On July 20, 2023, JUUstWA Board members agreed to become signers on a letter to Congress to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act, legislation that would follow through on our commitment to Afghan people who support the U.S. during our activity there. Many loyal Afghan people were left behind in the withdrawal in 2021 and those that were brought to the United States did not received the resources and services needed to establish life here in the United States. Draft letter is below.
Dear Members of Congress,
As 108 religious leaders and 61 national, state, and local faith-based organizations representing many faith traditions, we urge you to support and work to immediately pass the bipartisan Afghan Adjustment Act of 2023 (S. 2327 / H.R. 4627). If passed, the bill would provide a clear path to permanent status for Afghans living in the U.S. and expand pathways to protection for vulnerable Afghans left behind. On July 13th, the Afghan Adjustment Act was introduced as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). We strongly encourage your support of this crucial measure and its inclusion in the NDAA to provide stability and safety to tens of thousands of Afghans, many of whom risked their lives in service of the U.S. mission.
As communities of faith, we are called by our principles and sacred texts to the spiritual practice of welcome. Our congregations have historically played key roles in meeting the needs of displaced people, a tradition that has come to include supporting Afghans who have fled from the violence and persecution of the Taliban. For nearly two years, congregations and organizations have mobilized to connect Afghans with housing, language services, employment, transportation, and social support as they rebuild their lives in the U.S. However, Afghans who have become integral to our communities will continue to face significant obstacles until Congress demonstrates moral leadership by passing the Afghan Adjustment Act.
As we approach two years after the fall of the elected Afghan government in August of 2021, the need for an attainable path to permanent status for Afghans living in the U.S. has never been more urgent. More than 76,000 at-risk Afghans have been welcomed into the United States via “humanitarian parole” which provides only temporary protection and no clear path to permanent residency. Though the vast majority of Afghan parolees are eligible for asylum or Special Immigrant Visas, due to long backlogs and processing delays, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, fewer than 10% have secured permanent protection.
The Afghan Adjustment Act would provide stability and security to the thousands of Afghan evacuees who remain in legal limbo as their initial period of protection is set to expire this fall. The new pathway the bill creates would be cost-effective and secure, and there is significant precedent of Congress coming together to pass similar adjustment acts for others that have been evacuated to the U.S. under humanitarian parole.
As religious leaders, congregations and faith-based organizations, we join with a diverse range of supporters calling for the immediate passage of the Afghan Adjustment Act, including veterans, businesses, national security experts, and women’s rights leaders. Around the nation and across the political spectrum, a broad consensus has emerged: Congress must stand up for displaced Afghans and immediately pass the Afghan Adjustment Act.
Our nation’s diverse faith traditions call us to love our neighbor, accompany the vulnerable, and welcome the sojourner. We believe that it is a moral imperative to act swiftly to protect Afghans at risk. We look forward to working with you to ensure your support for the Afghan Adjustment Act as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.
Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.
Congregations & Faith-based Organizations
Northwest Immigrant Rights Project is deeply concerned about the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and stand in solidarity with Afghan people everywhere. We are grateful for the local community partners who are working to support Afghan people who have recently had to flee their country and have been arriving in our state. For those of you who are interested in assisting with local efforts, Aneelah Afzali from MAPS-AMEN has created an email list for volunteer opportunities. You can sign up for updates at this link. And we also want to encourage you to support the Emergency Afghan Refugee Fund for Washington State. We also stand in solidarity with the people of Haiti. In addition to ongoing political upheaval, violence, and the COVID-19 pandemic, conditions in Haiti have only worsened in recent months with the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and more recently, a massive 7.2 earthquake that has claimed over 2,200 lives. Even as Haiti faces these natural and political crises, deportation flights from the U.S. of Haitian nationals have continued. We recently joined over 300 organizations and advocates in urging the Biden Administration to immediately halt deportations and extend further protections to Haitian immigrants. The letter to the administration may be viewed here.
Today, the WA Immigrant Solidarity Network stands in complete solidarity with the Afghan people. We urge the Biden-Harris administration to live up to their promise of centering human rights in foreign policy and provide refuge to ALL refugees who seek safety. What you can do:
- Send a letter to your member of Congress demanding the Biden-Harris administration lift the cap on Afghan refugees immediately.
- Sign up to support Afghan refugees in Washington. Anything from clothing to housing, to mental health support is appreciated.
- Donate funds to support Afghan refugees in Washington. The Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS) is fundraising to provide much-needed resources to refugees.
- If you live in the Seattle/Tacoma area, volunteer to support local Afghan refugees. Lutheran Community Services is recruiting volunteers for apartment set up, rides from the airport, and more.
- Sign this MoveOn petition. This petition calls on President Biden to lift the cap on Afghan refugees.
- Sign this petition and send another letter to Congress about lifting the cap on Afghan refugees, with a specific focus on wartime allies.
The Church Council of Greater Seattle asks you to show up for our siblings in Haiti & Afghanistan
***CALL TO ACTION: Sign onto this letter and demand the Biden administration lift the cap on Afghan refugees NOW****
The Interfaith Immigration Coalition and the Welcome With Dignity campaign are hosting Days of Action from July 17-31 to create awareness and end Title 42 and expand asylum protections. The Biden Administration is expected to make a series of announcements on a Trump-era anti-asylum policy known as Title 42 which has been used to block asylum since March 2020, sending families back to dangerous situations and blocking their legal and moral right to seek asylum. #Faiths4Asylum has a Prayer Vigil Toolkit, an action letter to send to your Congressmembers, and a Welcome with Dignity Pledge you can sign.
- There will be an income replacement program for Washington’s undocumented workers who lost their jobs or lost their income due to the pandemic. There will be an implementation process and afterwards we will be sharing more about the program and how your members will be able to access it. This proposal includes funds for a work group to create a proposal to create a permanent program for undocumented workers who suffer loss of income in similar cases.
- $35 million was appropriated to provide healthcare services to people with little or no health coverage, regardless of immigration status. This will be provided through grants to providers, and
- A long-term plan is also included - funds will be used so that the Health Benefit Exchange can explore opportunities to facilitate the enrollment of people excluded from Medicaid or federal programs, such as undocumented persons, to a state health program for the year 2024. One option for the Exchange is to develop an application for a federal waiver. Other exceptions were included.
Detention and deportation
- HB1090, Banning Private Prisons, has been passed by the legislature and signed by the governor! The contract for the Northwest Detention Center expires in 2025 and cannot be renewed.
- HB1072, Eliminate Restrictions on the Use of Civil Legal Aid Funds, has been passed by the legislature and signed by the governor! This change will remove the restriction on the use of civil legal aid funds that does not allow the funds to be used to help undocumented persons.
|If you are directly impacted by the events in Georgia, this resource from Northwestern University has collected several different resources for fighting xenophobia and anti-Asian racism.|
- Asian Americans Advancing Justice Atlanta protects the civil rights of the AAPI community in Georgia and the southeast. If you can, consider donating.
- Asian American Feminist Collective has a wide range of resources including a zine for supporting Asian American communities during COVID-19, links to mutual aid funds and nonprofits providing support, reading lists, and more.
- Red Canary Song provides resources for Asian migrant communities, Asian sex working communities, and the overlap between these two groups. Read their statement on the murder of the Asian American massage workers in Atlanta, and consider donating.
- Check out The Making of Asian America: A History by Erika Lee for a comprehensive look on the long and forgotten history of Asian American life.
- If your representative is one of these 164 Republicans who voted against Rep. Meng’s resolution condemning Anti-Asian racism, or one of the 172 Republicans who voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (less than 24-hours after the murders in Atlanta), call them at (202) 224-3121 to let them know you were paying attention and their actions have consequences.
- Then, check out and share this resource on anti-Asian violence.
- If you’re able, split a donation among eight organizations that are fighting to protect and support the AAPI community. Click here to split a donation now.
On Thursday March 18th the Farm Workforce Modernization Act passed the house with a 247-172 vote; the majority of votes in favor coming from Democrats. C2C and Farmworker organizations nationally have opposed this legislation since it was introduced in 2019 during the Trump administration. We are deeply concerned that Democrats are giving in to political pressure to move quickly on immigration bills; with a dangerous tradeoff that will set in place the long-term implications of the FWMA. We remain opposed to the FWMA as it is written. We urge our supporters to reach out to your senators and tell them to vote “NO” on this bill. While it is being touted as a bipartisan effort to attain a path for citizenship, what is being left out of the conversation is that this bill’s “path” sets up an 8-year period of exploitation that farmworkers have to survive in order to eventually qualify for citizenship. Workers who are injured during the eight-year process will be disqualified. The ultimate recommendation for citizenship will have to come from employers, which further entrenches the longstanding power imbalance between workers and farm owners. Two dangerous long-term mandates in this bill are forcing agricultural employers to use E-Verify, the faulty audit system that has resulted in massive detention and deportation. This will put millions of undocumented people living and working in the United States at risk. The other mandate is linking legalization to the exploitative federal H2A (guest worker) program, and permanently expanding it, making it harder for workers to organize and easier for corporate agriculture to obtain and exploit cheap labor, instead of hiring farmworkers already living in the U.S. Read our joint statement with the Food Chain Workers Alliance here. Sign on to Oppose FWMA Here! Call and write your senators THIS WEEK and ask them to vote NO on the FWMA. Find your senator’s contact info here!
On January 20, 2021, newly inaugurated President Biden announced the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, a broad immigration bill he sent to Congress immediately upon taking office. The bill would provide a path to citizenship for the undocumented population, a border management approach that includes a focus on addressing root causes of forced migration, a legal immigration reform platform, a series of humanitarian provisions, and additional rights for immigrant workers. On February 18, the bill was introduced in the House by Representative Linda Sanchez (D-California) and in the Senate by Senator Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey). https://immigrationforum.org/article/u-s-citizenship-act-of-2021-bill-summary/Read more here.
Good news! SB 5141-The HEAL Act, made it out of the Senate Ways & Means Committee last Friday! We are thrilled, but with a close 13-12 vote, there is no room for error. We must be methodical in our next steps.
Now, our focus turns to passing the HEAL Act out of the Senate chamber. This means your Senator needs to hear from you today!
With the tragedy in Texas serving as the lastest example, communities of color bear the brunt of the burden borne by environmental disasters. This can lead to medical ailments, the loss of housing and income, and create lasting hardships. It doesn’t have to be this way, and the HEAL Act directs state agency staff to establish meaningful relationships with underserved communities. This will improve the preparation, prevention, and communication work our state does to shield us from environmental threats. It is crucial because we want everyone to be safe when the next wildfire, flood, or heat wave strikes.
Think of the state of our environment as a sick patient and our environmental laws as the doctor meant to provide the cure. Without the HEAL Act, that doctor won’t be able to provide a full diagnosis, prescribe the right medicines, and provide a wellness plan that matches the patient's needs and abilities. We need to HEAL our environment and not let it get any sicker.
We are engaged in a relentless communication effort to ensure the Senate prioritizes the HEAL Act. Stay tuned for additional actions soon!
Thank you so much,
Sameer Ranade Civic Engagement and Policy Manager Sameer@frontandcentered.org (360) 218-4642
AS JOE BIDEN took the oath of office last month, Guatemalan security forces at the Honduran border thwarted thousands of U.S.-bound migrants. While decadeslong American imperialism has facilitated displacement throughout the region, the U.S. is increasingly outsourcing its deadly immigration policy. This week on Intercepted: The Biden administration announced it will begin to process the 25,000 asylum-seekers stuck in squalid border town camps as part of Donald Trump’s so-called Migrant Protection Protocols, a program commonly referred to as “Remain in Mexico.” But immigration advocates fear Biden will not reverse the bipartisan trend of his predecessors to further militarize the southern border and expand the reaches of immigration enforcement — policies that have led to more migrant deaths and detention in recent decades. Despite Biden’s executive actions to reverse the Muslim ban, initiate migrant family reunification, and fortify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, his administration has indicated that it will continue to support Mexican and Guatemalan armed enforcement of their borders on behalf of the U.S. Read more here.
“If they’re hearing complaints like, ‘Oh it’s cold in here,’ they’ll be like, ‘It could be worse,’ and turn on fans.”
While accurate, the headlines do not always acknowledge both the hope and frustration immigration advocates feel with the new administration. To be sure, President Joe Biden has signed a flurry of executive orders that do have an immediate impact on certain aspects of immigration law. But immigrants say they experienced such draconian policies the past four years that they have a hard time getting excited about simply returning to what might amount to a pre-Trump status quo. Read more here.
COVID-19 has pulled back the veil on the strikingly poor workplace conditions of these essential workers, built by decades of insufficient farmworker health and safety policy, poor immigration policy, and limited health care access. As a consequence, at least 86,900 food workers have tested positive for COVID-19 – but with uneven data collection, exacerbated by businesses' lack of transparency over workplace outbreaks and workers' avoidance of testing due to fear of losing income, the figures we have are likely an underestimate. Read more here.
Each year, untold numbers of migrants disappear in the borderlands after being pushed into dangerous and remote terrain by Border Patrol, the same agency that is then tasked with responding to migrants’ search and rescue emergencies. A new report released Wednesday found that the federal agency does not respond to 40% of these emergency calls. In a series of reports published over the course of five years, the southern Arizona organizations No More Deaths and La Coalición de Derechos Humanos have cataloged and reported the specific Border Patrol policies and tactics that have fueled a crisis of death and disappearance in the borderlands. The first report, released in 2016, detailed the 1994 Border Patrol policy “Prevention Through Deterrence” in which the United States militarized urban border areas in an effort to steer migrants away from ports of entry and into geographically harsher and more remote and hazardous regions, leading to their deaths. The second report, published in 2018, detailed Border Patrol’s practice of destroying life-saving humanitarian aid left by volunteers for migrants. Part three in the series published Wednesday—Left to Die: Border Patrol, Search and Rescue, and the Crisis of Disappearance—details how when 911 response systems receive calls from people crossing into the United States without authorization, they transfer those calls away from local emergency services and to Border Patrol, an agency that for decades has failed to provide life-saving assistance to undocumented immigrants who are lost and dying. Read more here.
Access to health care should be available to all, regardless of immigration status. Equitable access to health care coverage is particularly crucial now, as underlying inequities have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Immigrants and communities of color are disproportionately contracting, hospitalized for, and dying from COVID-19. Demand more equitable health care access from lawmakers and ensure the health of Washington’s communities.