From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
ABCUSA: National Ministries Asks American Baptists to Witness for
Worldwide Faith News <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Fri, 02 Apr 2004 13:03:53 -0800
Justice for Haitian Refugees
American Baptist News Service (Valley Forge, Pa. 4/2/04)--In the wake of
recent political turmoil in Haiti, National Ministries encourages American
Baptists to witness for justice for Haitian brothers and sisters in Christ
who are fleeing the violence of their homeland in search of safety.
For Haitians in America, the crisis is not just in Haiti; it is also in the
United States. The Rev. Brenda Halliburton, National Ministries' Black
Churches Strategist, says, "A call to mission for American Baptists today
must include walking in solidarity with our Haitian brothers and sisters.
Ours is a call to advocate for just policies for Haitians in America. We
must ensure America remains a place of refuge for all persons-particularly,
at this time, for those escaping the crisis in Haiti."
Current U.S. policy toward Haitian refugees violates international legal
norms, denies Haitians fair access to the U.S. asylum process, intercepts
them at sea and subjects them to forced return or indefinite detention,
reports the U.S. Committee for Refugees, a public information and advocacy
program of Immigration and Refugee Services of America, a nongovernmental,
"It is not unusual for boats of Haitian refugees to sink or to be
intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard and returned to Haiti without the
passengers ever having had an opportunity to ask for asylum," says Joan M.
Maruskin, a representative for the Church World Service Immigration and
Refugee Program. "When a ship of refugees makes it to shore, any Haitian on
board who does not disappear into the landscape is immediately placed in
Department of Homeland Security Detention. This means that men, women and
children seeking asylum are jailed in one of several detention centers."
American Baptists can witness for justice for these displaced persons by
calling the White House and contacting other key members* of the U.S.
government. Ask the officials to:
1. Encourage the United States to receive persons escaping
crisis in Haiti for interviews and asylum processing in accordance with
2. Grant Temporary Protected Status (TBS) to those persons
the United States. TBS will permit Haitians to reside here and qualify for
work authorization for 18 months.
3. Urge the United States to reconsider its resettlement
by contacting President George Bush.
By taking its fair share in resettling Haitian refugees, the United States
will not only provide safety and sanctuary to some of the world's most
vulnerable people, but also set an example for other nations to follow,
encouraging their participation in the resettlement effort as well.
"Our Haitian brothers and sisters who live in the United States live in
an 'in-between' or an 'in and both' world, because their lives here are
connected to loved ones who remain in Haiti," says the Rev. Dr. Cheryl F.
Dudley, National Ministries' associate executive director for Church in
Community Transformation. "I believe a part of our call is to walk with
them in the 'in-between,' to share their burdens and concerns. Because
complex circumstances command complex responses, I urge us to tap into our
spiritual, social and political resources to work toward sustained healing
Along with contacting government officials, National Ministries urges
American Baptists to be in prayer for the planned Church World Service
Advocacy Day event in Washington, D.C., May 3.
Current information about the crisis is available at
www.churchworldservice.org; click on "CWS Response to Haiti Crisis."
Background information can be found in the Volume 3 2003 issue of National
Ministries' publication The Christian Citizen, available by calling
1-800-ABC-3USA, ext. 2074.
For additional information, contact these National Ministries staff
members, also at 1-800-ABC-3USA:
Rev. Dr. Cheryl Dudley, Associate Executive Director, Church in Community
Transformation, ext. 2420;
Ken George, National Coordinator, Direct Human Services, ext. 2034;
Rev. Brenda Halliburton, National Coordinator, Black Churches Strategist,
ext. 2443; and
Curtis Ramsey-Lucas, National Coordinator, Public and Social Advocacy, ext.
These clergy, who are involved in National Ministries' Haitian ministry,
are also available for more information:
Rev. Dr. Lemaire Alerte, Haitian Ministries Consultant, (201) 332-6912; and
Rev. Edgar Nicolas, President, ABC Haitian Alliance/ABCNJ Area Minister,
George Bush, President: (202) 456-1111
Tom Ridge, Secretary of Homeland Security: (202) 282-8000
Colin Powell, Secretary of State: (202) 647-5291
Eduardo Aguirre, Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: (202)
American Baptist News Service: Office of Communication, American Baptist
Churches USA, P.O. Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482-0851; (800)ABC-3USA
x2077 / (610)768-2077; fax: (610)768-2320; www.abc-usa.org;
Richard W. Schramm
Deputy General Secretary for Communication
American Baptist Churches USA
P.O. Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482-0851
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