASHINGTON, D.C. | Church World Service | August 20, 2018

Today, 19 faith leaders from the state of Arizona joined a group of 120 faith-based organizations and 636 faith leaders from around the country to send a letter to Senator Jeff Flake and Congressman Andy Biggs, urging them and the administration to set the fiscal year 2019 refugee admissions goal to at least 75,000, and expressing deep concern about the record-low arrivals of refugees who have been resettled to the United States in fiscal year 2018. As members of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees, Senator Flake and Congressman Biggs play a critical role in the mandatory congressional consultation with the administration on setting next year’s refugee admissions goal.

“The deep concern about refugee resettlement speaks to the heart and soul of our humanity. The United Methodist Church joins with many faith traditions in guarding the sanctity of those who turn to us for safety from persecution and harm,” said Bishop Robert T. Hoshibata, Resident Bishop of the Desert Southwest Conference of the Phoenix Area United Methodist Church.

As reports surface of the administration’s plans to set the refugee admissions goal for next fiscal year at 25,000 or lower, members of the faith community decried the low level of arrivals, noting that it signifies an abdication of our nation’s leadership in humanitarian protection through resettlement.

“For decades, people of faith have welcomed refugees into our homes, houses of worship, and communities. Refugees are powerful ambassadors of our founding principles of equal opportunity, religious freedom, and liberty and justice for all.” wrote today’s signatories. “As we look ahead to the final quarter of this fiscal year, we urge the administration to meet its own goal of resettling 45,000 refugees this year, and to commit to resettling at least 75,000 refugees in Fiscal Year 2019. Our collective scriptural mandate and our nation’s history and capabilities as a world leader demand no less.”

The letter highlights that faith communities around the nation, including in Arizona, stand ready and eager to welcome 75,000 refugees amidst a global displacement crisis of more than 25 million refugees worldwide, leaving many vulnerable families in need of safety. The U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP), which was built as a private-public partnership between faith communities and the U.S. government, has been afforded broad bipartisan support since its inception in 1980. The USRAP has successfully provided more than three million refugees tools for integration and self-sufficiency to start over in safety and our communities have in turn benefited from these individuals. As a pillar of U.S. foreign policy, our nation’s resettlement program represents a standard of excellence that other countries look to as a touchstone for their own policies.

“We pray that in your process of discernment, compassion for the plight of refugees will touch your hearts. We urge you to be bold in choosing moral, just policies that provide refuge for vulnerable individuals seeking protection,” the faith leaders added.

Since 1946, Church World Service has supported refugees, immigrants and other displaced individuals, in addition to providing sustainable relief and development solutions to communities that wrestle with hunger and poverty. Learn more about our work and join our global homebase for refugee solidarity at GreaterAs1.org.

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Contact: Mary Elizabeth Margolis – Church World Service | | 212.870.2188

Editor’s Note: On August 19 people around the country began a week or 30 days of prayer for refugees. Click here to find resources for #Pray4RefugeesFind additional immigration response news and resources at www.dscumc.org/immigration-response.

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