World Relief, a national refugee resettlement agency, is closing its Nashville office due to President Donald Trump’s executive order that reduced the number of refugees coming to the U.S.
The organization announced Wednesday in a news release that it “has been forced to make the difficult decision” to close five offices across the country and lay off more than 140 staff members due to fewer refugees coming to the country during the 2017 fiscal year.
Other offices that are closing include those in Boise, Idaho; Columbus, Ohio; Miami, Florida; and Glen Burnie, Maryland. World Relief said all five offices have collectively resettled more than 25,000 refugees in the past 40 years.
“It has been our great privilege to serve both local churches and resilient refugee and immigrant families in each of these communities,” says World Relief President Scott Arbeiter, in the news release. “Our staff at each of these locations have served diligently and sacrificially—some of them for many years—and we are deeply saddened to have to make this difficult decision.”
“These staff members are also experts whose vast experience has brought an effectiveness and professionalism to their work. This represents a loss of more than 140 jobs—which by itself is deeply troubling—but also decades of organizational expertise and invaluable capacity to serve the world’s most vulnerable people.”
The controversial executive order signed Jan. 27 temporarily halted the refugee program and travel from seven majority-Muslim countries also capped the number of refugees that could come to the U.S. at 50,000. The refugee cap is not affected by the recent court challenges of the executive order, said Matthew Soerens, World Relief spokesman.
“I hereby proclaim that the entry of more than 50,000 refugees in fiscal year 2017 would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and thus suspend any such entry until such time as I determine that additional admissions would be in the national interest,” the executive order states.
Tim Breene, World Relief’s chief executive officer, said in the news release that the faith-based nonprofit’s organizational mandate and ministry will continue.
“We fully intend to continue the critical work of resettling refugees and serving other immigrants in the communities where we serve throughout the United States,” Breene said. “The unfortunate truth is that given the unprecedented nature of the global refugee crisis, there are simply more people than ever that need our support and our compassion. We are redoubling our efforts to find solutions to serve displaced peoples in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, and elsewhere around the globe. We urge the Trump Administration to renew and reinvigorate efforts to work together with the global humanitarian community to meet this urgent crisis head on.”
World Relief’s Memphis office will remain open.