Today, Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, White House Coordinator for Operation Allies Welcome Jack Markell, and staff from the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships met with a diverse group of faith leaders who are welcoming and helping relocate Afghan evacuees across the country. These Afghans include people who worked as staff of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and their families, those who served as translators and interpreters for our government, and other Afghans at risk, including members of persecuted faiths, human rights defenders, journalists, and women and girls.
The religious leaders described steps they are taking to encourage their congregations and communities to get involved in this effort, such as by providing donations or volunteer support for refugee resettlement agencies—many of which are faith-based—and by contacting their state and local representatives to encourage them to welcome Afghan arrivals. They shared personal stories about meeting the new arrivals, as well as details of how the faith community is organizing to receive them in both single-faith and multi-faith initiatives. Clergy stressed the need to recognize that we are all connected and that everyone should be treated with dignity and respect. They also noted that this effort provides an opportunity for Americans to come together across our differences and offer a compassionate response.
Administration officials highlighted President Biden’s commitment to ensuring not just a whole-of-government effort, but a whole-of-America effort, through the recent appointment of Operation Allies Welcome White House Coordinator, Governor Jack Markell. Leaders also discussed the recent launch of the new Welcome.US website, a hub for organizations, private sector companies, and Americans who are eager to welcome Afghans and offer support. The religious leaders offered suggestions for new ways to collaborate and expand engagement on this effort.
Administration officials expressed deep gratitude for the work and voices of these congregational leaders, noting that the faith community has long been at the forefront of efforts to welcome refugees, asylees, and other newcomers. The group pledged to collaborate further on the shared aim of welcoming Afghan arrivals and helping them to thrive here in the United States.
Meeting participants included:
- Rabbi Sharon Brous, IKAR
- The Rev. Anne E. Derse, St. John’s Norwood Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Diocese of Washington
- Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- Archbishop José Gomez, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- Bishop E. Anne Henning-Byfield, African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church
- The Rev. Walter Kim, National Association of Evangelicals
- Imam Mohamed Magid, All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS)
- Imam Zia Mahkdoom, MakeSpace
- Pastor Bob Roberts, Multi-Faith Neighbors Network and Northwood Church
- The Rev. Gabriel Salguero, The Gathering Place, National Latino Evangelical Coalition
- The Rev. Jeanette Salguero, The Gathering Place, National Latino Evangelical Coalition
- Bishop Keith Kershaw, Church of God in Christ (COGIC)
- Dr. Hema Kaue Sidhu, Guru Nanak Foundation of America
- Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton, Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church, National Council of Churches
- Lance Walker, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints