A little over a week ago, we received some very sad news. Texas Governor Greg Abbott sent a letter to the federal government announcing that he would halt all future refugee resettlement to the state of Texas – an authority given to states in a recent executive order.
That decision has been a huge disappointment to the hundreds of people seeking refuge in our country.
Texas has historically been a leader in welcoming refugees to the United States, resettling over 60,000 in the last decade, more than any other single state. As a Texan, I know that these resilient women, men and children have become an integral part of the Lone Star State, contributing significantly to our state’s economic growth and becoming beloved parts of our churches, schools and communities.
In his letter, Governor Abbott implied that refugees are a burden. Our forty years of experience working with refugees in Texas has proven that, far from that, they are a blessing to the communities that welcome them.
Many of these refugees-turned-Texans have loved ones abroad who are waiting for approval to resettle in the U.S. World Relief has been reuniting families like these who have been torn apart by violence and oppression for decades. The moment a father sees his children for the first time in several years is a moment that leaves you speechless. It is a moment that illustrates so much of our call as Christians to welcome the stranger. That moment should not be banned in Texas.
Similarly, thousands of the refugees welcomed in Texas over the past decade have been persecuted Christians — families who have fled their homes simply because of the very faith we share with them. At World Relief, we’ve had the privilege of joining with local churches to welcome these brothers and sisters in Christ, trusting Jesus’ words in Matthew 25, that in doing so, we are actually welcoming Him.
Over the past week, we have received calls from volunteers, donors, concerned Texans and churches who love and welcome refugees as part of their core ministry. They’ve asked us what this means for the refugees and immigrants they love and for our office.
We have one answer: Refugees and other vulnerable immigrants are here to stay, and so are we. God has called us to welcome and serve the most vulnerable, and so we continue.
Like you, we are deeply saddened when our leaders choose to turn away from the most vulnerable among us. Nevertheless, we are determined to continue helping you answer God’s call. Immigrants will continue to come to Texas. Thousands of refugees are already part of our communities, and they still need us.
At World Relief, your donations will provide refugees and other vulnerable immigrants with the vital services they need to start their new life. Your voice will help us continue to build welcoming communities in Texas. Your volunteer hours and our church partners will continue to bring people together to create lasting change in the lives of refugees and immigrants.
We celebrated last week when the Federal Court System issued an injunction against the Executive Order that allowed Governor Abbott to restrict the Church’s ability to welcome refugees. That ruling, however, isn’t permanent. While we know the future can seem uncertain, we will not ignore our calling. Together, we will stand with the vulnerable in Texas no matter what.
Troy Greisen is the director of World Relief Fort Worth.