[Episcopal Diocese of Virginia] Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Holy Scripture commands us over and over again to do the work of God by welcoming strangers and loving them as God loves them.
This past week in our nation we have heard news that calls us to redouble our commitment to this work. On Monday, our President declared that some 200,000 Salvadoran immigrants, who have been in the United States with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) since earthquakes devastated parts of El Salvador in 2001, will lose protected status by September of 2019. With that change in status, they would have to be deported to a country that is not their home and that does not have the infrastructure to receive them.
The Salvadoran men, women and children affected by this decision are not “other;” they are not all strangers to us. Instead, many hundreds are fellow Episcopalians, members of at least seven congregations in our Diocese. What happens to them affects us profoundly, because they are our brothers and sisters.
To our Salvadoran members and friends, we your Bishops say that we stand with you. We honor the commitments you have made to our civic and church communities as you have raised families, worked hard, paid taxes and contributed positively to our society. And we promise that we will take whatever political actions we can to reverse this decision for your sake, as well as for the sake of the Haitian, Nicaraguan and Sudanese immigrants who have already lost protected status.
To the other Episcopalians in our Diocese, we your Bishops ask you to join with us in conveying messages of hope and support to our Salvadoran neighbors, brothers and sisters, and to work for a just immigration policy that allows families to stay together.
Attached to this letter are resources that give more information about TPS and about actions that we can take in response to this threat to our friends. Please read and share them as we strive to be obedient to God’s claim on our lives.
The Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston
The Rt. Rev. Susan E. Goff