Emergency Appeal: US Refugee Resettlement

February 1, 2017

Appeal code: 628-E
Appeal amount: $1 million


On Friday January 27, U.S. President Trump signed an Executive Order suspending the admission of all refugees to the U.S. for 120 days; suspending resettlement of all Syrian refugees indefinitely; reducing the overall number of refugees to be admitted to the U.S. in FY 2017 from 110,000 to 50,000; and placing a 90-day ban on issuing visas to nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries: Syria, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Libya.

Also, the order incorporates language that gives state and local authorities power to refuse resettlement of refugees in their territories. The EO officially prioritizes religious minorities for refugee admissions, effectively putting an end to the long held and much cherished tradition of the U.S. to always accept the most vulnerable regardless of their nationality, religion or national origin.

The implementation of this EO, which became effective immediately, caught government agencies, refugees already en route to the U.S. and other travelers by surprise, resulting in people being detained and in some instances immediately deported from U.S. airports. To make matters worse, the lack of coordination and understanding of the EO resulted in detention of even U.S. Legal Permanent Residents flying in from the seven enumerated countries and the Special Immigrant Visa holders from Iraq who have assisted the U.S. armed forces. Overall, it is estimated that several hundred people were detained over the last 72 hours at a number of U.S. airports by Customs and Border Patrol. As of this writing, several people are still unaccounted for. Appeals to the Administration and government agencies involved in the process were largely ignored.

This inhumane, harsh and overblown treatment of refugees, immigrants and U.S. legal permanent residents sparked spontaneous and organized protests at airports around the United States, which spread over the weekend to city centers and the nation’s capital.

The EO effectively defunds the entire domestic resettlement network, as CWS local offices and affiliates are paid per capita on a reimbursement basis. The 120-day ban will force CWS and the other eight national resettlement agencies to severely reduce services to refugees already resettled to the U.S., stop legal assistance programs aimed at family reunification and lay off critical staff.

CWS Response

CWS and its network mobilized its constituency and joined the spontaneous protests around the country, including at ports of entry for refugees. CWS will continue its comprehensive response through:

  • Providing critical support services for refugees already arrived to the United States;
  • Providing legal assistance through offices nationwide to help those refugee families who have been separated because of the EO;
  • Implementing and expanding local-level organizing and communications support to fight the discriminatory ban at the grassroots level, and help convey the message to elected officials that these actions cannot stand.


Direct client assistance: $300,000 (inclusive of housing, food needs, utilities and medical expenses)
Legal services staffing: $150,000 (staff attorneys for family reunification)
Staffing: $250,000
Travel/mileage: $50,000
Administrative infrastructure: $200,000
Supplies: $50,000
TOTAL: $1,000,000

How to Help

Donations can be made online or can be sent to your denomination or to Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515 (designate 628-E, Refugee Resettlement).