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By: Robert Scott
For several months, the daily television news shows have highlighted the plight of refugees and asylum seekers who have emigrated from Central America and ended up just on the Mexican side of our southern border. Indeed, their presence and the lack of funding for a border wall – or for expanding the existing wall — were the reasons why President Trump caused the recent federal government shutdown, and why he may cause another one later this week. Or he may decide that this crisis is a National Emergency and assert that Emergency as a reason to divert funding from Congressionally approved projects to the wall project.
There is another way to address the presence of refugees at our borders. Many churches have provided model letters for their parishioners to write to Congress, asking them for action. Here is an extract of the one from Episcopal Migration Ministries.
“The Episcopal Church has partnered with the U.S. government to resettle refugees for nearly two decades. Refugee resettlement offers protection to those who have been persecuted and are not able to find safety otherwise, and the asylum process means we uphold our legal and moral commitments to those seeking protection. The U.S. is currently on track to resettle far fewer refugees than the Presidential determination of 30,000 refugees, the lowest in our nation’s history. Further, the Administration has implemented policies that have devastating impacts on asylum seekers – from separating families to turning back those exercising a legal right to seek protection at our border.
“Our state should act to welcome refugees and asylum seekers, because they bring economic benefits and cultural diversity, and they become our friends. Studies show that refugees contribute to our country through paying taxes, opening businesses, becoming civic leaders, and more. We also know that welcoming vulnerable persons is simply the right thing to do. I urge you to do all that you can to ensure the U.S. maintains its tradition as a global leader in resettlement and humanitarian protection. Please urge the Administration to welcome at least 75,000 refugees in fiscal year 2019.”
There are several secular as well as religious organizations like Episcopal Migration Ministries, and they all agree with the Trump Administration on at least one point: there is, indeed, a crisis at the Mexican border. But to the members of those organizations as well as to most of the nation, it is not a security crisis nor even a humanitarian crisis. It is a moral crisis. Our nation’s moral compass has swung away from its former position of world leadership. But it is not too late, and we can fix that. We can work with refugee aid organizations to help those refugees and, in the process, we will help our nation to right that compass and to get back on course. If we follow the leadership of moral people whether Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, or Secular Humanists, this will be a moral crisis that we can, and we must, overcome.