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Pastors, advocates call for Blackburn to welcome more refugees and asylum seekers to Tennessee
May 14, 2022

As part of Refugee Advocacy Week, in partnership with Refugee Council USA, pastors,
advocates and people of faith held their last meeting of the week with Congressional
staff to call for increasing the number of refugees to Tennessee

NASHVILLE -- As this week is the National Refugee Advocacy Week for the organization, Refugee Council USA, over 500 advocates are meeting with almost 100 Members of Congress across the United States advocating for legislation and policies that support refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, and all forcibly displaced people. As part of this effort, this morning pastors and advocates met with a member of Senator Marsha Blackburn’s staff to call on her to support an increase in the number of refugees welcomed to the US and to support their resettlement efforts here in Tennessee.

Advocates and pastors called for a return to welcome at least 125,000 refugees per year, which closely resembles the number of refugees welcomed prior to the Trump administration. Advocates, including Emilee Cutright, from Refugee Council USA, called for these efforts because they are called for in the Christian faith, and also because refugees are a net benefit to our communities, especially to the economy, and that supporting refugees in our partner countries helps stabilize international relationships and supports the USA’s national security.

Rev Laura Becker, lifelong Tennessean and current Pastor of Northminster Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga called on Senator Marsha Blackburn to remember the long history of Tennessee’s identity as the “Volunteer State.” She shared how her church is currently home to “Bridge Refugee Services,” which is part of the refugee resettlement program in Tennessee that connects refugees to employment, housing, and schools. “We see firsthand how the refugees who come to our community bring skills, education and ideas that have made our communities stronger. I celebrate all that refugees bring to our community here in Chattanooga. As Christians we believe that all humans are created in the image of God and we all deserve to live with dignity and in safety. It is our Biblical call to care for the dispossessed and those who are vulnerable, and I urge Senator Blackburn to support refugee resettlement initiatives so that we can embody the best of who we are as Tennesseans and put our status as the Volunteer State into action.”

Rev Don Jones, a native of Maryville, Tennessee, and Pastor of Sycamore Tree United Methodist Church, also spoke in support for refugees here in Tennessee. He spoke to the importance of following international law and treaties we have signed as a country and the importance of living up to our commitment to the international community. He shared how deeply personal the issue of supporting Ukrainian refugees is as he spent time living and working in Ukraine on rebuilding efforts after the fall of the USSR.

During his time in bivocational ministry Rev Jones also previously worked with a Romanian refugee who had fled the violence in his country via a refugee camp in Italy. Along with his family, this refugee settled in Washburn, TN and helped to create the strong and industrious community that is still there to this day. "They are a beautiful community of hardworking refugees who settled in that area because East Tennessee reminded them of their original home country," he stated. "We can see refugees who lived in impossible and dangerous situations who have come to the US and shown us that no matter what our fears, we can overcome those fears together with a spirit of greatness and love.“


-Information on Refugee Advocacy Week with RefugeeUSA
-Refugees are Economic Contributors
-The Afghan and Ukraine Crises Showed How the U.S. Can Rebuild Its Refugee System
-How Refugees Benefit National Security

About Southern Christian Coalition
The Southern Christian Coalition is a nonpartisan grassroots, ecumenical organization. Across the South, politicians use ideology in the guise of Christian theology to push policies that harm our communities and isolate us from our neighbors. We are a community of Christians, speaking up on the values of our faith.

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