Evangelical Leaders Implore President: ‘Reinvigorate the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program’

 In Press Releases

July 23, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today the Evangelical Immigration Table sent a letter urging President Trump to increase the refugee ceiling and protect persecuted Christians and other religious minorities.

Reports emerged last week that advisers to the president have recommended a refugee ceiling for fiscal year 2020 at or near zero, which would effectively end the longstanding U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program.

Leaders representing many of the largest evangelical denominations and institutions in the country are urging the president instead to set the refugee ceiling at 75,000 or higher, in line with historic norms. They note that the refugee resettlement program has long been a lifeline for persecuted religious minorities, including Christians from countries such as Iraq, Iran and Syria.

The number of Christian refugees allowed to the U.S. from these countries is down dramatically over the past few years, despite the president’s public commitment to facilitate the resettlement process for Syrian Christians.

The letter concludes, “We urge you to reinvigorate the U.S. refugee resettlement program, not dismantle it. It is a lifeline for those fleeing persecution — whether because of their faith, their political opinion, their ethnicity or any other reason outlined in U.S. law. We pray you will reject any advice to shut the refugee resettlement program down, and that your administration will not merely continue the program at its current, vastly reduced level. Instead, we ask that you allow our country to continue to be a beacon of safety and freedom for those fleeing persecution.”

The Evangelical Immigration Table invites evangelical Christians to add their name and plans to resend the letter with additional signatories in the coming days.

The following are quotes from signatories to the letter:

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals:

“The Bible is a book with many refugee stories from Genesis to Jesus. Just as the Bible includes refugees, we want America to include refugees. It’s the Christian thing to do.”

Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief:

“The world’s need is clear: With over 70 million displaced persons, including over 25 million refugees, we are in the middle of the worst refugee crisis in recorded history. Our national commitment to welcoming refugees goes back at least to the era of World War II, when Jewish men, women and children displaced by the Nazis often had no safe place to which to flee. In the years that followed, the U.S. committed itself to protecting those forced to flee persecution, offering safety and religious freedom to some of the world’s most vulnerable refugees, who have become grateful Americans — and who give back to this country many times over. We must not abandon this stabilizing role or those in desperate situations and in need of a safe haven.”

Shirley Hoogstra, President, Council for Christian Colleges & Universities:

“Like many evangelical Christians, I’ve personally had the privilege of being part of a church-based team that has welcomed and walked alongside a newly arrived refugee family. Many Christian college and university students have similarly transformative experiences serving as volunteers. These ministry and learning opportunities will be cut off if the administration decides to set the refugee ceiling at zero for the upcoming year. I pray the president will reject this counsel and instead restore the refugee ceiling back to at least 75,000 for fiscal year 2020.”

Hyepin Im, President & CEO, Faith and Community Empowerment:

“This past week has been a difficult week for many Americans, confronted with the racial divides that continue to plague our country. As we lament hurtful rhetoric, let us ensure that we also respond to draconian policy proposals — such as the termination of the refugee resettlement program — that would directly harm tens of thousands of people of color. The United States must not slam the door on refugees fleeing persecution. This must not happen on our watch.”

Jo Anne Lyon, Global Ambassador, The Wesleyan Church:

“In the midst of a global refugee crisis, when there are more refugees in our world than at any time in recorded history, it would be unconscionable for the United States to shut down its longstanding refugee resettlement program. Evangelicals must not sit silently as this lifesaving program is eliminated. I urge all Christians to speak up now, insisting that the refugee resettlement program be restored to at least historically normal levels, not terminated.”

Russell Moore, President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:

“The United States has long stood as a beacon of liberty to those fleeing for their lives. My prayer is this will never cease to be the case. Obviously, we cannot take in unlimited numbers of refugees, but the increasingly lower 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 a Christian, I am concerned for the well-being of all those in peril. And I stand in solidarity with my brothers and sisters in Christ in the persecuted church, many of whom will be harmed by this closed door.” 

Chris Palusky, President & CEO, Bethany Christian Services:

“America’s refugee resettlement program has a longstanding tradition of serving vulnerable families who are escaping religious persecution and violence, and we urge the administration to continue its support of this lifesaving program. It’s incredibly disappointing to hear that our nation’s refugee resettlement program could be shut down. Bethany has worked for years to demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ to refugees and to help them become thriving members of their community and our country. We won’t stop now.”

Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:

“I’m grateful for efforts to support religious freedom throughout the world. Until other countries are free of religious persecution, though, it is vital that the U.S. continue to welcome refugees who have been persecuted on account of their faith. As a nation, we must not turn our backs on the persecuted church.”


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