World Relief Expresses Disappointment at the Reduction in US Refugee Admissions for FY18, Pledges to Continue Working with Churches to Serve Refugees
BALTIMORE, MD –
World Relief is very disappointed by reports that the President will set the maximum number of refugees who could be resettled to the United States in FY2018 at a historically low 45,000. World Relief has urged the administration to allow at least 75,000 refugees to find safety and rebuild their lives in the United States in the new fiscal year that begins on October 1st, 2017. At a time of unprecedented forced displacement, World Relief has worked with hundreds of U.S. churches that are ready and willing to welcome as many refugees as our government will allow.
“The refugee program has been a lifeline of protection for persecuted individuals, in particular, persecuted Christians, around the world. We should take every opportunity to protect them, including through the strategic use of resettlement,” said Scott Arbeiter, President of World Relief. “A refugee admissions ceiling of 45,000 is extremely troubling, especially as the persecution of many religious minorities, including Christians, is on the rise globally,” said Arbeiter. “World Relief is grateful for the President’s strong statements of commitment to stand with persecuted Christians and we had hoped he would set a refugee ceiling that would allow more—not fewer—persecuted Christians along with other persecuted religious minorities to find safety and rebuild their lives in the U.S.”
Historically, the average annual refugee admissions ceiling since 1980 has been 95,000, with Republican Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush setting their own respective refugee admissions ceilings as high as 140,000 (FY1982) and 142,000 (FY1993) respectively. Since 2001, the average refugee admissions ceiling has been 81,000.
Arbeiter continued, “Setting the refugee admissions ceiling at 45,000 will have devastating consequences in some of the most fragile regions around the world. Our allies in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia in particular work in partnership with the United States to assist and protect refugees from despotic regimes and horrific terrorism. The United States should lead a more robust refugee response especially as there are more refugees in the world now than ever in recorded history.”
CEO of World Relief Tim Breene said, “The United States setting the refugee ceiling at historically low levels is profoundly worrying and disturbing. We are better than this. As Christians, we believe that all people are made in the image of God and that we are called to welcome the stranger. These beliefs are also enshrined in the history and traditions of the USA which have made America great.”
Of the world’s 22.5 million refugees, the UN estimates that 1.2 million are in critical need of resettlement in 2018 because they face extreme vulnerabilities or family reunification needs. With a maximum of 45,000 being resettled in FY18, the U.S. will welcome, at most, two-tenths of one percent of the world’s refugees and less than 4% of those who are in urgent need of resettlement. 72% of refugees that came to the U.S. in 2016 were women and children. “Refugees are widows, orphans, and victims of rape, torture, religious persecution, and political oppression,” said Arbeiter, “They flee the very regimes and terror the U.S. is fighting against. These are individuals whom God specifically calls us in Scripture to care for and serve.”
“Such a severely limited refugee ceiling for FY18 will have ripple effects all around the world and keep refugees who have nowhere to go in constant risk,” said Breene. “This will affect those desperately fleeing persecution and violence, women and children who have experienced unimaginable atrocity, and our allies who have supported our armed forces and foreign policy agenda. In our nearly forty years of welcoming refugees, we have seen the mutual transformation that happens as refugees integrate into the fabric of the United States. We have seen the lives of volunteers and of local churches enriched as they serve and learn from resilient new neighbors. We have witnessed local economies thrive because of refugees’ entrepreneurialism. Hundreds of churches in the U.S. are eager and willing to welcome and serve refugees in partnership with the U.S. government, and a dramatically reduced refugee ceiling will limit their ability to live out their faith in this way. We’re deeply saddened by such a low ceiling and urge the President to use refugee resettlement as a foreign policy tool to promote our values abroad, while also providing refuge for those fleeing persecution to rebuild their lives in the U.S.”
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World Relief is a global humanitarian relief and development organization that stands with the vulnerable and partners with local churches to end the cycle of suffering, transform lives and build sustainable communities. With over 70 years of experience, World Relief works in 20 countries worldwide through disaster response, health and child development, economic development and peacebuilding and has offices in the United States that specialize in refugee and immigration services.