Evangelical leaders are continuing to speak out against the Trump administration’s cuts to United States refugee resettlement, arguing that the historically low levels of refugees being resettled harms international religious freedom.
As President Donald Trump and his administration continue to deliberate on what to set the U.S. refugee resettlement cap at for fiscal year 2019, before it begins on Oct. 1, local evangelical pastors are joining national evangelical leaders in calling on the Trump administration to do its part to better serve a small minority of the nearly 70 million refugees around the world who don’t have a home.
On a conference call Wednesday, a handful of pastors and refugee resettlement advocates voiced their concern with the fact that the U.S. is on pace to resettle less than 22,000 refugees in fiscal year 2018. This means that the U.S. is on pace to resettle the fewest number of refugees in one fiscal year since the Refugee Act passed in 1980.
After setting the cap for fiscal year 2018 at 45,000, it’s been rumored that Trump is considering setting the refugee cap at around 25,000 for fiscal year 2019. However, one evangelical lobbyist told reporters on the call that he has heard figures as low as a 5,000-refugee cap being floated around.
“We are hearing several different numbers. The 25,000 that [was] referenced is what I call a trial balloon that the administration seemed to float about a month ago,” Nathan Bult, director of government affairs for Bethany Christian Services, a nonprofit that has historically helped resettle Congolese Christians in Michigan and has helped resettle Rohingya refugees in the last three years, said.
“I think there are competing factions in Congress as well as the administration, we have heard numbers as low as 5,000 and we have talked to members of Congress who want to see numbers as high as 100,000 like they were just two years,” Bult continued. “Forty-five thousand, the [refugee cap] for this year is already the lowest presidential determination in history. [And] 25,000 would send it even lower.”
In the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, Bult said the U.S. resettled just over 27,000 in the following fiscal year. This year, he says, the U.S. is on pace for between 21,000 to 22,000 refugees despite the cap set at 45,000.
“We are already at unprecedented low levels of refugees being resettled and we are deeply concerned that it is only going to get lower,” he warned.
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Source: Christian Post