Faith Leaders Outraged by Reports Trump Administration May End Life-Saving Refugee Resettlement Program

Interfaith Immigration Coalition
Posted Jul 19, 2019

Some Trump administration officials have proposed to resettle zero refugees in the United States in Fiscal Year 2020, devastating thousands of individuals who had been waiting for their chance at safety and family reunification. This cruel, unconscionable move would end the U.S. refugee resettlement program entirely and violate our religious and moral values as well as international treaties.

Over the past two years, the Trump administration has cut the resettlement program by an alarming 75%, setting the refugee admissions goal for FY 2019 at 30,000 – the lowest in U.S. history. The average goal since the creation of the program has been 95,000.

Now, the administration is considering a complete end to the program. If anti-family, anti-refugee voices in the White House get their way, ZERO refugees would be resettled in the United States in FY 2020.

Also this week, the State Department held a forum on religious freedom and is expected to announce the creation of a new International Religious Freedom Alliance. Meanwhile, as the International Rescue Committee pointed out, the Trump administration’s decimation of the refugee resettlement program has already led to a 97% drop in the number of Iranian Christians offered safety in the United States, and a similarly precipitous decline in the number of Iraqi Christians, Iraqi and Syrian Yezidis, and Rohingya Muslims who have found gotten a second chance at life, in the United States.

Said Katie Adams, Domestic Policy Advocate for the United Church of Christ and Co-Chair of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition (IIC): “The hypocrisy of this administration–proclaiming a desire to do more to support religious freedom, while closing the doors on refugees persecuted for their religious beliefs–is breathtaking. This comes at a time when the worldwide refugee crisis as at its greatest ever. Across the globe, over 70 million people have been forced from their homes, including more than 25 million refugees–half of whom are children. As a powerful nation, the United States should be doing more, not less, to provide a safe home to world’s persecuted and vulnerable.”

“Is U.S. not becoming a partner in the very crimes that drove out these human beings and made them refugees in the first place?” said Jagdeep Singh CEO of UNITED SIKHS. “Coming out with such a draconian policy would have been unthinkable in this country a few years ago. If implemented, ending refugee resettlement will be a dark episode in the history of the United States, its values and a reflection squarely on President Trump. This will create unimaginably dangerous conditions for those fleeing persecution, and especially for those who have nowhere else to go but U.S. because it is the closest country to which they can escape.”

This also comes at the same time the Trump administration is systematically gutting the asylum system. “Together, this amounts to an all-out assault on refugees fleeing violence and persecution in all forms. There’s no denying it” said Faith Williams, Senior Manager for Government Relations at the National Council of Jewish Women and IIC co-chair. “What a sad day for the United States. After we promised to ‘Never Again’ turn our backs on the world’s persecuted people, the President is doing so unilaterally. We Americans are outraged; Congress must step in.”

“If we are no longer a nation that provides refuge to the most vulnerable, then America as the shining city on a hill has lost much of its luster,” said CWS President and CEO, Rev. John L. McCullough. “Shutting down the resettlement program would be unfathomably cruel and dangerous. It would harm U.S. national security, foreign policy, local economies and our global standing. We will have failed in our promise to protect the most at-risk refugees including religious minorities and Iraqis who served alongside our military and others. We pray that Congress will hold the administration accountable to doing what is right and just: ensure this program remains standing for years to come.”

“The Christian Reformed Church has a long and meaningful history with the refugee resettlement program in the United States,” said Dr. Steven Timmermans, Executive Director of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. “Because of this life-saving program, refugee families have become an integral part of our churches and changed the identity of our denomination for the better. Ending U.S. refugee resettlement entirely for FY2020 would be a devastating blow to our churches, organizational partners, communities, and national identity.”

“This is a shameful loss to the soul of our nation. Few programs in US history have demonstrated more solid bi-partisan congressional support, and more vigorous congregational support, than refugee resettlement. To offer hospitality doesn’t just give life-saving hope to children and adults fleeing horrific conditions. It renews our congregations, strengthens our communities, supports our international partners, and gives us right-before-our-eyes ways to live out God’s repeated call to ‘welcome the stranger’ and remember our spiritual ancestors ‘were sojourners in Egypt,’” said Rev. Dr. Sharon Stanley-Rea, Director, Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries.

“It is wrong for the Trump Administration to close our refugee program for people fleeing persecution and terror,” said Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice. ”Our faith calls us to welcome the stranger and our nation’s history teaches that we are a haven for those persecuted in our world. The Administration’s action upends the law of our land that provides a right for people seeking asylum. We, people of faith, will not stand by while the Administration willfully sins in this manner. We call for their immediate repentance, conversion of heart, and a return to our tradition of caring for our most vulnerable sisters and brothers.”

“Historically, the United States has been a global leader in resettling refugees. However, today the number of refugees resettled in the United States is at an appalling historic low,” said the Rev. Jimmie Hawkins director of the Presbyterian Office of Public Witness. “The Presbyterian Church (USA) has supported refugee resettlement efforts since the post-World War II refugee crisis. We believe that all Christians are called by God to love, care for and provide hospitality to refugees. As a result, we condemn the current administration’s unjust and inhumane attack on refugees and urge the U.S. Congress to commit to protecting refugees in 2020.”

“The United States has a rich history as a leader in refugee resettlement, with significant precedent, including after World War II and after the fall of Saigon, when we resettled hundreds of thousands of refugees,” said Susan Gunn, director of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. “Our nation has the most rigorous refugee screening process in the world and should keep the U.S. Refugee Resettlement program open and robust. All of society benefits when we welcome newcomers and help each other thrive. This is not only in the best interest of our country but also in accordance with our faith tradition which calls us to welcome the stranger, love our neighbor, and stand with the vulnerable, regardless of their religion or country of origin.”

“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.”

Lawrence E. Couch, director of the National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd said: “Almost universally, when people look up to the heavens, an inner peace and sense of awe envelopes us. Most people also feel closer to one another, united as citizens of Planet Earth and members of God’s creation. I pray that President Trump will spend some time looking at the stars and planets and then look around at his actions and its effects on his fellow human beings. In the meantime, I call on Congress to put a halt to these thoughtless and cowardly actions and instead increase the number of refugees we welcome.”

“Tragically, the United States is proposing that we close our doors completely to refugees seeking safety and stability from war-torn and devastated countries the world over,” said Diane Randall, executive secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation. “As Quakers, we have an obligation to love thy neighbor. It is fundamental to who we are. Shunning refugees – people in desperate need – is the antithesis of our core beliefs, as well as America’s. We strongly urge the Administration to reconsider.”
“Who are we even, if we refuse to provide a place of refuge for those who need it? Our lives and those around us are indelibly linked. Extending mercy and compassion to refugees is extending mercy and compassion to ourselves. Rejecting refugees and completely decimating the resettlement program is unthinkably cruel,” said Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer; General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ.

Press Release available here on the Interfaith Immigration Coalition website.