Ins Reconsiders Asylum

The federal government, after a decade of efforts to deport undocumented Salvadorian and Guatemalan immigrants, has agreed to stop the deportations and adopt new procedures for granting political asylum. The agreement comes as settlement to a five-year-old class-action lawsuit brought by 80 religious and refugee organizations involved in the sanctuary movement. Known as the American Baptist Churches case, it accused the goverment of discrimination and violation of the U.S. Refugee Act of 1980, which bars ideological considerations in granting asylum. According to the suit, authorities routinely denied the asylum applications of refugees from El Salvador and Guatemala.

Marc Van Der Hout, lead lawyer for the plaintiffs, told the Religious News Service the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) will readjudicate all the cases of political asylum that have been denied over the past year. The agreement is expected to cover an estimated 500,000 illegal aliens from El Salvador and Guatemala.

In Or Out?

As a December deadline came and went, six Presbyterian congregations had decided to remain in the Presbyterian Church (USA) (PCUSA), while six had chosen to leave. The votes were taken under provisions contained in the agreement governing the 1983 merger that created the PCUSA, which allowed congregations in the “southern” branch to withdraw with their property from the new denomination. Twelve more congregations were still in the decision-making process as the deadline passed.

Among the largest congregations to consider withdrawal, Highland Park Presbyterian in Dallas voted to stay in the PCUSA. Those voting to withdraw include Forest Hill Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North ...

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