The ACLU of Washington has filed an amendment to the original lawsuit joined by the Diocese of Olympia and asked for an injunction to stop President Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban from separating refugees from their families. The latest restrictions have indefinitely prevented children and spouses from being able to join loved ones already admitted to the U.S. under the refugee program. These latest restrictions cruelly keep families separated and re-traumatize people who have already lived through some of the most unimaginable circumstances.
Our Refugee Resettlement Office (RRO) works every day to meet the needs of the refugees who arrive in our country. Many of these refugees face enormous hardships as they struggle to make their way in a new country. This struggle is compounded by long separations from the support of family left behind in refugee camps. One refugee assisted by the RRO arrived in the United States in December 2015. He anticipated the arrival of his large family left behind in Kakuma Camp, Kenya. If they were able to come into the country, his aging parents could get proper medical care and his brothers in their 20’s and 30’s could work and earn money to help support the family.
His new life in America has been an unexpected and troubled existence of high rents and low-wage employment, impeded by 20 years of unemployment in the refugee camp and a third-grade education. He recently secured work as a baggage handler at Sea-Tac loading planes at $15 per hour. His parents, who partly blame him for the delay in their arrival and the small stipends he sends to Kakuma, keep pressing him to speed things up so they don’t spend their whole lives in limbo. He’ll be greatly relieved if, in particular, his brothers, who can never return to Somalia, get to Des Moines, Washington where they will go to work the week of their arrival and lift the burden of supporting his growing family in America and the extended family which he prays will arrive with them.
At a time when the number of refugees across the world is larger than it has ever been, the current administration continues to add new restrictions and has also cut the total number of refugees allowed into this country to an all time-low. In fact, the U.S. will soon be doing less proportionally than any other first world country. When it comes to very well vetted refugees, in a time where no credible proof has ever been offered that those in this program are a danger to our population, it is a time for us to rise as a people and a nation, not shrink back. This is not the time to be dividing families and keeping parents away from their children. This is the time to open our arms in welcome to those who have fled violence, famine, persecution, and war. This is the time for us to truly live out the ideals of our nation and turn our back on xenophobia, isolationism, and fear. For Christians, it is the time to live up to our name and our faith.