Bishop Deb speaks to Syrian Refugees Deb



Dear friends,

My heart is breaking over the terrible and tragic attacks that have recently taken place around the world. My prayers are for all those whose lives are impacted by the constant threat of violence and terror.

In the wake of attacks this past week, more than half of our country’s governors have called for a pause to the resettlement of Syrian refugees and legislation continues to be introduced that would limit or stop the Department of State’s resettlement. I am disappointed by this reaction from our elected officials. These statements and actions are harmful to refugees, misleading to Michigan’s citizens, and only further the fear and terror perpetuated by extremist groups. The screening process to enter the U.S. as a refugee is comprehensive and rigorous.

The world is a dangerous place. Thousands of innocent people are attempting to flee violence, hatred, and extremism. Even “pausing” our refugee resettlement, I believe, will make the world a more dangerous place.
Recent United Nations statistics tell us that three quarters of the Syrian refugees who are waiting to enter the U.S. are women and young children. As Christians we are called to welcome the stranger and to pay special attention and care to the widow, orphan, and foreigner – the most vulnerable members of our human family.

As United Methodists, our Book of Resolutions reminds us that “Jesus fully identifies with the sojourner to the point that to welcome the sojourner is to welcome Jesus himself. (Matthew 25:35) Jesus teaches us to show special concern for the poor and oppressed who come to our land seeking survival and peace.”

Standing on the cusp of Advent, we are reminded that Jesus and his parents fled to Egypt to escape the violent regime of Herod. It is with this tradition of compassion and hospitality in my heart that I encourage you to respond in the following ways:
Join me in calling our elected officials to welcome the resettlement of Syrian refugees in our nation and in our state. You can email Senator Debbie Stabenow , Senator Gary Peters, and your congressional representative, or by calling the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121. You can email Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s office or call 517-373-3400. Please share this message: “As a United Methodist living in [City], I support the resettlement of Syrian refugees in my state. I urge (Senator / Representative / Governor) to represent me and other constituents who seek to welcome Syrian refugees.”
I also encourage you and your congregations to consider supporting the resettlement of refugee families in the coming year. You can learn more by attending an informational meeting organized by the Detroit Renaissance District and the Refugee Department of Lutheran Social Services of Michigan on December 9 at 10:00 am at Newburg United Methodist Church (36522 Ann Arbor Trail, Livonia, MI 48154). LSSM staff will share the current state of refugee resettlement and how congregations can assist in the effort. A summary of this meeting will be posted on Please RSVP to Rev. Paul Perez ( if you plan to attend.
In the gospels Jesus says, “Do not be afraid!” We as Christians can guide the world to live in hope, rather than fear, and welcome refugees into our communities and our lives.

Blessings and peace to you all,

Bishop Deborah Lieder Kiesey
Michigan Area

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Take action to welcome Syrian refugees now!

Message from the General Board of Church and Society Office of Civil and Human Rights:

U.S. leaders are vowing to reject Syrian refugees
Take action to welcome refugees now!
November 18, 2015
Refugees are the single most vetted and scrutinized individuals entering the U. S.
Yet we have U.S. elected officials who are fully aware of our existing security systems and they are shamefully calling for discrimination against Muslim refugees. With some leaders even calling for the refugee resettlement system to be shut down entirely. This is inexcusable. As followers of the refugee Christ, we must welcome all sojourners recognizing that security measures are in place and have been effective. I urge you to take action today and to recruit folks from your congregation and surrounding congregations to take action as well. Here is what you and others can do:

Please take action TODAY:

Call your Representative and Senators : 202-224-3121

AND if you live in these states, call your Governor!
·         Alabama: (334) 242-7100

·         Arizona: (520) 628-6580 / (602) 542-4331

·         Arkansas: (501) 682-2345

·         Florida: (850) 488-7146

·         Georgia: (404) 656-1776

·         Idaho: (208) 334-2100

·         Illinois: (217) 782-0244 / (312) 814-2121

·         Indiana: (317) 569-0709

·         Iowa: (515) 281-5211

·         Kansas: (785) 296-3232

·         Louisiana: (225) 342-7015

·         Maine: (207) 287-3531 / 1-855-721-5203

·         Massachusetts: (617) 725-4005 / (413) 784-1200 / (202) 624-7713

·         Michigan: (517) 373-3400

·         New Hampshire: (603) 271-2121

·         New Jersey: (609) 292-6000

·         North Carolina: (919) 814-2000

·         Ohio: (614) 466-3555

·         Oklahoma: (405) 521-2342

·         South Carolina: (803) 734-2100

·         Texas: 800-843-5789 / (512) 463-1782

·         Wisconsin: (608) 266-1212
When you call, tell the receptionist that as a constituent, you want to help WELCOME Syrian refugees and that you’re against the calls of some governors to reject Syrian refugees. Here is a sample script:

“As a United Methodist, [City] I support the resettlement of Syrian refugees in my state. I urge the Senator / Representative / Governor to represent me and other constituents who seek to welcome Syrian refugees.”

Here are some helpful points that you may want to mention, but the most important point is your story and why your community wants to welcome Syrian refugees!

·         The U.S. government handpicks the refugees who resettle here, and refugees are the most thoroughly vetted people to come to the United States.

·         All refugees resettled in the United States undergo rigorous security screenings by the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, Department of Defense and multiple intelligence agencies, including biometric checks, forensic testing, medical screenings and in-person interviews.

·         This is not an either/or situation. The United States can continue to welcome refugees while also continuing to ensure national security. We must do both.

Let’s continue to welcome the refugee Christ.

In Christ,

Bill Mefford
Director, Civil & Human Rights

Spotlight on Syrian Refugees


Michigan prepares

Part of the United Methodist Committee on Relief’s care for immigrants and refugees is facilitated by a network of clinics known as Justice For Our Neighbors.Michigan stands ready to assist through the services of Justice for Our Neighbors. JFON is a legal ministry supported by the United Methodist Church to provide free legal services to immigrants in need.

Director of Justice for our Neighbors Southeastern Michigan (JFON-SEMI), Tori Booker, reports: “Currently, our attorney is representing a family from Syria with their political asylum application and is ready to serve others. We are also prepared to help Syrian families apply for Temporary Protected Status now that Congress has authorized this form of relief.” Apart from providing free legal services, JFON also operates “in a climate of intentional hospitality through our clinics, which are hosted by United Methodist churches. Tori remarks, “Clients who are nervous or frightened arrive at our clinics and are greeted with friendly faces, snacks and an attitude of welcome.”

Laura Rampersad, JFON West Michigan’s Director, adds: “As far as immediate response to Syrian crisis there will be a need for church placements for new arrivals. Congregations should consider answering the call if Congress increases refugees allowed into U.S.” She lists “housing, employment and school as immediate needs of families navigating immigration issues.” JFON West Michigan has strong ties to the two major regional refugee resettlement agencies in Bethany Christian Services and Lutheran Social Services.

Chris Cavanaugh, Program Manager of Refugee Services for Lutheran Social Services of Michigan, says, “We have been gearing up statewide for a resettlement program for Syrians, meeting with local Syrian-Americans, Syrian professionals, and the Islamic Center. We have resettled a few cases here in Grand Rapids and almost 60 Syrians in Detroit.”

Cavanaugh believes there is strong precedent for increased mobilization: “After the Vietnam War the U.S. was able to be very responsive and resettled over 200,000 ‘boat people.’ There is much similarity to what we are seeing in Europe,” he notes. He encourages interested individuals to consider sponsorship, describing the refugees’ situation this way: “Syrians have experienced high trauma and they need mental health support. They have a strong willingness to be contributing members of the community with eagerness to work and integrate.” Churches are uniquely positioned to facilitate integration. “The best way to help them integrate is just to get to know them and help them out with everyday things we take for granted,” Cavanaugh concludes.

~Michigan Area News Editor Kay DeMoss contributed to this report

Read More »

DACA/DAPA remains in holding pattern

From National Immigration Law Center:

On May 26, 2015, a divided panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the federal government’s request for an emergency stay of the Texas federal district court’s decision (or preliminary injunction) that blocked DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents) and “expanded” DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) from being implemented. The circuit court’s decision leaves in place, for now, the February nationwide injunction of the two major immigration actions announced by President Obama last November. When implemented, DAPA and expanded DACA will allow millions of immigrants to come forward and apply for work authorization and protection from deportation.

This decision applies only to the request for an emergency stay while the federal government’s appeal of the district court’s decision moves forward. It is not the Fifth Circuit’s final ruling on whether the district court was correct in granting the preliminary injunction and blocking the immigration actions nationwide. While two of the three judges on the Fifth Circuit panel voted to deny the stay, one of the judges disagreed and authored a powerful dissent outlining why the order blocking the president’s immigration actions is legally and factually unsound and why the emergency stay should have been granted.

5 facts about immigration in Michigan | 2014-12-01 | Grand Rapids Business Journal

5 facts about immigration in Michigan | 2014-12-01 | Grand Rapids Business Journal.

Stand up for Families


Tell Congress to Support President Obama’s Deferred Action to Keep Families Together

Some members of Congress have threatened to stop administrative action through legislation, legal action or blocking funding for implementation. The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church has supported the call for Immigration Reform and encouraged local communities to participate in ministries of mercy and justice.

It is important for Congress to hear from United Methodists that you support the president expanding deferred action.

“Immigrant families received a word of mercy and a measure of justice,” said Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño (California-Pacific Conference), when she heard about the president’s deferred action executive order<>. “We thank God that these immigrant families can now come out of the shadows and are grateful to President Obama for the strong statement his action sends to the immigrant community and to Congress.”

“This good news was indeed a word of mercy pointing toward a focus on hope and not fear,” said Bishop Julius C. Trimble (Iowa), chairperson, United Methodist Interagency Task Force on Immigration<>.

President Obama has signed fewer executive orders than any president in 130 years. Deferred action is one of the many long-standing forms of prosecutorial discretion available to the Executive Branch. Indeed, every U.S. President since at least 1956<> has used their authority to offer temporary immigration relief to groups in need. Ronald Reagan used categorical grants of deferred action for large groups of undocumented immigrants in 1987, as did George H.W. Bush in 1990.

The United Methodist Church believes …

To refuse to welcome migrants to this country and to stand by in silence while families are separated, individual freedoms are ignored, and the migrant community in the United States is demonized by members of Congress and the media, is complicity to sin.

The United Methodist Church affirms the worth, dignity and inherent value and rights of every person regardless of their nationality or legal status. (Welcoming the Migrant to the United States<>, Book of Resolutions)

Please call your member of Congress NOW!

Tell Congress: “My name is _______, and I’m from (City, State, Congregation, Community). As a United Methodist, I support President Obama expanding deferred action to immigrant families. I ask Congress to support this decision and to promote its implementation.”

Please make your call now: 1-888-427-0530!

Information Poster for Admin Relief – for Spanish version go to: Noticias page

House’s Inaction Blamed on Children – Seriously??

Post election comment from Senator Boehner blamed the unaccompanied youth arriving at our border as the reason they have not acted.  This is the farthest stretch our leaders in House have ever made – and cannot go left without response from Immigation Advocates!  The timing alone does not correlate.  They were not proposing any action this summer just before an election.  And the culprit definitely had no agenda when they arrived at our border and pleaded for asylum.

Clip for that news conference on 11/6/2014:John_Boehner_official_portrait

Boehner said the House’s inaction on immigration was due to the influx of unaccompanied minors who have been caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally, a problem that peaked this summer.

“What held us back last year was a flood of kids coming to the border because of the actions that the president had already taken,” Boehner said.

A reporter asked what had stopped House Republicans from taking up immigration during the 18 months before the border crisis.

“I could regale you with all of my challenges of trying to get members on both sides of the aisle to deal with this. They were numerous,” Boehner said. “But hope springs eternal.”

Boehner said he would have to talk to his fellow House Republicans before he could guarantee that the chamber would take up immigration reform if Obama agrees to drop his plans for executive action. Boehner added that he personally thinks Congress ought to address immigration reform.

“It’s time to deal with it,” he said.

Tell President Obama:

It is time for bold action on immigration

Tell President Obama: It is time for bold action on immigration

Before the elections, President Obama and Senate Democrats put political considerations above moral and humanitarian concerns of millions of aspiring Americans by delaying action on immigration reform until after the mid-term elections.

The president’s broken promise1 ended up backfiring as it deflated key parts of the Democratic party’s base.2

We cannot accept any more excuses, and we won’t accept half-measures. The president can no longer put off executive action to protect millions of our families who are at grave risk of being separated because of our broken immigration system.

Tell President Obama: Use all legal means available to suspend deportations and expand deferred action to immigrants who would have qualified for legalization under the Senate immigration reform bill.

To read more:  <<click here>>

To sign petition: <<click here>>

Administrative Relief Info

Brief summary:   President Obama promised yesterday that he is going to make an immigration executive order (which we also call “administrative relief”) by the end of this year.  The President stated that he will eliminate these Executive Orders if and when Congress enacts legislation which he can sign.
Additional information coming from other sources other than the article:  Some people in the advocate community expect the President will announce the administrative relief by mid-December.  We do not know who or how many people it will protect.  One possibility is parents of U.S. citizens who have lived in the U.S. for a certain period of time.  DREAMer groups and others are also pressing that the order  include parents of young people with DACA.

Ted Cruz Threatens to Force Senate Vote on Obama’s Amnesty Plans