By David Paulsen
Episcopal News Service
The Episcopal Church condemned the Trump administration’s decision, announced Sept. 26, to further slash the number of refugees to be resettled in the United States to a historic low of just 18,000 – a move that threatens to cripple the ability of Episcopal Migration Ministries and other agencies to maintain the United States’ decades-old policy of welcoming those in need from around the world.
“There are millions of displaced persons around the world. The United States has a solemn obligation to do its part to aid this problem by showing generosity to refugees. Security and compassion are not mutually exclusive,” said the Rev. Charles Robertson, canon to the presiding bishop for ministry beyond The Episcopal Church.
Robertson’s comment was issued Sept. 27 as part of an Episcopal Church statement on the issue that invoked Jesus’ command to “welcome the stranger” and Episcopalians’ baptismal commitment to “respect the dignity of every human being.”
Reducing the cap on refugees – by nearly half from 30,000 in the current fiscal year, far below the 95,000 average over the program’s 40 years – will “further dismantle the refugee resettlement program,” the church said. “Those fleeing persecution have a particular claim on our attention and concern as they seek a life of dignity and peace in the face of oppression.”
In the statement, church leaders also “strongly condemn the decision to allow states and localities to reject refugees.” On the same day that his administration announced it was slashing the resettlement program, President Donald Trump issued an executive order that directed the federal government to “resettle refugees only in those jurisdictions in which both the state and local governments have consented to receive refugees.”
The changes to the refugee resettlement program are the latest developments in the Trump administration’s ongoing effort to limit and reduce both legal and illegal immigration into the United States, a policy platform that was a central part of his 2016 campaign.