Evangelical Leaders Express Deep Concern about Refugee Ceiling
Evangelical Leaders Express Deep Concern about Refugee Ceiling
Evangelical Christian leaders call on the Trump administration to restore the U.S. refugee resettlement program.
As evangelicals, we believe in the God-given dignity of every person in every nation. We also believe God calls us to love the foreigner and the stranger. Today, that means loving the refugee in our country who has fled violence and persecution in their own country.
We are then deeply concerned over the current state of our country’s refugee policy. The United States has long been a global leader in resettlement for those fleeing violence and persecution. Since the 1980 Refugee Act, our country has resettled over 3 million refugees. In recent years, however, the United States has not lived up to its ideals as the number of refugees welcomed into our country has plummeted due to policies that diminished the resettlement process.
Just before midnight on September 30, the State Department released their Report to Congress on the Proposed Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2021, recommending that the U.S. resettle 15,000 refugees in Fiscal Year 2021. The White House has a statutory responsibility to consult with Congress and sign a Presidential Determination by September 30 but failed on both accounts. We are calling for these obligations to be met so refugee resettlement can resume.
The proposed refugee admissions ceiling of 15,000 is the lowest number the United States has ever seen since the start of the refugee resettlement program in 1980. This historic low will leave families separated and many refugees in precarious situations across the world, including the Sayhoons, a Pakistani Christian couple waiting to reunite. Mrs. Sayhoon fled Pakistan in 2012 when her husband, who ran a blog that told stories of fellow persecuted Pakistani Christians, sent her to Sri Lanka with the little money they had. Because of the U.S. refugee resettlement program, she resettled to the U.S. through World Relief. But her husband continues to fear for his safety in a Sri Lankan refugee camp, waiting for his resettlement application to be approved.
Refugees flee their homes due to well-founded fears of persecution based on race, religion, or nationality. Resettlement is the last resort for refugees seeking safety. The Covid-19 pandemic only exacerbates what was already a historically significant refugee crisis. In such trying times, now is not the time to retreat from the world. With our vast resources, the support of local churches, and the already rigorous processes in place to fully vet and screen refugees for national security and medical purposes, our country has the ability to welcome refugees that will contribute to the flourishing of our national story. If we ignore the vulnerable and the persecuted, millions will be left to suffer, both abroad as they languish in danger and at home as we miss their contributions.
The United States cannot ignore the needs of displaced people around the world. We urge the Administration to return the refugee resettlement limit to historical levels so America can continue to be the beacon of liberty for all.
The following are quotes from Evangelical Immigration Table leaders:
Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief
“The administration’s failure to observe its legal obligation to consult with Congress and set a refugee ceiling before the beginning of a new fiscal year is deeply concerning. The White House has made explicit promises to protect persecuted Christians abroad. Sadly, we have not seen these promises honored through a robust U.S. refugee resettlement program that has been a lifeline of protection for persecuted Christians. Instead, we’ve seen the resettlement of refugees from countries known for persecution drop about 90% in some cases over the last four years. This is unconscionable. We urge the President to increase and sign the PD as soon as possible”
Shirley Hoogstra, President, Council for Christian Colleges & Universities:
“The United States has long welcomed people from around the world who are fleeing dangerous situations. Our faith calls us to care for those who are most vulnerable. Throughout the country, there are many eager to apply our Christian faith by welcoming those who have been forced to flee persecution. We urge this administration to refrain from setting the refugee ceiling at yet another historic low.”
Hyepin Im, President & CEO, Faith and Community Empowerment:
“Thousands of lives are hanging in the balance with many fleeing religious persecution, including Christians. The 80% reduction over the last four years and today’s announcement of further reduction is cruel and inconsistent with this Administration’s own statement and commitment to being a refuge for refugees. We call upon the Administration to choose what is right and choose life for the many lives who are waiting upon America to be their beacon of hope.”
Walter Kim, President, National Association of Evangelicals:
“Our country has served as a land of hope, security and opportunity for many who found little in their own places. The precipitous reduction of refugees undermines the symbol and substance of America’s stature as a land of liberty. As an expression of their faith, churches and Christian agencies are ready to welcome and assist these vulnerable people. In turn, refugees prove not to be a drain on our social resources, but sources of great vitality. We urge this administration to reverse this trend of reduction and to restore our historic commitments to justice, compassion and freedoms that have been such an inspiration throughout the world.”
Russell Moore, President, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:
“This drastic drop in refugee numbers should embarrass and dismay us, given the stakes. Our nation has a great tradition as a beacon of liberty to those fleeing for their lives from terror and tyranny. Persecuted Christians, and others, will be harmed by this closed door. Obviously, we cannot take in unlimited numbers of refugees, but the dwindling number of those we do take is far below the level where America could and should be in leading the world in compassion for those in peril. As Christians, we should stand up for our brothers and sisters in Christ in the persecuted church, and for our other neighbors who are likewise in harm’s way.”
Chris Palusky, President & CEO, Bethany Christian Services:
“The State Department’s midnight recommendation that the U.S. resettle 15,000 refugees is too little, too late. Refugee resettlement remains on hold until the President consults with Congress and signs the Presidential Determination. Last year, this process wasn’t complete until November, leaving thousands of refugees in precarious situations. I am also disappointed that this recommendation is the lowest in American history, adding more vulnerability and fear for so many children and families who are fleeing persecution or violence overseas. We have the ability to reunify families, protect people from persecution, and alleviate suffering for so many lives.”
Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition:
“As Christians who know well the realities of refugees who oftentimes are fleeing political violence, religious persecution and life-threatening disasters we are concerned that the ceiling to receive refugees is at historic low rates. We urge the Administration to resume and strengthen the refugee program in a timely manner. Our nation should work towards keeping families from precarious situations so they do not lose an opportunity to resettle safely. Our nation has a long history of doing this and we can continue to be a beacon of hope for refugees.”