Act Now in Support of Refugees

February 28, 2013

If you are reading this newsletter, it can only mean that somewhere along the line you have either witnessed or played some critical part in the life-saving work of Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM).

From around the Church, I have heard time and again from folks like you, individuals and parishes who have shared their stories of refugee co-sponsorship and how the transformative experience of welcoming the stranger resulted in lifelong friendships.

Perhaps your parish sponsored the resettlement of a Vietnamese refugee family in the early ‘80’s, or a Bosnian family in the ‘90's. Maybe you accompanied a Sudanese "lost boy" during his first few months in America, helping him regain his sense of family. Or, more recently, you extended a hand in hospitality to a newly-arrived Iraqi family who worked with the U.S. military, and faced threats or reprisals because of it.

This ministry of presence, so essential to the integration of newcomers, has always gone hand-in-hand with the vital federal funding of local community programs that support and promote self-sufficiency, encourage entrepreneurship, ease the suffering of victims of trauma and torture, and so much more.

And right now, refugees need your voice and action more than ever. The vital programs that support refugees in the U.S. are in grave danger of cuts and possibly elimination.

As you’ll read in this newsletter, the Federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) – the government agency responsible for funding and managing the numerous and essential programs for refugees, asylees, and many other vulnerable migrants – is facing a significant financial shortfall that will leave it tens of millions of dollars short of its budget this year.

We at EMM are actively involved in this conversation, but refugees need you to speak up now and advocate for the services that support them in becoming new Americans.

Over the course of many decades, The Episcopal Church, through Episcopal Migration Ministries, has continually demonstrated its concern and loving support for the vulnerable and uprooted in our midst, most recently through General Convention Resolution 2012-B028, passed last summer in Indianapolis, calling for needed reforms to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.

Below you'll find instructions from the Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations (OGR) on how to participate in a Day of Action on Wednesday, March 6. EMM and OGR are urging Episcopalians to phone their Congressional representatives, and ask them to provide the critical funding ORR needs to serve all of the populations within its mandate equally and effectively.

I urge you to take this opportunity to share with your elected officials your stories of accompaniment -- your ministry of presence with refugees -- and to help us to ensure that current and future refugee newcomers to America have the same opportunities for success as those who came before them.

With deep appreciation,

Deborah Stein
EMM Director