FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 15, 2022
CWS Decries DeSantis and Abbott’s Stunts as Immoral and Harmful to Asylum Seekers
Washington D.C.– CWS today denounced Governor DeSantis and Governor Abbott’s divisive and harmful actions moving migrants across the country in politically motivated stunts. On Wednesday, September 14th, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis chartered a plane to drop off 50 Venezuelan refugees in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. This flight arrived with no notice to local officials or communities. Thursday morning, on the heels of DeSantis’s actions, Texas Governor Greg Abbott chartered two buses of asylum seekers to arrive at the gate of Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence.
“Governors DeSantis and Abbott are inflicting cruelty and harm on vulnerable people who are seeking safety by using them as political pawns,” said Meredith Owen, Director of Policy and Advocacy at CWS. “Those fleeing their homes have already experienced trauma, desperation and profound loss prior to arriving in the United States. No asylum seeker should be subjected to deceptive or forced transportation or abandoned without support. Our leaders have moral and legal obligations to welcome and protect those who are seeking asylum in the United States.”
“As a faith-based organization, we believe that all of humankind is created in the image of God (Gen 1:27), and all people should be treated with compassion as they seek protection. The history of anti-refugee, anti-family, anti-immigrant, anti-children actions and rhetoric by Governors Abbott and DeSantis have inflicted pain on the vulnerable, the least of these. Instead of playing into their unjust and unethical actions that do not represent our nation’s values, our national, state and local leaders should equip our communities with the resources they need to ensure new arrivals have access to food, clothing, shelter, legal orientation, medical care, dignified transportation and other case management services.”
CWS notes that the measures taken by DeSantis and Abbott meet the courageous decision to flee violence and persecution with cruelty, dismissal, and intentional disorientation. Not only do these tactics devalue the lives and experiences of those seeking refuge, they completely disregard the faith communities who remain steadfast in their commitment to welcome the most vulnerable.
“The acts of Governor Abbott and Governor DeSantis in this case are morally atrocious, especially in light of our sacred scriptures in Matthew 25 that call on us to see the face of Christ in the migrant and all those fleeing persecution,” added Rev. Noel Andersen, Director for Grassroots Organizing at CWS. “Faith communities who are part of the CWS network across the country are volunteering and stepping up to welcome asylum seekers and we expect our national, state, and local leaders to do everything in their power to truly welcome people seeking safety with dignity.”
While the efforts of volunteer and community groups in cities such as New York, Washington DC, Chicago, and Martha’s Vineyard have been admirable, it is vital that a well-funded, dignified reception system is put in place for asylum seekers at all levels of government. It is an ethical imperative that the United States and its leaders establish city, state and federal processes and resources that reflect the inherent value of the lives, stories, and futures of those seeking asylum.
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