Today, President Trump issued an executive order severely limiting the immigration of refugees from predominantly Muslim countries. I cannot support the president’s order placing restrictions on refugees based on their nationality and religion. This executive order is a violation of the foundational principles of our nation. As a member of the Jesus movement, I believe the United States has a moral responsibility to receive and help resettle refugees from the more than 65 million people who have been displaced by war, violence, famine, and persecution. To turn these vulnerable people away and limit the flow of refugees into our country is to dishonor the One we serve.

The Diocese of Olympia’s Refugee Resettlement Office (RRO) assists in the resettlement of 190 individuals each year. Many of these refugees come from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Libya – all countries that could fall under President Trump’s executive order. The RRO assists refugees by meeting families at the airport, providing cultural orientation, helping families find and furnish an apartment, and helping them find employment. The office also provides English classes, helps refugees achieve financial stability with a matched savings program, and provides loans for refugee micro-enterprises. The parishioners of St. James, Kent and Saint Mark’s Cathedral, Seattle have worked with the Refugee Resettlement Office to sponsor two families who arrived from Syria in the last year.

According to the executive order, the refugee program will be suspended for 120 days, until a more “extreme vetting” process can be implemented. The Syrian refugee program will be discontinued indefinitely. I oppose these restrictions. The vetting process for refugees coming into the United States is already more thorough and rigorous than anywhere else in the world.

I also oppose these policies because the danger posed by refugees has been greatly exaggerated. Since 1975, there have only been eight deaths linked to acts of terrorism committed by refugees or asylum seekers. During that same period, there have been 438 deaths linked to acts of terrorism committed by U.S. citizens.

The irony is not lost on me that this executive order has been signed on Holocaust Remembrance Day, reminding us all that our nation turned away thousands of Jewish refugees fleeing the genocide in Europe. President Trump’s executive order will not make our nation safer, it will only condemn thousands of innocent families fleeing violence and persecution. As Christians, we are called to acts of love and compassion.

Key Points to Remember

  • There are more than 65 million people displaced by war, violence, famine, and persecution.
  • The United States already has the most rigorous and thorough vetting process for allowing refugees into our country.
  • Since 1975, there have only been 8 deaths linked to acts of terrorism committed by refugees or asylum seekers.
  • Since 1975, there have been 438 deaths linked to acts of terrorism committed by US Citizens.
  • The RRO helps resettle 190 individuals each year.
  • The RRO provides a variety of services to help refugees resettle in a new culture and a new community.
  • Any ban on a specific religion or nation is against our nation’s values.

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