WASHINGTON, DC – Over 130 local, state, and national faith-based organizations are joining together to call on the Biden administration to designate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In a new letter led by the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), the faith organizations call for immediate action following the United Nations’ recent shocking report that more than 6.9 million Congolese people are currently displaced as a result of armed conflict, intense violence, and humanitarian crises.
“Our faith-based organizations and leaders strongly believe that the DRC clearly meets the statutory requirements for a TPS designation — which would extend much-needed grace to nationals from the DRC currently living in our communities and worshiping in our congregations,” the faith leaders wrote in a letter addressed to President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. They continued, “We firmly believe that a TPS designation brings our moral values in alignment with our laws. Across our diverse faith traditions, we are called by our sacred texts to the practices of welcoming the sojourner and acting in solidarity with the vulnerable. Not deporting people to harm at this juncture should be a moral imperative.”
Decades of tragedy in the DRC have already claimed more than 5 million lives, with widespread human rights abuses and war crimes. The UN has called the current situation in the DRC “one of the largest internal displacement and humanitarian crises in the world.”
“Temporary Protected Status is a life-saving tool that the administration has to use in situations just like this – where it would be grievously unsafe for a certain group of nationals to return to their country of origin,” said Anna Marie Gallagher, CLINIC executive director. “The situation facing citizens of the DRC is dire, and it is our duty as people of faith and conscience to allow those already in the United States to remain here in safety. We urge the administration to make this decision without delay.”
“Amid the severe humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which has led to the displacement of over 6 million people due to armed conflicts and natural disasters, there exists a moral imperative for the U.S. government to protect our Congolese brothers and sisters residing in the United States,” said Nils Kinuani, Immigration Department Coordinator and Board Director for the Congolese Community of Washington Metropolitan (CCWM). “Designating Temporary Protected Status for the DRC is a crucial step that can save lives and fortify our community."
“Thank you to the faith leaders and organizations that have taken the bold stance as advocates for our Congolese community members in the United States. DRC cannot afford any further delay in receiving a TPS designation,” said Diana Konatè National Policy Director, African Communities Together (ACT). “We will continue to push the administration to use TPS as a way to protect Congolese living in the U.S. by designating the DRC immediately.”
"I am a survivor; I was forced to flee my home country to save my life,” said Yves Kaduli, Community Organizer. “How could I stay when I was threatened with kidnapping and torture because of my opposition against the regime of Kinshasa? The atrocities, life threats, and war have impacted the lives of all of us for decades, and now, the situation is getting worse. The Biden administration must stand and protect Congolese who can not return safely to DRC, and designate Temporary Protected Status. Let's continue to raise our voices for those who are persecuted and vulnerable, so that thousands may be protected.”
CLINIC joins a coalition of organizations, including faith, immigration, and human rights groups, as well as Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, Senator Cory Booker, and 52 of their colleagues in the U.S. Congress, in calling on the Biden administration to utilize TPS to protect nationals of the DRC without delay. Congolese Community of Washington Metropolitan (CCWM) and African Communities Together (ACT) among many others have been advocating for this designation for over one year, in light of the armed conflict, catastrophic levels of violence, displacement, and death unfolding in the country, making it impossible for nationals to return to the DRC safely. Designating the DRC for TPS would keep families and individuals safe and together, and provide protection from deportation and work authorization to our Congolese community members. The Biden administration should build on their successful use of the TPS tool and designate the DRC for TPS.