By NJFON Co-Executive Director Alba Jaramillo
With thanks for the assistance from New York JFON and New England JFON
National Justice For Our Neighbors, a network of 19 immigration legal service providers, and Methodists Associated Representing the Cause of Hispanic Americans (MARCHA), the official Hispanic/ Latinx Caucus in the United Methodist Church, condemn, in the strongest terms, Governors Abbot’s (TX), DeSantis (FL), and Ducey’s (AZ) inhumane migrant relocation programs.
These three governors have bused—or flown—thousands of asylum seekers to Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago, Martha’s Vineyard, and even Vice President Kamala Harris’s official residence. They have done so in bad faith and without coordination with non-profits and local government.
Their intent is transparent: to divide, sow mistrust, and create chaos until we turn away migrants at the border seeking refuge.
Rather than meeting international obligations to welcome and protect asylum seekers, these governors are using asylum seekers as political pawns to fabricate a crisis leading up to the midterm elections. They have intentionally misled asylum seekers with false promises, sabotaging their cases by leaving them stranded far from their scheduled court hearings, and then purposefully overwhelming community shelters and local resources.
As a network of legal service providers and people of faith, we know that this political stunt is cruel and immoral.
We jointly call for:
- an immediate end to this dehumanizing political charade of busing migrants around the nation
- all elected leaders and political candidates to refrain from using migrants and asylum seekers as political props
- national and local news networks to provide accurate and unbiased information as they cover this humanitarian crisis
- faith communities and other community groups where migrants are being bused to organize and offer radical hospitality to ensure the safety and well-being of those displaced through this vindictive practice
- the Biden Administration “to restore and strengthen our asylum system,” as has been promised multiple times since his campaign.
Asylum is not about politics. It is a human and legal right.
The asylum process must begin by allowing asylum seekers to seek refuge at our borders, and it must be followed by compassion at every step of the process. It is our moral duty.
Our partners and JFON sites respond:
The current treatment of immigrants arriving at the border seeking asylum by the governors of Texas, Florida, and Arizona is inhumane and unacceptable. We must not allow hateful tactics, like the busing of migrants by these governors, to take over our nation. We applaud all the welcoming cities, like our own city of Chicago, that have stepped up to show that we can do better.
—Claudia Marchan, Executive Director, Northern Illinois Justice for Our Neighbors
Coordinating transportation for recently arriving asylum seekers to their families and sponsors is an essential part of the humanitarian response of offering welcome to those seeking safety. But in our state, Governor Abbott is using human lives for political theater, attempting to create chaos. Asylum seekers deserve to be welcomed with dignity, not treated as political pawns.
—Kristen Bowdre, Executive Director, El Paso Justice for Our Neighbors
The haphazard and callous busing of migrants from Texas to New York is without rhyme or reason. One of our immigrant friends bused to New York—and currently staying at our church—was scheduled to report to Immigration and Customs Enforcement in San Francisco. Three of our immigrant friends were also bused to New York, even though they had family and job prospects in other states. These are human beings, who are deserving of so much better.
—Lea Mathews, St Paul & St. Andrew United Methodist Church
We must stop the harmful use of asylum seekers and their quest for safety as political propaganda. Our migrant communities and asylum seekers have legal rights to seek safety at our borders with genuine representation and a clear understanding of their legal options. We must continue our relentless advocacy to end this harmful movement.
—Roxana Aguilar, Executive Director, Arizona Justice for Our Neighbors
We call on houses of worship, people of faith, and local communities to do what they can to provide holistic assistance, resources, and community for our migrant sisters and brothers. Over the coming weeks and months, we encourage members of the faith to contact their representatives in Congress and the Biden Administration to urge them to restore and strengthen our asylum system as was promised. We need permanent solutions, and one way to do that is through legislation.
—Rev. Kendal McBroom, Director of Civil and Human Rights, General Board of Church and Society
Cover photo courtesy of Mike DuBose, United Methodist News Service.