UPDATE: September 29, 2017 President Trump announced earlier this week that the US will admit 45,000 refugees in the coming year. That is the lowest number of refugees admitted since the US Refugee Program was authorized under President Reagan in 1980, and down from 110,000 that had been initially authorized for this past year. The US Refugee Program came to a near standstill in February after President Trump announce a 120 day ban on refugee admissions. The ban essentially remains in effect as only a very few refugees have been admitted in the past seven months.
“In the past 10 months I’ve seen more support for refugees from evangelical churches and grassroots leaders than at any time in the 20 years that I have worked with refugees,” said Carl Nelson.
However, many people still have questions about the security of the refugee screening process. We encourage you to use the following information to talk with fellow Christians about the real fears that some people have. It’s important to our Gospel witness that Christians are seen as people motivated by the Bible and credible information.
Here are some common questions Transform Minnesota has been asked about our support for the refugee program, along with our answers:
We need to find out who we are letting into the country.
- The U.S. Government knows more about a refugee than any other traveler entering the United States. Refugees undergo a thorough vetting process of interviews, background and biometric checks, and security reviews using multiple intelligence, military and law enforcement databases. The process typically takes 18-24 months.
- There is no documented evidence that refugees are unsafe to allow into the U.S. According to a new report, the chance of a being killed by a refugee terrorist in the U.S. is one in 3.64 billion. The US Refugee Admissions Program has a remarkably strong record; of approximately 3 million refugees admitted since the Refugee Act of 1980, zero has ever taken the life of an American in a terrorist attack.
This is a temporary ban and gives the President time to make sure that America is safe.
- Protecting our homeland from terrorist threats is really important. But halting the program when there is no evidence that there is a security risk has serious consequences in the lives of real people who are seeking safety. We need to base our decisions on verifiable information about the refugee program, rather than letting fear dictate our refugee policy, which can have grave consequences on people’s lives.
- Because the U.S. refugee program is a complex, secure process, halting it for 4 months will likely disrupt the safe and orderly acceptance of refugees for many more months.
Why should we let refugees into the U.S.?
- Among core values as evangelicals are the Sanctity of Life, Religious Freedom, and Mercy. These values, drawn from our faith and belief in the Bible, compel us to offer compassion to those suffering the most, to vigilantly defend each other’s religious freedom, and to protect the lives of refugees who are made in the image of God.
- Americans are watching how Christians respond to refugees. It is a powerful Gospel witness when we are motivated by Biblical love to overcome our fears and welcome a person or family in desperate search for hope.
What are other Christians saying about refugees?
- Many evangelical organizations and leaders are urging President Trump to lift the refugee ban, while encouraging effective security procedures. The National Association of Evangelicals, the Southern Baptists, World Relief, World Vision, and many evangelical denominations are advocating for the U.S. refugee program to continue.
- In Minnesota more than 130 congregations are actively engaged in helping refugees through Arrive Ministries, our refugee resettlement affiliate, and the number is growing.
How can I help refugees?
- Smile! Many refugees and immigrants who we talk to are fearful and anxious. It means a lot when someone expresses kindness towards them by smiling, saying hello – and if you know them well enough say that you are glad they’re here.
- Secondly, refugee organizations like Arrive Ministries need additional financial support at this time. While they may not be serving as many newly arrive refugees at this moment, there are hundreds of refugee families already in Minnesota who need the help of a local church team. The ban on refugee arrivals will disrupt some of the grant funding that allows Arrive Ministries to serve refugees and the churches that help refugees.
Looking for more information?
Here are some credible fact sheets regarding the process of vetting refugees:
- Fact vs Fiction: 10 Things You Need to Know about the Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions
- World Relief Fact Sheet: Who is a refugee and what do they go through to get to the U.S.?
- White House Infographic: The Screening Process for Refugee Entry into the United States
- U.S. State Department: The Refugee Processing and Screening System Infographic
- Bridging Refugee Youth & Children’s Services: Refugee 101