From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ABCUSA: National Ministries Asks American Baptists to Witness for

From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date 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, 
nonprofit organization.

"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
the ongoing 
crisis in Haiti for interviews and asylum processing in accordance with 
international law.

		2. Grant Temporary Protected Status (TBS) to those persons
currently in 
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
placement policy 
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 
in Haiti."

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; 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, 
(609) 587-8700.

*Please contact:
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;;

Richard W. Schramm
Deputy General Secretary for Communication
American Baptist Churches USA
P.O. Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482-0851

Browse month . . . Browse month (sort by Source) . . . Advanced Search & Browse . . . WFN Home