“Persecuted Christians will finally be considered for resettlement”
Christian Freedom International supports President Trump’s executive order regarding refugee resettlement.
The order mandates the suspension of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days, while the secretaries of State and Homeland Security review the program’s application and adjudication process and determine whether additional measures are required to “ensure that those approved for refugee admission do not pose a threat to the security and welfare of the United States.”
Once the 120 days expire only nationals from countries determined to have sufficient safeguards in place to guarantee the security and welfare of America would be allowed into the country.
The order gives priority for resettlement to refugees facing religious persecution, so long as the refugee belongs to a “minority religion” in his or her country of nationality. CFI president Jim Jacobson praises the order: “This means that persecuted Christians will finally be considered for resettlement. Under the Obama administration, persecuted Christians from Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere were essentially ignored or denied consideration for resettlement to the U.S.”
According to Jacobson, “The Trump administration has given hope to persecuted Christians that their cases will finally be considered.”
In the Middle East, Christians are a minority religion facing genocide but were abandoned under the Obama administration. The new executive order gives priority to “minority religions.”
The new executive order will change current policies that have favored Muslim refugees. For example, during fiscal year 2016 alone, the Obama administration admitted a total of 12,587 Syrian refugees, according to the Refugee Processing Center data. The vast majority – 12,363, or 98.2 percent were Sunni Muslims. 68 refugees, or 0.5 percent were Christians, and 24, or 0.2 percent were Yazidis.
The Obama administration announced last year that it wanted to increase the refugee intake in fiscal year 2017 to 110,000, up from 85,000. President Trump’s executive order mandates processing and admitting a total of 50,000 refugees this fiscal year, with priority given to minority religions, i.e., Christians.
The U.S. accepts more refugees for resettlement than any other country, says the UNHCR. Last year the Obama administration admitted the highest number of Muslim refugees of any year on record, according to the Pew Research Center.
It is not only appropriate to prioritize cases for resettlement, it is essential. What has been happening to minority Christians throughout the Middle East is a declared genocide. No single nation can accept all refugees, that’s why nations prioritize. Refugee resettlement must give priority to those who are the most vulnerable and persecuted.
Both commonsense and the law allow the U.S. government to prioritize religious minorities over other refugees. In fact, there is already a similar policy in place for refugees from Iran.
The late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) introduced an amendment to the 1990 Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill to assist Jews seeking a path out of the Soviet Union. Since then the amendment—now known as the “Lautenberg Amendment”—has been reauthorized every year, though for different purposes. In 2004, Congress amended the Lautenberg Amendment to add the “Specter Amendment,” which facilitates the resettlement of Jews, Christians, Baha’is, and other religious minorities fleeing Iran.
President Trump’s executive order essentially extends and broadens the Lautenberg Amendment to make it apply to all countries where religious persecution is occurring.
The executive order does not ban Muslims from entering the United States. Non-Muslims, including Christians, are also included in the temporary ban from those seven countries of particular concern.
Christian Freedom International has assisted in the resettlement of Karen Christian refugees from Burma, and assisted Christian asylum seekers from around the world. CFI operates the Freedom Inn, an immigrant community housing program, here in the U.S., to assist persecuted Christian refugees transition to self-sufficiency.