New travel restrictions placed on additional countries as introduced on Jan. 31 by the Trump administration compel us to speak out. This policy change is not only discriminatory, but it also prolongs the separation of families longing to be reunited with loved ones. The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the ELCA, writes in a recent pastoral letter, “Through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus God has set us free from ourselves to serve our neighbor. This expanded policy separates families from loved ones already here. Further, it prevents people – especially those escaping perilous or life-threatening situations in several of these nations – from coming to safety in the U.S. It does not enhance our safety or reflect our vocation as Christians.”
The announced travel ban expansion is set to include more countries in Africa and Asia. Under the policy, citizens from Nigeria, Eritrea, Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan will be barred from applying for visas to immigrate to the United States. Citizens of two other countries, Sudan and Tanzania, will no longer be allowed to participate in the Diversity Immigrant Visa lottery, which diversifies the source countries of immigrants to the U.S. from countries with low rates on immigration. The lottery has particularly allowed individuals of African countries to migrate to the U.S. who otherwise would not be able to do so. S.1123 - National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants Act (NO BAN Act), would ensure that no one is banned from our country based on religious or nationality-based discrimination. The ELCA has voiced support for the bill numerous times by issuing statements and endorsing the NO BAN Act.
The travel ban expansion announced by the president requires a vocal response rooted in our faith and social teaching. We ask you to stand in solidarity with our immigrants and their families by sending a message to your Senators and request that they support S.1123/H.R.2214, the NO BAN Act.
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