SWAIF takes to the national level on behalf of Central American refugees
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SWAIF petitions President Obama

and members of Congress for realistic solutions.

The Southwest IAF Network of organizations has been networking with a group of leaders, lawyers and organizers who are responding to the Central American immigrant women and children crises in a variety of ways from providing shelter, food, legal advice and a simple welcome.  The group has also come up with a letter to President Obama (below).  Over 30 local pastors and clergy have signed onto the letter so far. Arizona clergy who would like to sign on can email pcicsoaz@gmail.com as soon as possible.  The letter will go out Friday morning. As an individual, you can sign on via this LINK.

Dear President Obama and Members of Congress,

We are distressed by the cries of the young mothers, children and adolescents now detained under terrible conditions at our southern borders.  Moreover, we suffer with them.  We remember that in many ways, our own government policies have contributed to the untenable conditions now driving the refugees to our gates. They are refugees fleeing the drug and gang wars in homelands that currently boast the highest murder rates in the world.

Our current treatment of these children violates our integrity as a nation and as people of faith: “… show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” (Zechariah 7:9-10.)

Instead, we strongly urge the following three measures:
  1. Temporary Protected Status, or “TPS” should be granted to persons from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico. This will give them a year and a half of legal status. After that, the dangers in their countries can be reconsidered annually. Once deemed safe, the refugees return to their homes. Meanwhile, the current burden on our courts and Border Patrol facilities is greatly alleviated, and the refugees can work and properly care for themselves.
  2. Anyone under the age of eighteen who has survived the perilous trip north must have an attorney, and must never be subjected to expedited processing. These children know they can be killed for speaking out against the gangs, and they have no familiarity with our legal system. To permit the expedited deportation of unrepresented children is unconscionable.
  3. Religious, human rights and civic groups must be allowed access to the U.S. Border Patrol detention facilities and to the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement shelters for unaccompanied minors.  Community leaders can and should provide humanitarian support to the overwhelmed detention centers and shelters.
We take seriously our government’s concerns for national security and the orderly control of immigration affairs.  However, the solution does not lie in punishing the children.  It is inexcusable to send back children to dangerous homelands from which they bravely escaped.

We must welcome our brothers and sisters.
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