Episcopal Church Says Trump's Refugee Order Is Forcing Closure of 6 Offices

The Episcopal Church's Migration Ministries says it will be closing six offices following President Donald Trump's reduction on incoming refugees.

(Photo: Reuters/Tom Mihalek)A demonstrator holds a sign to protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's executive order temporarily banning refugees and immigrants from seven primarily Muslim countries from entering the United States during a rally in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. February 4, 2017

Episcopal Migration Ministries will reduce the number of its 31 affiliates to 25 and will not be resettling refugees in the removed affiliate areas for 11 months, starting in October through September 2018.

EMM Director the Rev. Canon E. Mark Stevenson told Episcopal News Service that the reduction was a "painful" but necessary step.

"It's painful; it's horrible, but we hope — we pray — that we have made the right decisions for the health of the overall network and for the well-being of the refugees," Stevenson said in the interview with ENS.

"It's important for us to have a system where refugees are resettled where it is safe, where it's affordable, where opportunity is given to them to thrive as new Americans."

ENS reported in February that Trump's executive order reducing refugee resettlement in the United States directly affects the financial status of EMM, given it contracts with the federal government.

"EMM needs the financial support from the churchwide budget because the majority of its income comes from contracts with the federal government to cover the costs of resettling refugees approved for entry to the United States," ENS reported.

"The federal contract directly ties that money to refugees' arrival. Thus, if refugees cannot enter the U.S., EMM does not receive money."

On Jan. 27, Trump signed an executive order limiting the number of refugees to be resettled in the U.S. in fiscal year 2017 to just 50,000 (including the 32,000 already resettled under Obama in fiscal year 2017).

The move was heavily criticized by some religious groups, who believe that the move was unnecessary and interfered with their charitable efforts among displaced populations. 

Supporters argued that the moratorium on resettlement was important for national security and improving problems with the vetting process for refugees. 

EMM is not the only Christian aid group negatively affected by the Trump executive orders on immigration and refugees.

World Relief, the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals, announced in February that because of the Trump orders they would have to close several offices and lay off more than 140 employees.

World Relief's U.S. Director of Church Mobilization, Matthew Soerens, told The Christian Post in an interview from February that the ministry receives a good portion of its funding on a per-refugee basis from the State Department.

"With such a sudden and overnight reduction in the number of refugees that will be arriving, that also impacts our budget and that is where we had to make some really tough decisions," explained Soerens.

"With the few refugees that will be arriving, we will be splitting them among about 20 offices instead of about 25. There have been staff cuts in almost all of our U.S. offices and at our home office as well."

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