FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 2, 2019
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Faith Groups and Activists Pressure Congress to ask Administration Where Are the Refugees
Refugee admissions lag far behind where they should be, leaving thousands of lives in danger
Washington, D.C. – Earlier today, representatives from faith-based groups such as Church World Service, Franciscan Action Network, HIAS, and global humanitarian organizations such as Oxfam joined activists on Capitol Hill to demand that Congress undo President Trump’s 75% cut to the refugee admissions program since he took office.
The United States Refugee Resettlement Program has enjoyed decades of broad and bipartisan support for its life-saving work. But the drastically decreased refugee admissions numbers halfway into this fiscal year show how the administration is destroying America’s ability to respond to global humanitarian crises and protect the persecuted.
Steps away from the U.S. Capitol, Chelsey Berlin of HIAS called on the participants to remember “It’s unimaginable that America, a nation built by immigrants and refugees, would turn a blind eye to those seeking safety and freedom, to those looking for a chance to be who they are without fear of violence and persecution. The Jewish community will continue to raise a loud and persistent moral voice that injects humanity into conversations regarding refugees and asylum seekers and will keep up the pressure on elected officials when it comes to their policies.”
Attendees marched to the Supreme Court, where Syrian-American and Refugee Campaign Lead for Oxfam, Isra Chaker spoke: “Refugees flee unimaginable circumstances including violence, persecution and war, the United States continues to slam the door in their faces as they search for safe haven. These are not our American values. This is not who we are. And we will not stand for it.”
Rebecca Cole, of the General Board of Church and Society, spoke on behalf of the United Methodist tradition: “The United Methodist Church states that ‘at the center of Christian faithfulness to Scripture is the call we have been given to love and welcome the sojourner’. As United Methodists around the world are loving their neighbors by welcoming refugees into their congregations and communities, the General Board of Church and Society calls on our political leaders and policymakers to follow their lead—compassionately welcome our brothers and sisters by upholding the goal of 30,000 refugee admissions for fiscal year 2019, and setting the refugee admissions goal for fiscal year 2020 for at least 75,000.”
Jason Miller, Director of Campaigns and Development for Franciscan Action Network called the cuts to the program immoral. “The United States is a nation of immigrants and we should welcome our refugee sisters and brothers. We should not turn our backs on those who need it most, especially when our foreign policy often impacts the dire situations refugees find themselves. A refugee admissions goal of 30,000 (that we will not even reach) for fiscal year 2019 is unchristian and immoral.”
A former Lost Boy of Sudan, resettled refugee and recent entrepreneur, Manyang Reath asked Congress to act so others like him could be given a chance at life. “Refugees come from all walks of life, from doctors to farmers, scientists to teachers, all they’re asking for is a chance. I think we should give it to them just as I was once given as a former Lost Boy of Sudan. Refugees are entrepreneurs and giving back to their communities.”
Co-sponsors: Church World Service, Oxfam, Franciscan Action Network, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, National Religious Campaign Against Torture, International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), Jewish Council for Public Affairs, HIAS, International Rescue Committee