Evangelical Leaders Urge Trump Administration To Admit More Refugees
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Further cuts to the U.S. refugee resettlement program would harm religious freedom internationally, local pastors and national leaders said on a press call today.
The Trump administration is expected to maintain or lower the refugee cap from this year’s historic low of 45,000, despite the record-high number of refugees worldwide. No matter the cap, the U.S. is on track to take in a record-low 22,000 refugees this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.
Refugees of all backgrounds, including Christians and other religious minorities fleeing persecution for their faith, have been shut out.
National leaders from the Evangelical Immigration Table sent a letter in August asking the Trump administration to admit more refugees, citing religious liberty and our history of offering safe haven to people fleeing religious persecution. Grassroots leaders have since joined them; more than 400 local pastors and lay leaders have signed on to the letter.
The following are quotes from speakers on today’s call:
Nathan Bult, Director of Government Affairs, Bethany Christian Services:
“At Bethany Christian Services, we know that refugee resettlement saves lives, and that is why we are deeply concerned about the decline in refugee admissions. Every refugee has a name, every refugee has a story, and every refugee matters to God — that means every refugee should matter to us. As persecution of religious and ethnic minorities escalates around the world, Bethany remains committed to welcoming refugees just like Jesus has called us to.”
Galen Carey, Vice President of Government Relations, National Association of Evangelicals:
“Over the past 40 years, American evangelical Christians have opened their hearts and homes to hundreds of thousands of refugees, including many persecuted believers who would otherwise not be alive today. This extraordinary ministry of mercy has nearly ground to a halt as the sharp reduction in refugee resettlement approvals has left tens of thousands of refugees stranded in dangerous refugee camps and settlements. We can and must do much better than this. We ask President Trump to allow at least 75,000 refugees to resettle in the United States in the coming year.”
Eric Costanzo, Senior Pastor, South Tulsa Baptist Church, Tulsa, Oklahoma:
“At a time when the needs of the world’s most vulnerable are the greatest, we are in danger of welcoming fewer children, women and men than ever in our refugee resettlement program’s history, including after 9/11. The program has nearly been ground to a halt, and its infrastructure for the future is evaporating. As American evangelical Christians, living in a country with unmatched wealth and extravagance, I believe we must absolutely ask ourselves how God would have us respond on behalf of people made in His image during the worst refugee crisis the world has ever seen. We are praying that the current administration and our elected officials will listen to those of us who work with refugees personally, and restore responsible vitality to our resettlement program.”
Patrick Vaughn, Assistant Pastor, Christ Church East Bay, Oakland, California:
“As an evangelical pastor, I believe hospitality toward refugees reflects the heart of God. As followers of Jesus and as Americans, I believe the Church has extensive resources for welcoming refugees. It is my sincere hope, along with other evangelical Christians, that as a country we will be courageous by sharing our resources by welcoming refugees into the freedom and security that our country has to offer to refugees.”
Jenny Yang, Senior Vice President of Advocacy and Policy, World Relief:
“The drastic decline in refugee resettlement over the past couple years has meant that far fewer persecuted people, including those persecuted for their Christian faith, have been able to find safety and religious freedom in the U.S. A further cut to the ceiling for refugee resettlement would harm even more people persecuted for their faith. We’re praying that President Trump will set the ceiling back at 75,000, and World Relief and our many partner churches, along with other resettlement organizations, stand ready to welcome them.”