CLC staff: Perspective on refugee resettlement program changes

by Kathryn Freeman on January 30, 2017 in CLC

By Kathryn Freeman and Ferrell Foster

We are praying for President Trump and his administration as they are making many vital decisions that affect the lives of those here and abroad. We prayerfully request that President Trump reconsider the scope and effect of this order and work with congressional leadership to devise a solution that bolsters American security without causing unnecessary delays for refugees fleeing violence or disregarding traditional American values.

Here are our concerns regarding Section 5 of his Executive Order impacting refugee resettlement:

● The order places a 120-day moratorium on the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program and indefinitely excludes refugees from many of the world’s most vulnerable populations.

This action compounds a human tragedy and leaves far too many people in desperate circumstances and far too many families separated.

● Four months is an excessive time to verify or augment the already robust security and vetting processes in place for refugees entering the U.S.

● Any policy regarding refugees fleeing religious persecution should be made solely on the basis of persecution and not preferencing some religious groups over others.

● Any policy should be consistent with American ideals of religious liberty and the American tradition of welcoming families who come to the United States to start their lives again in safety and dignity.

● Scripture is replete with God’s commands to love, welcome, and seek justice for those in need. Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan — a man whom Jesus presents as the model of neighborly love when he provides assistance to a person of a different religious tradition — is our standard.

Some key facts:

First, the United States already has an extremely thorough and effective vetting process for refugees being considered for resettlement. That screening, which occurs entirely overseas and generally takes between 18 months and three years to complete, is coordinated by the U.S. departments of State, Homeland Security, and Defense, as well as the FBI and the National Counterterrorism Center.  Click here to see a guide to the refugee screening process

Second, only a very tiny percentage of the world’s refugees are even considered for resettlement to the U.S. Last year, less than one-half of one percent of the world’s refugees were brought to the U.S. and only after completing a thorough vetting process.

Third, the screening process is the most thorough process to which any category of visitor or immigrant to the United States is required to undergo — and it has a strong record. Since the Refugee Act was passed in 1980, not a single American life has been lost to a terrorist attack committed by someone who came to the U.S. through the refugee resettlement program, research by the Cato Institute has assessed the odds of an American being killed in any given year by a refugee-turned-terrorist at 1 in 3.64 billion.

Fourth, a significant share of refugees admitted to the U.S. from the Middle East — including 35 percent admitted from Middle Eastern countries over the past decade — have been Christians, and these persecuted believers, some of whom are facing what the U.S. State Department has labeled as genocide, will be shut out under the new policy. Christians and religious minorities are already a much higher percentage in the refugee population, as many as five times the number, over the percentage in the general population from the countries affected by this ban. Furthermore, we fear the new policy could unintentionally fuel extremist sentiments against Christians and other religious minorities within these regions.

Fifth, the change would bar those who face persecution because of their service alongside American troops and deserve our protection from being able to enter the country.

Texas Baptists is a movement of God’s people to share Christ and show love by strengthening churches and ministers, engaging culture and connecting the nations to Jesus.

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