BALTIMORE, MD – The new executive order regarding the future of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program creates a virtual wall that will keep many of the most vulnerable refugees in our world from finding safety in America. World Relief is deeply concerned for the individuals and families affected by this decision to impose an additional 90-day ban on refugees from 11 countries at the center of the most extreme refugee crisis in human history, and for those families who are now facing an indefinite suspension of the process to be reunited with loved ones. We grieve the lives that could have been saved but will be lost due to this action.
This order continues the ban on refugees primarily from Muslim-majority countries, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and also stateless Palestinians. This is also a ban on the U.S. providing protection and safety for persecuted Christians. According to Emily Gray, World Relief Sr. Vice President for U.S. Ministries, “In 2017 the U.S. admitted far fewer Christian refugees than in prior years due to the ban on citizens of these countries and the reduction in the overall numbers of refugees allowed to find safety in America.”
The initial 120-day period ordered by the government to review the refugee program ended yesterday. The stated reason for the initial order was to review procedures and re-open the program. The new order issued Tuesday does not reopen the program for refugees in the hardest hit areas and creates additional bureaucratic hurdles that are a virtual barrier for refugees from any country. The process mandates that refugees provide detailed contact information on family members from whom many have been separated without any contact for years. Many refugees do not know the fate of their family members due to the violence they fled and will not be able to provide this information. Additionally, effective immediately, refugees must provide 10 years of detailed information on where they have lived for any period of 30 days. According to Gray, “These new requirements will mean that many refugees who had cleared the multi-level, detailed, years-long process of screening and were ready to travel to a new, safe home will be delayed or eliminated from this opportunity. Repeating these detailed processes will also create additional, unnecessary costs.”
“This order is a further abdication of the United States’ position as the global leader in compassion and welcome for the most vulnerable in our world,” said World Relief CEO Tim Breene. As a Christian organization, World Relief calls on our government to reflect the compassion of the American people and to lift the ban on these 11 countries, allow families separated by war and persecution to be reunited and to diligently work to allow refugees who have been cleared to enter the U.S. without delay.
World Relief is a global humanitarian relief and development organization that stands with the vulnerable and partners with local churches to end the cycle of suffering, transform lives and build sustainable communities. With over 70 years of experience, World Relief works in 20 countries worldwide through disaster response, health and child development, economic development and peacebuilding and has offices in the United States that specialize in refugee and immigration services.