Evangelical Relief Organization, World Relief, Calls for A Swift End to Refugee Ban
By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST News Service
USA/THE WORLD (ANS – January 29,2017) — A federal judge in New York has on Saturday blocked part of President Donald Trump’s controversial executive order on immigration, ruling that authorities could not remove individuals from seven Muslim-majority countries who had arrived in US airports after the order had been issued.
CNN is reporting that the White House, however, maintained today that the ruling does not undercut the executive order that US Judge Ann M. Donnelly held that the petitioners had a “strong likelihood of success” in establishing that their removal “violates their rights to Due Process and Equal Protection guaranteed by the United States Constitution.”
Donnelly, who was appointed to the bench by President Barack Obama, sits on the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
CNN stated that a White House spokesperson defended the order Sunday, saying: “It is the right and duty of the President to do everything in his legal and constitutional power to protect the American people.”
“Saturday’s ruling does not undercut the President’s executive order. All stopped visas will remain stopped. All halted admissions will remain halted. All restricted travel will remain prohibited. The executive order is a vital action toward strengthening America’s borders, and therefore sovereignty. The order remains in place,” the spokesperson said.
CNN went on to say that the court’s ruling came after immigration lawyers at the Americans Civil Liberties Union and other groups flocked to airports across the country to come to the aide of individuals who had arrived with valid immigrant visas and found themselves in legal limbo. The lawyers asked for a nationwide stay that would block the deportation of all people stranded in US airports under what the group called “President Trump’s new Muslim ban.”
Meanwhile, as chaos reigned at many US airports, World Relief, an Evangelical humanitarian group has expressed “dismay” at the Trump Administration’s decision to place a 120-day moratorium on the Refugee Admissions Program, and to “indefinitely exclude refugees from many of the world’s most vulnerable populations.”
Scott Arbeiter, World Relief President said, “The lengthy delay imposed in this ban further traumatizes refugees, most of whom are women and children, keeps families separated and punishes people who are themselves fleeing the terror we as a nation are rightly fighting to end.
“The security risks in the United States must not be confused with those in Europe where an unregulated flow of refugees, both by sea and land, present enormous challenges. No refugee enters the United States who is not approved by the State Department and vetted with great care by the department of Homeland Security and other US agencies. This process, often lasting 18-24 months, includes biometric scans, multiple interviews, and other safeguards.”
“We stand with refugees. Standing with us are many thousands of American citizens in congregations and communities across the nation who have joined us in this cause. We do so remembering that many of our ancestors came to this nation fleeing the persecution of their day. In a day in which the world faces the greatest humanitarian crisis we have known, we cannot be slow to act. Far too much is at risk,” said Arbeiter.
Tim Breene, CEO of World Relief, added: “We live in a dangerous world and it is right that we take security seriously. The American people are rightly asking for transparency on the measures taken to safeguard our homeland. However, World Relief does not believe compassion and security have to be mutually exclusive. While it is wise to always work to increase effectiveness, a lengthy and complete ban is not necessary to meet our commitment to security, transparency, and compassion.”
Numerous faith groups in America, including other Evangelicals, have weighed in on the situation and Jack Jenkins of https://thinkprogress.org, has compiled a list of many of them.
Here are a few:
Church of the Brethren: When contacted by the Huffington Post, Jay Wittmeyer — executive director of the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission and Service — did not specifically name President Trump’s order, but reiterated his denomination’s support for refugees.
“We are the church, we’ll continue to be the church, and we will welcome refugees in need from all religious backgrounds. This is in keeping with our Christian faith,” he said.
“Ministry with refugees has been a priority for the Church of the Brethren, and aid for refugees has been a priority for giving by our church members. We aid refugees through grants to organizations like Church World Service and ACT Alliance. Our grants have helped support aid work in some of the hot spots of the worldwide crisis of human displacement in recent years, for example Lebanon where many thousands of Syrian refugees are sheltering.
“In Nigeria, we are working with the Church of the Brethren there in a special response effort to aid people displaced by the violent Boko Haram insurgency. Here in the United States, several Church of the Brethren congregations are working to host refugees.
“Beginning 100 years ago, with the Armenian genocide, this has been a vital part of our church’s witness.”
The National Association of Evangelicals: Leith Anderson, its president, released a statement that reads in part:
“Christians and churches have been welcoming refugees for 2,000 years, and evangelicals are committed to continue this biblical mission. Thousands of U.S. evangelicals and their churches have welcomed hundreds of thousands of refugees over the past 40 years through World Relief and other federally approved resettlement agencies. We don’t want to stop now.”
New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good: The Rev. Dr. Richard Cizik, its president, said: “Let me clearly state what should be obvious: American political history, the moral principles of Christian faith, and the enormous contributions made by immigrants to America combine to make refugee admissions — even from war-torn Syria — a good and compassionate thing to do. However, to expand the boundaries of our inclusion will require a greater degree of political vision, compassion, and bold determination. We who are the ‘new evangelicals’ [and] will oppose violations of these principles by President Trump with equal determination.”
Ed Stetzer, who holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair at Wheaton College, an evangelical school, and is a prominent leader in evangelical Christianity, published an op-ed in the Washington Post on Thursday opposing Trump’s proposed ban. An excerpt read: “As an American citizen, I cannot change this Executive Order. But as a Christian and kingdom citizen, I cannot cheer for it, and I cannot stay silent. It is time to pray for those who are hurting, and to plead with our leaders to change course.
“We are not Europe and refugees can’t walk here. We have a well-run and safe refugee resettlement program with a long history of religious group involvement. And as an evangelical and a board member of the National Association of Evangelicals, I am thankful for its statement supporting refugee resettlement. But, I will add that I am deeply disappointed to see this safe program maligned and discounted by others who use alternative facts to say that it is dangerous in ways it is not.
“As Americans, who are also Christian, we often cry out, ‘God bless the United States!’ Fear cannot lead us to the point where our only cry left is, ‘May God have mercy on our souls!’”
“This is a safe program and one that evangelicals like me say, even if Trump will not, ‘Give [us] your … huddled masses, yearning to be free.’
“Alternative facts must not lead us to bad choices that hurt the most vulnerable — that’s not the way of Jesus and not in line with actual facts.”
Trump explains his order
However, according to CNN, President Donald Trump said in a new interview Friday that “persecuted Christians” will be given priority over other refugees seeking to enter the United States, saying they have been “horribly treated.”
Speaking with the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), Trump said that it had been “impossible, or at least very tough,” for Syrian Christians to enter the United States.
“If you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible and the reason that was so unfair — everybody was persecuted, in all fairness — but they were chopping off the heads of everybody but more so the Christians. And I thought it was very, very unfair. So we are going to help them.”
According to a report by the non-partisan Pew Research Center, 99% of the nearly 12,600 Syrians granted refugee status last year were Muslims. Less than 1% were Christian. Syria’s population is 87% Muslim and 10% Christian, according to the CIA World Fact Book.
Photo: 1) Protesters hold a sign that reads “America Land of Immigrants” on Saturday outside JFK Airport’s Terminal 4. (Photo, David Wexler For New York Daily News) 2) Hameed Khalid Darweesh from Iraq, was detained at Kennedy Airport for nearly 19 hours before being granted a waiver on Saturday. 3) New Yorkers protest outside Terminal 4 at JFK Airport where several people from Muslim majority nations included in President Trump’s travel ban were detained on Saturday in Queens. (David Wexler For New York Daily News). 4) Dan Wooding Reporting from Northern Iraq.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 76, is an award-winning winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, Alfred and Anne Wooding, who then worked with the Sudan Interior Mission, now known as SIM. He now lives in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for some 53 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. Dan is the founder/president of the ASSIST News Service (ANS), and is also the author of some 45 books. He has a weekly radio show, and two television programs all based in Southern California.
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