Before President Trump consults Congress and formally signs a declaration, some evangelical Christian leaders are asking that they raise the cap significantly so that it reflects both the historical norm and the current record-high number of refugees worldwide.
They say that further cuts to the refugee resettlement program would harm religious freedom internationally and continue to shut out refugees of all backgrounds, including persecuted Christians and other religious minorities.
The announced new cap is even lower than this year’s historic low of 45,000 for this FY 2018, and the U.S. is on track to take in fewer than 22,000 refugees this fiscal year, also a record low.
The following are quotes from Evangelical Immigration Table leaders:
Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief:
“A cap of 30,000 jeopardizes the safety of future refugees, including persecuted Christians, who will no longer be able to find refuge in the U.S. It also does not reflect the actual capacity or willingness of Americans to receive and resettle refugees. This decision contradicts the administration’s declared commitment to helping persecuted Christian and religious minorities in dangerous and oppressive countries. Evangelicals should be concerned by this assault against our call to support ‘the least of these.’”
Galen Carey, Vice President, Government Relations, National Association of Evangelicals:
“Since the passage of the Refugee Act of 1980, the United States has resettled more than 3 million refugees, an average of over 80,000 per year. Over this time, our GDP in real dollars has nearly tripled, while the number of refugees forced to flee their countries has also tripled to more than 25 million. The United States has led the world in providing opportunities for the world’s most vulnerable refugees to rebuild their lives in safety and peace. And yet, for 2019 the State Department has proposed to resettle only 30,000 refugees, a drastic reduction from our historic norm across Republican and Democratic administrations. We can do much better than this. We call on President Trump to approve a refugee admissions target of at least 75,000 for 2019.”
Shirley V. Hoogstra, President, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities:
“Students and faculty in many Christian college and university communities, along with their local churches, have been deeply invested in welcoming refugees and helping them to integrate into local communities for many years. Now, though, the number of refugees admitted nationally is down roughly 75 percent from what it was just two years ago, and this week’s proposal to further reduce the refugee ceiling means arrivals will likely decline even further. Throughout the country, there are many eager to apply our Christian faith by welcoming those who have been forced to flee persecution. I urge our government to return the refugee ceiling to a level consistent with past administrations.”
Jo Anne Lyon, Ambassador and General Superintendent Emerita, The Wesleyan Church:
“The administration has made some laudable efforts to highlight the importance of protecting religious freedom internationally. But this proposed dramatic cut to the U.S. refugee resettlement program — which over the past four decades has provided safety, religious freedom and a new start to hundreds of thousands of persecuted Christians forced to flee their home countries — undermines our national credibility on questions of religious freedom. It’s not too late for President Trump to change course and sign a presidential determination for a refugee ceiling closer to the historical norm, such as 75,000, which would mean hope for thousands of persecuted people throughout our world.”
Russell Moore, President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:
“Seeing yet another drop in refugee numbers should be a shock to the conscience of all Americans. One day we will be ashamed that we as a nation turned inward, and away from our great tradition of serving as a beacon of liberty to those fleeing for their lives. 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.”
Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:
“America has long been a beacon of freedom and safety for those fleeing persecution, including many persecuted for their Christian faith, but the proposed cap of just 30,000 refugees would mean stepping back from our historic role of global leadership. We can both be a secure nation and a compassionate nation, leading the world in resettling the most vulnerable refugees who have been identified and vetted abroad and ensuring due process for those who reach our country to request asylum.”