Church World Service, Religious Leaders, and Refugees Denounce President Trump’s Announcement on Refugee Resettlement

January 27, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Friday, January 27, 2017
CONTACT: Wardah Khalid | media@cwsglobal.org | 713.587.6342

After President Donald Trump’s announcement today to grind the U.S. refugee resettlement program to a halt; drastically reduce refugee admissions; ban refugees from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and possibly other countries indefinitely; and narrowly preference religious minorities, Church World Service, refugee leaders, and heads of communion of key religious denominations issued the following statements:

Rev. John L. McCullough, CWS President and CEO:

“CWS is staunchly opposed and gravely disheartened by this callous, discriminatory decision, which turns our backs on refugees when they are most in need of safety. Make no mistake––by restricting access to resettlement for refugees from Syria and other countries and simultaneously preferencing religious minorities, President Trump is manifesting the ‘Muslim ban’ that he threatened on the campaign trail. This is a clear case of religious discrimination and must be decried as such. My heart is heavy for refugees who believed our promise to them; for their family members who are here and desperately waiting to be reunited with their sister, brother, parent or child; and for the very soul of this nation. Amid the largest displacement crisis since World War II, this announcement is not only morally reprehensible but entirely misguided, downright dangerous, and in direct opposition to the values we espouse as a nation. It directly contradicts our nation’s longstanding legacy of welcome and undermines our legitimacy as a global leader––at a time when the international community is counting on us to exhibit greater moral courage and bolder leadership.

“Let’s not forget: Refugees are ordinary people fleeing extraordinary adversity––they are also the most heavily vetted individuals in our country. To deny the world’s most vulnerable people their last hope of living in safety is to deny our common humanity. This is not who we are. I’m ashamed and distraught by this news––but also more resolved than ever to continue standing in solidarity with our refugee and immigrant brothers and sisters. Together with our partners and the many communities of welcome across the country, we will not waver to pursue all options at our disposal to continue serving and protecting refugees, regardless of where they are from or how they pray. We urge the new administration to immediately reverse this announcement, to reaffirm the importance of welcoming refugees, and to commit to never discriminate against individuals based on their nationality. We also urge all Members of Congress to speak out loudly against this announcement, and to do everything in their power to see it reversed. The worst humanitarian crisis in recorded history warrants nothing less.”

Refugee Statements (bios here):

Mariela Shaker, Syrian refugee and world renowned violinist:
“I am not just worried about my family who is still in Aleppo in the war zone, but also my friends who arrived here with me three years ago and their asylum status is still pending. These people are great potential not a burden! They graduated from Illinois Institute of Technology and they are now employed at Google, Apple, Goldman Sachs and many others. It is very, very sad to ban all the people from Syria simply just because they are Syrians!”

Meathaq Alaunaibi, Iraqi refugee:
“Refugees are not dangerous. “They have years of security screenings. My family and I left everything in Iraq. We have dreams and we hope that they will come true. I dream that the United States will allow my twin daughters who are still in Iraq to join us soon.”

Omar Al-Muqdad, Syrian refugee and journalist:
“My cousin, Abdulkader, has been living with his wife and three beautiful children in a refugee camp in Jordan since 2011. Before the conflict began in Syria, he was working in a bakery shop, making a decent living for his family. Due to the upheaval that took place in our city of Daraa, his bakery shop was forced to shut down. Abdulkader had no choice but to escape to the closest border – to Jordan. Their dreams of securing a good life and good education for their children are shattered by an irresponsible decision to end refugee resettlement and failing to live up to our American values of compassion, hospitality, and welcome.”

Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer, General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ:
“Many of our congregations in the United Church of Christ are involved in welcoming refugees and aiding in the resettlement and integration process. It is part of our faith tradition and a moral imperative to serve those who have faced life threatening, trauma and extreme injustice. We cannot condone excluding people based on their nationality or religious background, but instead must work towards inclusivity and justice for all, no matter where they are on life’s journey. The UCC will continue to be in solidarity with refugees as we advocate for policies that welcome all people.”

Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.):
“Presbyterians, professing a faith in Jesus who entered this world a refugee, have supported refugee resettlement since World War II. Many of our congregations are led by and comprised of former refugees and many more have been transformed by the new friends they have encountered when assisting in resettlement. We are in the midst of a worldwide refugee crisis. Repressing mercy and compassion, in times like these, with groundless limits placed on the faith and nationality of those we should welcome, will not make our nation safer. It will only serve to harm hundreds of thousands of people who are waiting desperately for a safe home and will drive rifts between us and our global neighbors. Our nation is better than this and our congregations stand ready to welcome refugees of all faiths and nations.”

Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the U.S. and Canada:
“Disciples communities around the nation are eager to help and to welcome refugees. As the first faith movement founded on the American frontier, our members remember deeply the characteristics of independence, initiative and determination to contribute that have historically characterized our American spirit. Such values, often born of pain and challenges, are likewise ones we see reflected in the courage of refugee individuals and families who continue to be our neighbors, our fellow church members, and our school and work mates. We therefore remain deeply committed to fulfilling God’s call in scripture to welcome the stranger and treat ‘the alien who resides with you…as the citizen among you’ (Leviticus 19:34). We have upheld this commitment to offer hospitality to well over 40,000 refugees since the time of WWII, and have done so by providing housing, employment, mentoring, contributions, prayer and friendship. In this critical era when one in every one hundred thirteen individuals around the globe is a refugee, asylee, or displaced person, we remain strongly supportive of the U.S. refugee program, which vigorously vets refugees through multiple federal and international agency interviews, screenings, and lengthy checks. Indeed, refugees are the most scrutinized of all arrivals into the U.S. Our faith communities remain ready to serve as historic welcoming partners with the U.S. government to embrace vulnerable refugees of multiple ethnic and faith backgrounds in need of safety and healing in this land. As we ‘do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers,’ we are likely to find our own communities strengthened by the gifts and courage brought by refugees—and may indeed, as our scriptures remind us, find we have ‘entertained angels without knowing it.’” (Hebrews 13:2)

###

CWS––a global humanitarian organization and one of nine refugee resettlement agencies in the United States––represents 37 Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox communions and 34 local refugee resettlement offices across the United States. Since CWS first opened its doors in 1946, it has has consistently stood at the forefront refugee and immigrant work, helping more than 850,000 migrants rebuild their lives here in the United States. Learn more about our work and join our global homebase for refugee solidarity at GreaterAs1.org.