Disciples News Service

Ecumenical group reacts to steep reduction in immigration limits

Note: The 2019 General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) addressed this issue in the form of an emergency resolution, GA 1935-Concerning Steep Reductions in Overall Refugee Resettlement Arrivals in the United States. 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 26, 2019

Contact: Lynn Tramonte | media@interfaithimmigration.org | 202-255-0551

Faith Communities Decry Death Blow to U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program

Link: http://bit.ly/18kRefugees

Washington, DC – This evening, reports surfaced that the President intends to propose a new record-low refugee admissions goal for Fiscal Year 2020 of 18,000, without even bothering to consult with Congress as the law requires. The proposal amounts to a refugee ban and is an affront to people fleeing danger worldwide. It is also a rejection of the values held by people of faith and conscience in the United States. Simultaneously, the President signed an  executive order that permits state and local officials to block resettlement in their communities, despite the hundreds of elected officials, congregations, and business leaders who have been expressing their strong support for refugee resettlement across all fifty states.

A refugee admissions goal of 18,000 amounts to a refugee ban, as it would further starve the resettlement infrastructure in the United States, destroy the vital support services that it took decades to build, and have disastrous consequences for the refugee families we have already resettled and await reunification with loved ones overseas.

Rev. John L. McCullough, President and CEO of Church World Service said: “With one final blow, the Trump administration has snuffed out Lady Liberty’s torch and ended our nation’s legacy of compassion and welcome. The darkness of this day will extend for years, if not decades, to come.

“This is nothing short of a refugee ban. Cutting America’s life-saving refugee program to such extreme lows is a terrible mistake that will put the lives of thousands of refugee families–the most desperate cases in the world–at dire risk. It will destroy the lives of former refugees in the United States who have been desperately waiting for their children, their parents, their most precious loved ones to arrive. It will destabilize key allies and destroy what is left of our nation’s moral example. It will annihilate the vital infrastructure and support services that the United States has taken decades to build.”

The administration also issued an executive order that attempts to allow individual states and localities to ban refugees from settling there. This is an unprecedented act to encourage discrimination by states and localities. There is a bipartisan tradition of welcoming refugees in this country, and faith leaders call on states and localities to maintain that welcome even in the face of such ugly nativism from the White House. The message this executive order sends is chilling and will take many voices, raised in unison, to combat the hate spewing from the Executive Branch.

“This announcement is a betrayal of both our American and Jewish values,” said Sheila Katz, NCJW CEO. “As Jews, we are taught va’ahavtem et ha-ger — as we were once strangers, so must we love the stranger. For 125 years, NCJW has worked to welcome refugees from across the globe fleeing violence and persecution. When our nation opens its doors, our families, communities, schools, and congregations thrive. We will not stand idly by while the administration denigrates our values, we will fight to ensure the safety and dignity for all refugees around the world.”

“The Trump administration’s refugee admissions goal is as disappointing as it is unsurprising for this administration and president,” said Giovana Oaxaca, Government Relations Associate, NETWORK Lobby. “We cannot stand idly by while the Trump administration shutters a spot of hope for refugees as an expression of their white Christian nationalism. Refugees and asylum seekers are people above all else.”

Rev. Terri Hord Owens, General Minister & President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) said: “Reducing U.S. resettlement numbers to less than one fifth of our nation’s historic average is a moral travesty and offense to the sacred and repeated calls of our scriptures to welcome the vulnerable. Consequences upon refugee families already approved and awaiting travel are cruel. In this moment, our hearts mourn for families seeking hope, and faith partners which have been a backbone of the bi-partisan, public-private partnerships that have sustained the U.S. refugee program will not stop voicing our belief in the benefits of refugees to our communities and congregations.  Today’s slammed door must be reopened, for the sake of our nation’s heritage of hospitality.”

General Secretary Susan Henry-Crowe of The United Methodist Church’s General Board of Church and Society said: “At a time when refugees worldwide are seeking safety and security, the decision to further restrict admissions is outrageous. The Bible tells us ‘show hospitality to strangers’ and people in need (Lev. 19:33-34; Matt. 25:35; Heb. 13:2). This action is antithetical to that command. The United Methodist Church has engaged in acts of welcome and refugee resettlement worldwide and will continue this witness, despite exclusionary policies. As United Methodists, we are called to welcome refugees in our communities and congregations.”

“In order to be ‘the most generous nation in the world when it comes to welcoming those in need of humanitarian protection,’ as the Administration claims, we would need to welcome in well more than the 18,000 they are proposing. The most generous nation in the world doesn’t cut its refugee number by nearly 85% during the highest displacement crisis in global history, ” explained Hannah Graf Evans, FCNL’s Legislative Representative for Immigration and Refugee Policy. “We are capable of much more. The blindness of this administration focused on building strength through isolation will only serve to weaken us. Our security is shared, our collective future tied to how we answer to ‘that of God’ within the refugee child.”

The Interfaith Immigration Coalition is made up of 53 national, faith-based organizations brought together across many theological traditions with a common call to seek just policies that lift up the God-given dignity of every individual. In partnership, we work to protect the rights, dignity, and safety of all refugees and migrants.

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Lynn Tramonte
cell 202.255.0551