Blessing Not Burden | March 06, 2017
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Monday morning, the Trump administration released a rewritten executive order on refugees and Muslims. The order will enact a 90-day suspension of all visas for nationals from six Muslim majority countries, halt refugee resettlement for 120-days, and lower the number of refugees the U.S. admits from 110,000 to 50,000 this year, the lowest goal in U.S. history.

The original order was released on January 27, but was not fully implemented because the legality is currently being challenged in court. The new version:

  • does not apply to legal permanent residents or visa holders,
  • removes language prioritizing and providing exceptions for religious minorities,
  • does not specify an “indefinite” ban on resettlement of Syrian refugees,
  • deletes Iraq from the list of targeted countries.

Why do we care?

God issues a call to his people: we are to welcome the stranger and defend the cause of the most vulnerable. The Christian Reformed Church has a long tradition of welcoming refugees into our communities and congregations. This order cripples this life-saving ministry — a ministry which has marked our church for five decades. We cannot remain idle; in the name of Jesus, we are called to welcome the stranger as if it is Christ himself.

Raise your voice!

The world is witnessing the greatest number of refugees in modern history. Reducing the number of refugees from 110,000 to 50,000 is a moral failure. The faith community has been central in assisting families adjust to their new homes in the U.S. This drastic decrease in the number of refugees we take in will inhibit the church’s ability to live faithfully into the call to welcome.

Congress must hear loud and clear that Christians around the U.S. oppose these actions. Urge Congress to speak boldly against this announcement and do everything in their power to see it reversed. Click the button below to take action!

Where are the majority of refugees resettled?  

For the majority of refugees, permanent resettlement to the U.S. is extremely unlikely. Less than 1% of the 21 million refugees today will ever be resettled anywhere. Most refugees are hosted in countries near their country of origin. Turkey is currently hosting about 2 million refugees from Syria. Lebanon is hosting 1 million, and Jordan is hosting another 600,000. Comparatively, the U.S. welcomed just over 10,000 Syrians, and Canada welcomed 25,000 in 2016. The US has been a leader in refugee resettlement for decades. We set the precedent. By reducing the number of refugees we take in, other countries my follow suit, leaving front-line countries to bear the weight of the crisis.


Do refugees threaten our safety?

Refugees are the most vetted individuals to enter the U.S. The U.S. resettlement security process is the lengthiest and most robust in the world, taking up to two years to complete. For each individual, the process involves eight different U.S. Federal Government Agencies, three in-person interviews, four biometric security checks, five separate background checks, among other security clearances. If a refugee does not provide the required documentation and proof, they will not be selected. Only the most vulnerable individuals are considered for resettlement and the United Nations assigns in which country they will resettled. The odds of an American being killed by a refugee are 1 in 3.6 billion.


How does the pause impact refugees?

Each step in the resettlement process is time sensitive and each step has a narrow, and different, validity period. Because these checks overlap, refugees often have less than a two-month window during which all of their security and other checks are valid and during which they are allowed to travel to the United States. Any delay in allowing a refugee to travel can cause a domino effect of expiring clearances that can send a refugee back to the beginning of the process waiting months and even years to go through multiple screenings all over again while their lives hang in the balance.


How does the Executive Order compromise ministry?

Six of the nine refugee resettlement agencies in the U.S. are faith based and one, Church World Service, is a CRC partner. These agencies work with local congregations, refugee families and the U.S. government to ensure that refugees are welcomed and that they gain independence. Partnering with resettlement services is an expression of our call to defend the cause of the oppressed and to welcome the stranger. The four month pause is problematic for resettlement agencies’ staff and financial infrastructure because of the interruption in their contract with the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement. This has already resulted in agencies closing offices and churches in those regions can no longer partner in the work. Additionally, lowering the number to 50,000 refugees reduces the number churches who will be able to partner in giving resettlement services.