FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 19, 2022
Press contact: Paola Ariza, firstname.lastname@example.org
Gov. Abbott’s Latest Political Attacks Target TX Communities and Organizations
WASHINGTON, DC – The #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign calls on Texas Governor Greg Abbott to immediately halt his dangerous, politically motivated calls for investigation into nonprofits and welcoming organizations along the Texas border.
Groups in El Paso, and along the Texas border, have been doing this critical welcoming work for years, helping people seeking refuge by providing shelter, clothing, and food before they continue on to their final destination in the United States. Governor Abbott’s actions are extremely harmful, both to these nonprofits and to the compassionate community members who volunteer their time and resources to support their work. As we look forward to the end of Title 42, the services of these organizations and volunteers will be more important than ever. But instead of working collaboratively with them to prepare, Governor Abbott is making their jobs even more difficult by putting a target on their backs. Abbott’s stunt will not only discourage people from lending a helping hand to asylum seekers, but also jeopardize the safety of welcoming organizations’ staff and volunteers. We have seen time and time again how the racist rhetoric espoused by politicians like Abbott directly fuels anti-immigrant violence that makes border communities less safe for everyone.
Congress and the Biden administration must step in immediately to ensure that border communities and nonprofits have the resources they need in the coming days and weeks and are safeguarded from baseless political attacks by their own governments. These organizations have been working with migrants exercising their legal right to seek protection in the United States for years and have stepped in to fill the gaps in services where state and federal governments have fallen short.
“Communities and organizations along the border, including in Texas, have a long and proud history of welcoming migrants and people seeking asylum. Callous attempts by politicians to sow hate and division undermine our country’s value of welcoming the stranger, and have the potential to fuel violence,” said Melina Roche, #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign Manager. “Instead of being political targets, welcoming organizations and communities should be well funded and resourced by our federal government for their work to uphold the human right to seek protection in the United States as guaranteed by our laws.”
“Faith based organizations in Texas have long been welcoming people seeking asylum and ensuring they are treated with dignity,” said Matt Lohmeier, of the Interfaith Welcome Coalition of San Antonio, a member organization of the national Interfaith Immigration Coalition (IIC). “We pray that the Governor–who claims to be one who will celebrate Christmas in a few short days–will see the Gospel being lived faithfully by those who respond to the stranger in the way Jesus admonished in the 25th chapter of Matthew. We compel the Governor to stop politicizing people desperately seeking safety–people like the Holy Family forced to flee two millennia ago–lest he betray Jesus himself in the face of the asylum seeker.”
“Once again, Governor Greg Abbott is spewing baseless claims and stoking fear around the border to score political points,” said Jonathan Blazer, Director of Border Strategies at the ACLU. “For years, under-resourced nonprofits along the border have worked tirelessly to provide essential social and legal services for people seeking safety at the border. They have shown up in a way the government has failed to do, and thanks to their expertise and support, border communities and people seeking safety are much better off.”
“Individuals, communities, and faith groups along the Texas border have shown time and again that their posture toward asylum seekers is one of welcome, compassion, and inclusion” said Meredith Owen, Director of Policy and Advocacy at Church World Service (CWS), a member organization of the national Interfaith Immigration Coalition (IIC). “Actions and rhetoric like Abbott’s not only contradict the values of communities along the border; they cause harm and discrimination to those who have already made the courageous decision to seek safety in the face of violence and unthinkable loss. CWS believes that everyone is deserving of a safe place to call home and of being treated with dignity, and these latest attacks put those basic rights in jeopardy, yet again. It is crucial that the current administration counteract this injustice by equipping communities that welcome asylum seekers with the resources and support they need to meet vulnerable new arrivals’ basic needs. We cannot allow our neighbors to do this work alone.”
“Governor Abbott’s xenophobic, politically-motivated attacks spew hate on local communities and organizations that are courageously working to ensure a welcoming, orderly reception in Texas for migrants and people seeking asylum,” said Savitri Arvey, Senior Policy Advisor at Women’s Refugee Commission’s Migrant Rights and Justice Program. “As Title 42, a policy that denies the legal right to seek asylum, comes to an end, shelters and service providers located at the US-Mexico border in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas must receive adequate funding from Congress. Their critical work must be supported, not attacked.”
“The last thing that any American political leader should be doing is attempting to intimidate humanitarian and faith-based non-profit organizations that serve refugee and immigrant populations along the border.” said Eleanor Acer, Senior Director for refugee protection at Human Rights First. “The tremendous work of faith-based groups and other humanitarian non-profit groups is essential to this country’s ability to receive, welcome and orient people seeking refugee protection. U.S. leaders should be working to bolster support for these efforts, not launching irresponsible stunts that are clearly aimed at generating publicity and could very well threaten the safety of humanitarian and faith workers as well as the people they serve.”
The Welcome with Dignity Campaign for asylum rights is composed of more than 100 national and regional organizations committed to transforming the way the United States receives and protects people forced to flee their homes to ensure they are treated humanely and fairly. To learn more and join our campaign visit: welcomewithdignity.org