***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***
July 17, 2019
World Relief Responds to Interim Final Rule Asylum Regulation
BALTIMORE, Md. – The Trump administration announced Monday an interim final rule, effective yesterday, making families fleeing persecution who come through the U.S.-Mexico border ineligible for asylum consideration unless they first applied for and were denied asylum in one of the countries through which they traveled. This dramatically undermines the goal of the U.S. asylum system, particularly for those coming from Central America. By closing our doors to those fleeing danger and persecution, we are effectively shutting the door on vulnerable individuals for whom the United States is the only place of safety and freedom. Instead, the U.S. government should allow asylum-seekers to pursue legal protection in the United States and partner with faith-based organizations and churches to meet their immediate needs. As a Christian organization committed to the belief that each human person is made in God’s image and worthy of protection and dignity, World Relief believes that this policy should be reversed immediately.
“The humanitarian and moral crisis at our southern border is exacerbated by policies like the interim final rule that will harm children and families,” said Scott Arbeiter, World Relief president. “In a recent visit to the border, I interacted with individuals – many from Central America, but also those from Africa, South America and elsewhere – with very credible claims of persecution. They have already been forced to wait for months in Mexico to register their claim at the U.S. port of entry; now, they will be found ineligible. The U.S. has a moral obligation to respect our laws that offer protection to those with a credible claim of persecution, and we must not betray that commitment.”
This rule will only put the burden of processing asylum seekers on countries that either don’t have adequate processing systems in place or resources to process the numbers arriving. It will also make migration routes less safe. While individuals crossing the border generally turn themselves in to immigration authorities to ask for asylum, this rule may force them to attempt to cross through more dangerous routes. Asylum seekers may be more vulnerable to the whims of smugglers, traffickers and other criminal organizations.
“We’ve long insisted that the U.S. can be both a safe country and a compassionate country,” says Tim Breene, World Relief CEO. “We are not arguing that everyone who arrives at the U.S.-Mexico border should be allowed to stay, but that everyone should receive due process and the chance to demonstrate that they qualify under U.S. law for legal protections. As our government has restricted orderly, legal avenues for migration that actually fill a critical need in the U.S. labor market, it only makes it more likely that desperate individuals, including those fleeing persecution, will resort to unlawful means of entry.”
World Relief calls on the administration to reverse this policy and on Congress to clarify any ambiguity in the asylum statutes that might allow individuals with a credible fear of persecution to be returned to a dangerous situation. We urge local churches to join in advocacy and in prayer, even as they seek to welcome the asylum seekers and other immigrants who have arrived in their communities in recent months.
About World Relief:
World Relief is a global Christian humanitarian organization that seeks to overcome violence, poverty and injustice. Through love in action, we bring hope, healing and restoration to millions of the world’s most vulnerable women, men and children through vital and sustainable programs in disaster response, health and child development, economic development and peacebuilding, as well as refugee and immigration services in the U.S. For 75 years, we’ve partnered with churches and communities, currently across more than 20 countries, to provide relief from suffering and help people rebuild their lives.
Learn more at worldrelief.org.