Trump Administration’s Executive Orders Against Refugees Compel CWS to Lay Off 547 Employees, Jeopardizing U.S.’ Capacity to Offer Life-Saving Services

March 28, 2017

U.S. humanitarian response undercut while more than 65 million people are displaced from their homes because of war, violence and persecution

NEW YORK—The Trump administration’s executive orders against refugees have led CWS—a global humanitarian organization and one of nine refugee resettlement agencies in the United States—to reduce its staff by 547 members, undermining the infrastructure of the long-established U.S. resettlement program and CWS’ capacity to serve one of the world’s most vulnerable populations. Since 1946, CWS has helped more than 850,000 migrants resettle in the U.S.

“The decision to reduce our staff was a direct result of these executive orders, which sabotage our ability to offer vital services, support and counsel to families seeking to rebuild their lives in safety,” said CWS President and CEO Reverend John L. McCullough. “While we have no plans for further cuts at this time, this remains a highly volatile situation for the vulnerable population we serve, and for our dedicated staff, too. We believe we will ultimately persevere, as we have when we’ve faced other adversity throughout our 70-year history. But this time will require a more robust collective effort than ever before—all while millions of refugee lives hang on the line.”

The Resettlement Support Center Africa—which runs the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program through a Cooperative Agreement with the state department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration—has been especially hard hit, with 484 staff layoffs in Kenya, 27 in South Africa, and 19 in Tanzania. RSC Africa is responsible for the preparation of refugee case files for adjudication by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officers, as well as the out-processing and Cultural Orientation of all approved cases. The layoffs also include 10 in New York City; five in Elkhart, Indiana; and two in Lancaster, PA. CWS will continue to assess the situation as it unfolds, and further staff changes may still be needed.

CWS, together with the National Council of Churches and 37 member communions representing more than 30 million Americans across the country, has recently launched a national grassroots campaign to safeguard the welcome of refugees and rescind these executive orders. This initiative commits the signees to 10 action steps, including raising $1 million in emergency funding over the next six months.

To learn more and chip in, visit our global homebase for refugee solidarity at