Ahlam Al Khaled, a health and nutrition educator for International Orthodox Christian Charities, walks with children in a settlement of Syrian refugees in Minyara, a village in the Akkar district of northern Lebanon. Lebanon hosts some 1.5 million refugees from Syria, yet allows no large camps to be — Paul Jeffrey/ACT


We hear the words refugee and asylum seeker used interchangeably, but these words apply to different stages of the immigration process. Refugees are individuals who are outside their home country afraid of likely persecution of death if sent back to that country because of their religion, race, nationality, political opinion or membership in a social group, and whose government is unwilling or unable to protect them. Asylum seekers are refugees who are asking a government to recognize them as a refugee and the government has yet to make a decision. Regardless of their specific status, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) is responsible for coordinating the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) humanitarian response to and advocacy on behalf of refugees, asylum seekers and other forced migrants.

Click here for information about Families, Children and the U.S./Mexico Border


What We Do

Refugee Resettlement

Asylum Seekers

Resources/ Education

World Refugee Day

We Choose Welcome signs


How you can help


What We Do

PDA partners with Mid Councils and Congregations

  1. Information and Referral
    • PDA connects Presbyterians to non-profit organizations in the U.S. serving refugees and asylum seekers. PDA guides Presbyterians regarding locations of refugee resettlement, how churches can help, and how the U.S. refugee and immigration system works.
  2. Educational and Worship Resources
    • PDA creates and shares educational resources for congregational use.
  3. Refugee Ministry Consultation and Guidance
    • PDA provides technical assistance and guidance through individual phone consultations, conference calls or webinars, and face-to-face local and regional gatherings.
  4. Ministries of Presence
    • PDA, along with members of the National Response Team (NRT) offers technical, emotional and spiritual support to local ministries and their volunteers.
  5. Financial Support
    • PDA supports local congregations and task forces through mid councils who may request an initial grant to assist in responding to a new or emergency refugee situation. Special project grants are also available for longer-term responses.

PDA parters with national offices:

  • Office of Public Witness and the Office of Immigration Issues
    • PDA works with the PC(USA) office of Public Witness and the Office of Immigration Issues to advance just and compassionate U.S. policies toward refugees and other forced migrants.
  • Church World Service Immigration & Refugee Program (CWS)
    • Since 1947, the PC(USA) has supported refugee resettlement through CWS. CWS is one of nine national, non-governmental organizations with a network of local offices to receive newly arriving refugees and provide at least three months of services.
  • Lutheran Immigration & Refugee Service (LIRS)
    • For over 20 years, PDA has worked with LIRS to develop new ministry models and promote interdisciplinary collaboration among organizations serving asylum seekers and vulnerable immigrants. In 2015, PDA and LIRS produced a short documentary, Locked in a Box, to highlight the plight of immigrants in U.S. detention.

PDA is a two-fold ministry:

  • relief and response to national and international disasters; and
  • aid to refugees and displaced persons, including resettlement.

Outside the U.S., PDA supports refugees through mission and ecumenical partners following the same protocol that guides other disaster response efforts. For information on international responses, click here


Refugee Resettlement

Resettlement refers to situations in which refugees, having already fled their country of origin to a second country, are formally—and often permanently—relocated to a third country. Historically, the U.S. has hosted the largest number of resettled refugees. Since 2017, however, the U.S. Government has steadily closed down the resettlement program and is expected to resettle fewer than 9,000 refugees in FY2020.

Asylum Seekers

Guidance Considerations for Asylum Accompaniment Ministry Teams with Compañerx in a COVID-19 Environment

PDA has received numerous inquiries from individuals and congregations asking how they can be involved in supporting refugees and asylum seekers. Some choose to work with organizations on the border, providing in-person volunteer support, while others may choose to become more involved in service to those resettled in their local area.


Trailer for "Locked in a Box" from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance on Vimeo.


Genesis of Exodus - trailer from Office of the General Assembly on Vimeo.


To learn more about what refugees face and how you can help, please visit the links below.

World Refugee Day

World Refugee Day, first declared by the United Nations  in 2000, is June 20th every year.

We Choose Welcome signs

PDA partnered with other PC(USA) offices to introduce a We Choose Welcome awareness campaign; the project promotes refugee support by providing multi-language yard signs and other resources to help your congregation build and deepen relationships with refugees in your community.

Click here to download the yard signs and advocacy resources.


“Our asylum law states that asylum-seekers may ask for protection regardless of status or the nature of the entry into the U.S. A nation’s asylum laws are only meaningful if they are honored in times of crisis. The U.S. is not honoring it’s promises to the world.”

Tips for meeting with your Members of Congress online or via conference call

Contact your Senator and Representatives about what they are doing to oppose the criminalization of immigration and to protect the asylum process. Restoring the nation’s humanitarian commitment to refugee resettlement means recognizing that funding agencies responsible for immigration and enforcement is only half the solution. As a country we need to acknowledge that refugees and asylum seekers require appropriate legal support and ongoing humanitarian assistance to successfully assimilate into their new lives inside the U.S. Cutting funding to people in need ignores our moral obligation to help. CLICK HERE.

Call House and Senate Judiciary Committee Members Today!

*Please call the Senators and Representatives from your state

Sample Script: “I’m your constituent from [CITY/TOWN], and I urge you to protect the refugee resettlement program from another drastic cut by the administration. The administration is considering setting the refugee admissions goal at 25,000 for next year, which would be a new all-time low. As a member of the Judiciary Committee, you are uniquely poised to ensure that the administration fulfills its obligation to consult with Congress ahead of deciding how many refugees to welcome in FY19. Please do everything in your power to see that the administration commits to resettling at least 75,000 refugees in 2019. Resettlement is a core American legacy that allows refugees to rebuild their lives. My community welcomes refugees, and I urge you to reflect the best of our nation by supporting refugee resettlement.”


How You Can Help


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