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Current Page: Politics | Thursday, June 20, 2019
World Refugee Day: Christian charity group lobbies against Trump admin refugee cap

World Refugee Day: Christian charity group lobbies against Trump admin refugee cap

Syrian refugees stuck between the Jordanian and Syrian borders wait to cross into Jordan in this undated photo. | (Photo: Reuters)

A major Christian charity organization will be lobbying on behalf of displaced people in honor of the annual observance of World Refugee Day.

Church World Service, an ecumenical nonprofit that focuses on multiple issues, will hold an interfaith press conference on Thursday as part of an effort to advocate on behalf of refugees.

The press conference will feature former refugees, Members of Congress, and faith leaders gathered to reject the Trump administration’s policies towards refugees.

Meredith Owen, deputy director of Policy and Advocacy for CWS, told The Christian Post that the event was meant to spread awareness of “the negative impacts Trump’s Muslim and refugee travel bans have had on the refugee community.”

“[We will also] call on Congress to urge the administration to at least meet this year’s refugee admissions goal of 30,000 – a historic low – and commit to resettling 95,000 refugees in Fiscal Year 2020 in line with historic norms,” said Owen.

“In conjunction with Refugee Council USA, we are holding a call in day, encouraging supporters to call their Members of Congress to support the GRACE Act and NO BAN Act.”

Owen explained to CP that CWS has been working with members of Congress to pass House Resolution 444, also known as “Reaffirming the importance of the United States to promote the safety, health, and well-being of refugees and displaced persons.

“We have been working with Members of Congress on a bipartisan resolution (H.Res. 444) reaffirming the importance of the United States to promote the safety, health, and well-being of refugees,” Owen said. “The House Foreign Affairs Committee will be marking it up on Thursday.”

Last September, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the maximum number of refugees that will be resettled to the U.S. in fiscal year 2019 (Oct. 1, 2018 to Sept. 30, 2019) will be 30,000, the lowest cap since the passage of the Refugee Act in 1980.

Protesters gather outside the Trump Building at 40 Wall St. to take action against America's refugee ban in New York City, U.S., March 28, 2017. | (Photo: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

For his part, Pompeo said that a “defective” vetting process and a backlog of around 800,000 refugees were to blame for the resettlement cap decision.

In April, World Relief released a report which found that, halfway through the fiscal year, the administration was on track to resettle even fewer refugees than the 30,000 cap allowed.

The projected total of approximately 24,300 refugees is roughly one-third the average number of refugees welcomed into the United States since 1980, about 75,000.

“We are gravely concerned that the U.S. has abdicated its role in exemplifying the moral leadership needed to meet the needs of the most vulnerable displaced around the world,” stated World Relief President Scott Arbeiter earlier this year.

“Furthermore, the dramatic decrease in the numbers of persecuted Christian and other religious minority refugees resettled in the U.S. to escape religious persecution contradicts the administration’s previously stated willingness to help these populations.”

Owen of CWS told CP that with the low admission rate, “our observance of World Refugee Day this year is more important than ever.”

“World Refugee Day is an opportunity for us to bring light to this issue and call on the administration to prioritize the rights of the most vulnerable,” said Owen.

“We hope that Americans hold the administration and their Representatives in Congress accountable to welcome refugees and pass positive legislation that will help meet robust admissions goals and bring the U.S. back to its previous position as a leader in refugee resettlement.”

Held every June 20, World Refugee Day is a global observance centered on spreading awareness about the existence and plight of refugees across the globe.

In addition to CWS' actions, over 30 religious organizations including World Relief have signed on to a letter to Pompeo demanding better refugee resettlement. 

"At a time when there are more than 70 million people forcibly displaced, the group is advocating for a renewed commitment to U.S. refugee resettlement as a core part of our foreign policy agenda and promoting international religious freedom abroad," stated World Relief in an email to supporters. 

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