CWS Statement to the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Pertaining to the Nomination of General John Kelly for Secretary of Homeland Security
January 11, 2017
As an ecumenical organization representing 37 Protestant member communions, Church World Service urges the committee to emphasize the importance of access to protection for refugees and asylum seekers during its consideration of the nomination of General John Kelly for Secretary of Homeland Security. As we face the worst displacement crisis in recorded history, with over 65 million people forced from their homes, we call on General Kelly to recognize refugee protection and resettlement as cornerstones of U.S. global leadership that promote U.S. interests, including regional stability and global security.
While CWS respects General Kelly’s military service, we are concerned that he could lead DHS to pursue an increasingly militarized approach to immigration policies. DHS is charged with protecting and processing asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, refugees, and other vulnerable populations arriving to the United States. It is essential that the DHS Secretary carry out this charge with compassion, prioritize access to protection for asylum seekers, and respect the human rights and dignity of all individuals, including immigrants. We are troubled that General Kelly has called immigrants from Latin America an “existential threat” to the United States, and has supported circumventing restrictions to train foreign forces that have committed grave human rights violations.
The incoming administration has alluded to policy proposals that would discriminate against people based on their religion or country of origin, drive families apart through record deportations, dismantle trust between local law enforcement and the communities they serve, and militarize the border. All of these ideas are an affront to our country’s values of religious freedom, family unity, fairness, and equality. We encourage Senators to concerns about these proposals during General Kelly’s confirmation hearing and ask if he will safeguard access to protection, protect family unity, and reject policies that target populations based on national origin or religious identity.
CWS also expresses absolute opposition to Kris Kobach as a nominee for political appointment, which has been recently rumored, given his current work on President-Elect Trump’s transition team. Kris Kobach has clear ties to white supremacists and hate organizations, and has authored and advanced policies of discrimination against immigrants, Muslims and other religious minorities, and people of color — all at taxpayers’ expense. Kobach co-authored a 2010 Arizona bill, SB 1070, which encouraged racial profiling by law enforcement and was found largely unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Kobach was also instrumental in the passage of similar laws in other communities, most of which have been overturned by federal courts. Kobach has championed policies geared toward making immigrants’ lives unbearable, and has sued the federal government over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — a lawsuit that the U.S. district court dismissed. Kobach has grounded his policies in bigotry, irrational fears, and racial discrimination and is unfit to serve in any administration. We urge all Senators to strongly oppose any nomination of Kris Kobach.
CWS stands in solidarity with all refugees, immigrants, and newcomers and remains committed to defending the rights and dignity of all people. For this reason, we urge the Senate to reject any nomination of Kris Kobach, and we ask both the Senate and General John Kelly to honor our country’s legacy of welcome by supporting policies that are grounded in our values of compassion, hospitality, and respect.