Bethany Joins Evangelical Anti-Trafficking, Humanitarian and Denominational Organizations in Petitioning for the Protection of Vulnerable Children

August 24, 2020

GRAND RAPIDS, MI - Today, Bethany Christian Services and leaders from 15 other evangelical institutions sent a letter to Ivanka Trump, Advisor to the President of the United States and outspoken anti-human trafficking advocate, urging the restoration of protections for vulnerable unaccompanied children by upholding the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA).

Since March 20, the protections the TVPRA affords children seeking safety in the U.S. have been suspended. Unaccompanied children have not been given due process, undergone human trafficking screenings, or been transferred to the custody of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as the TVPRA requires. Instead, unaccompanied children have been expelled to their country of origin without any regard for their safety, often after unregulated hotel stays for many days in the U.S.

“Motivated and guided by our faith, we at Bethany are committed to protecting children and speaking out when their safety is threatened,” said Chris Palusky, president and CEO of Bethany. “We provide temporary foster homes and support for those the TVPRA was designed to protect – children and youth who have been victims of violence, trafficked, or have watched family members be murdered before their eyes. To summarily return these children back into the arms of those who wish to harm them under the guise of protecting Americans from COVID-19 is a violation of our own laws and a stain on the conscience of our nation.”

The letter points out that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – the agency responsible for carrying out the suspension of the TVPRA – is “a law enforcement agency without the specialized training necessary to care for children” while HHS “manages a network of care providers, including many faith-based non-profit organizations, to provide temporary care for these vulnerable children until a family member or other sponsor can be identified, screened and approved.”

“We have the resources, capacity, and infrastructure in place to keep these children safe and protected,” Palusky continued. “Let us protect vulnerable children; we’re ready to serve.”

Despite recent reports that unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border are receiving COVID-19 tests, most are still being expelled – even after a negative test result.

Palusky joined other leaders from World Relief, International Justice Mission, World Vision U.S., the Faith Alliance Against Slavery and Trafficking, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the National Latino Evangelical Coalition and more in petitioning Ivanka Trump to protect vulnerable unaccompanied children during the pandemic.

The letter to Ivanka Trump can be read in full, here. To learn more about Bethany’s work with unaccompanied children,

About Bethany Bethany is an international Christian nonprofit changing the world through family. 75 years ago, we began our work by serving one child. Today, we partner with churches and communities in more than 30 states and nearly a dozen countries to strengthen and preserve families, support refugees and immigrants fleeing danger, and find safe, loving families for children who need them. Bethany demonstrates the love and compassion of Jesus, impacting hundreds of thousands of lives every year, because we believe everyone deserves to be safe, loved, and connected.