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Open Doors US & World Relief Warn Proposed Changes to U.S. Asylum Laws Could Imperil Persecuted Christians

Given unprecedented levels of religious persecution around the world, organizations urge Biden administration & Congress not to restrict due process for asylum seekers

Today (December 15, 2023), Open Doors US and World Relief are urging the Biden administration and Members of Congress to ensure that the U.S. sustains robust due process protections for those fleeing persecution on account of their faith so that these individuals are not forgotten or lost in the broader conversations on immigration. 

“At a time when Christians and other religious minorities face horrifying persecution in many parts of our world, the U.S. must not close its doors to those who can demonstrate a well-founded fear of persecution,” said Ryan Brown, president and CEO of Open Doors US. 

“As Christians around the world prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, we must not forget that Jesus himself was forced to flee his homeland because of a threat of persecution,” said Myal Greene, president and CEO of World Relief.

The Biden administration and a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators are reportedly considering dramatic changes to longstanding U.S. asylum policies that would allow the U.S. government to summarily expel migrants encountered at the U.S.-Mexico border without processing their asylum claims. The House of Representatives has already passed a bill, H.R. 2, that would have similar effects and also dramatically restrict existing legal entry mechanisms for those who profess a well-founded fear of persecution, and some Members of Congress are insisting on that bill as a blueprint for further negotiations.

“To be clear, not everyone who arrives at the U.S.-Mexico border should be allowed in,” added Matthew Soerens, vice president for advocacy and policy at World Relief. “We have long called for investments and improvements to ensure more secure borders and more efficient asylum processes, such as the Dignity Act. We’re grateful that bipartisan discussions are occurring, but the final result of those negotiations must not result in our country turning its back on our longstanding commitment to due process. These changes could ultimately send Christians and others back to situations of persecution or even death.”

In September, Open Doors US and World Relief jointly published “Closed Doors,” detailing the current state of religious persecution around the world and its connection to U.S. refugee resettlement and asylum policies. 

The report, which revealed that one in seven Christians worldwide now suffer from persecution or discrimination, also noted the vitality of a robust asylum process for those who reach the U.S. after having fled such religious persecution. The report specifically notes concerns with H.R. 2 as passed in May by the House of Representatives. 

“There’s no question that Congress should address the very real security and humanitarian challenges at our nation’s border, and our asylum system should not be the avenue of entry for all individuals seeking a better life in the United States,” Brown continued. “But in addressing these concerns, our country could make a terrible moral error if we give up our commitment to due process for those who arrive and profess to have fled persecution, including for their faith in Jesus.”

“With the Biden administration and a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators reportedly considering dramatic changes to U.S. asylum policy as a part of a broader funding package, we are urging them against any changes that would restrict due process for those fleeing persecution, including for Christians persecuted for their faith in Jesus,” Greene continued

Echoing the calls-to-action of September’s Closed Door report, the leaders encourage American Christians to stand with the persecuted church through prayer and advocacy. This includes urging their lawmakers and the President to reject proposed changes to asylum policy that would create additional barriers to those fleeing a well-founded fear of persecution. 

To access the full report, please visit:  

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