Christians are called to have compassion and to aid the injured, the lost, and the dispossessed. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has a long history of policies and actions to aid refugees in stressed regions. Our nation has grown over the centuries from the influx of refugees from many nations. Since 1940, the United States has provided special refugee status to many thousands of refugees from military conflicts in which the United States participated.
The continuing conflict in Iraq has resulted in millions of refugees and internally displaced persons, yet very few Iraqis have been granted requested refugee status and resettlement in the United States. Attempts by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to aid the resettlement of Iraqi refugees, including Iraqi church leaders, have revealed this refugee crisis:
• Very few visas to enter the United States have been authorized or issued for Iraqi refugees
• Processing of refugees is extremely slow, apparently due to complex procedures and inadequate personnel resources
• Most Iraqi refugees and internally displaced persons, now in the millions, are in appalling, desperate situations in Iraq and the neighboring countries.
We believe that the church must urge our government to address these humanitarian concerns by taking the actions recommended in this overture and that the church itself must respond to the crisis by encouraging congregations to participate in resettlement efforts.