HOUSTON – TMO and religious leaders will hold a press conference to call on President Obama and Congress to uphold the 2008 human trafficking bill on Tuesday at 4pm at St. Stephens Episcopal Church, 1805 W. Alabama.
This bill passed with bipartisan support and protects children from human trafficking by granting them immigration hearings. The “HUMANE” bill sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Henry Cuellar would undo that protection and potentially send children back to dangerous situations.
IAF organizations in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California have written a letter to President Obama and members of Congress with three requests:
- The Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, which applies to children who arrive at our borders, must be enforced and not repealed
- All refugees under the age of eighteen must have an attorney and must never be subject to expedited processing
- Religious, human rights and civic groups must be allowed access to the detention centers and shelters for unaccompanied minors
“Weakening the provisions in this law that are intended to protect the most vulnerable from violence is unacceptable,” said Rev. Lisa Hunt, rector at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church.
“These children are not immigrants; they are refugees fleeing homelands whose murder rate is twice that of Iraq,” said General Presbyter Mike Cole. “Their parents, desperate for a safer life for their children, are not gaming our system, they are entrusting their most precious gift from God to a society they have heard is compassionate. It is time for us to live up to our reputation.”
“When families devastated by disasters have come to Houston, they have been welcomed,” said Bishop Michael Rinehart. “That welcoming spirit must continue toward these children.”
Clergy and leaders from Texas, California and New Mexico IAF organizations will be meeting with their local members of Congress about these requests.
Signers from Houston include:
Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza, Archdiocese of Galveston-Diocese (emeritus)
General Presbyter Mike Cole, Presbytery of the New Covenant
Bishop Michael Rinehart, Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Bishop C. Andrew Doyle, Episcopal Diocese of Texas
Bishop Rufus Kyles, Jr., Texas Southeast First Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction, Church of God in Christ
Bishop Jeff Fisher, Episcopal Diocese of Texas
Rev. John Ogletree, First Metropolitan Church