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Congressman Tom Garrett

Representing the 5th District of Virginia

Congressman Garrett Advocates for Human Rights, Secures Release of Religious Prisoners

September 25, 2017
Press Release

Washington, D.C- Last Tuesday, Congressman Tom Garrett (VA-05) secured United States Humanitarian Parole status for nine refugees persecuted for their Christian faith in their native home of Sudan. In 2015, Sudanese officials arrested two men on charges stemming from Christian mission work. They were pardoned of their 12 year prison sentences in the Spring of 2017, after Congressman Garrett met with Sudan’s Ambassador to the U.S. and wrote a letter to the Republic of the Sudan President requesting their release. The United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) vetted the individuals and investigated their case for urgent relief. USCIS found their condition critical and granted Humanitarian Parole in August. Since Rep. Garrett’s travel to Sudan last week, seven of the refugees have arrived in the United States, while two others await the final release of their exit visas.

The issue was originally brought to Garrett’s attention from constituents who had read about the plight of these pastors and asked for the Congressman to intervene.

As a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Rep. Garrett works to improve relationships with foreign nations in pursuit of peace and human rights. Rep. Garrett met with Sudanese executive branch members including Sudan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs to discuss the importance of religious freedom, the release of the Christian mission workers, and Sudan’s status with the United States.

Upon his return to the United States and release of the seven refugees, Rep. Garrett issued the following: 

“As a result of sanctions dating back to the nineties, Sudan is eager to distance itself from a dark past. Because of this, our demands for improvements in human rights have been effective. Saving lives is always worthwhile. You can pass a bill, you can like a bill, but you cannot have dinner with a bill, you can’t shake a bills hand, you can’t pray with a bill. As a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, I am grateful for the opportunity to push for the protection of human rights by nations across the globe, from China and Venezuela to Iran and North Korea. What we’ve done in Sudan is the tip of the iceberg.”

Rep. Garrett continues advocating for the release of the two pastors through engagements with Sudan’s embassy. All travel expenses for Congressman Garrett and the refugees were covered by charitable contributions and non-profits. No aspect of the mission cost American taxpayers.

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