Evangelicals Respond to Presidential Announcement on Refugee Resettlement
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, President Joe Biden signed an executive order that serves as a first step toward restoring U.S. leadership in refugee resettlement. The leaders of the Evangelical Immigration Table are encouraged by this step, while continuing to urge the president to follow through on his commitment to raise the refugee ceiling and to reinvigorate the refugee resettlement program.
Since the Refugee Act was signed into law in 1980, more than 3 million refugees have been resettled to the U.S. Faith-based organizations, including many local evangelical churches, have long been vital partners in welcoming newly arrived refugees to communities throughout the United States and assisting them in the process of integration.
Among those harmed as the U.S. has reduced refugee resettlement — from more than 96,000 refugees resettled in 2016 to fewer than 10,000 in 2020 — are individuals who have fled persecution as a result of their faith, as well as those persecuted for their political opinions, race and other reasons enumerated in U.S. law. Evangelical Christians, motivated by biblical commands to love our neighbors, to care for the vulnerable and to practice hospitality, have voiced their concerns with reductions to refugee resettlement, and we now celebrate the administration’s expressed intention to rebuild the refugee resettlement program.
Despite this positive step, the administration has yet to raise the refugee ceiling for fiscal year 2021, which remains at a historically low level of 15,000. The Evangelical Immigration Table continues to urge the administration to restore the refugee ceiling to at least a historically normal level, while also immediately ramping up overseas processing and rebuilding the refugee resettlement infrastructure within the U.S.
The following are quotes from individual leaders of evangelical organizations:
Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief:
“World Relief offices around the country are eager to expand and welcome those who have fled their homes in pursuit of a better, safer future. It is imperative that we come together in recognition that this is not a partisan issue; it’s a belief issue. It’s a matter of loving our neighbors as Scripture commands.”
Russell Moore, President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:
“Our advocacy for religious minorities in peril around the world, whether they be Uyghurs in China or Christians in Syria, is a priority of our work at the ERLC. Now is the time to rebuild America’s refugee resettlement program, and I appreciate these initial steps taken by President Biden. I urge the administration to take the next step and officially raise the refugee ceiling. It is my prayer that Christians will lead the revitalization of America’s commitment to be a beacon of freedom and safe harbor for the oppressed and persecuted.”
Chris Palusky, President & CEO, Bethany Christian Services:
“This order signals the beginning of actions to restore and strengthen America’s historic commitment to resettling vulnerable people who were forced to flee their homes and countries. Jesus teaches Christians to care for the overlooked and the ignored, love our neighbor, and welcome the stranger. At Bethany, we live out this teaching by demonstrating the love and compassion of Jesus to vulnerable children and families.”
Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition:
“President Biden’s Executive Order is an initial step to restoring our nation’s historic commitment to welcoming refugees and asylum seekers. As followers of Jesus, for us, this is not a partisan issue but our Gospel pursuit to welcome vulnerable families and communities. While we celebrate these initial signs, we urge prompt action that returns to our historical levels of receiving refugees.”
The Evangelical Immigration Table is a broad coalition of evangelical organizations and leaders advocating for immigration reform consistent with biblical values.