On March 6, the Trump administration released a rewritten executive order on refugees and Muslims. The order will enact a 90-day suspension of all visas for nationals from six Muslim majority countries, halt refugee resettlement for 120-days, and lower the number of refugees the U.S. admits from 110,000 to 50,000 this year, the lowest goal in U.S. history. On March 15, a federal judge put the ban on hold, one day before it was set to go into effect. It is anticipated that the Trump administration will file an appeal against this challenge.
How is this different from the previous Executive Order?
The revised draft order removed a few provisions included in the initial executive order that was issued on January 27. The new version:
does not apply to legal permanent residents or visa holders,
removes language prioritizing and providing exceptions for religious minorities,
does not specify an “indefinite” ban on resettlement of Syrian refugees,
deletes Iraq from the list of targeted countries.
Why do we care?
Since each part of the resettlement process is time sensitive, this 120 day “pause” will cause many refugees’ security checks to expire and force those who have already been approved to wait months and even years to go through multiple screenings all over again, while their lives hang in the balance. The shutdown of the program essentially resets the clock and sends thousands of refugees already vetted by our nation’s security experts back to the end of the line.
Reducing the number of refugees from 110,000 to 50,000 is a moral failure. The US cannot turn its back on this vulnerable population as the world faces the largest refugee crisis since World War II. God issues a call to his people: we are to welcome the stranger and defend the cause of the most vulnerable. This is a moment of critical importance. The Christian Reformed Church has a long tradition of welcoming refugees into our communities and congregations. This order could cripple this life-saving ministry -- a ministry which has marked our church for five decades. We cannot remain idle; in the name of Jesus, we are called to welcome the stranger as if it is Christ himself.
The order is not yet in effect, but we must continue to speak out. Congress must hear loud and clear that Christians around the U.S. oppose these actions. Urge Congress to speak boldly against this announcement and do everything in their power to see it reversed.