October 14, 2019 – It has been reported that the Trump administration plans to reduce the number of refugees admitted into the United States to a maximum of 18,000 refugees in fiscal year 2020. This would be the lowest number of refugees resettled by the U.S. in a single year, since Congress created the nation’s refugee resettlement program forty years ago. As a result, the U.S. is no longer the world’s top country for refugee admissions. It had previously led the world on this measure for decades, admitting more refugees each year than all other countries combined.
The Episcopal Church in Connecticut strongly condemns the administration’s decision to reduce severely the number of refugees and further dismantle the refugee resettlement program. We also condemn the decision requiring state and local governments to provide written consent to the federal government in order for them to accept refugees, potentially preventing willing organizations from doing so.
As Christians, welcoming refugees is a fundamental feature of our faith. We are called to welcome the stranger in clear and unambiguous terms. Jesus reminds us that in welcoming the stranger, we are welcoming Christ himself into our midst.
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, Iwas naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’(Matthew: 25:31-46)
For over 35 years the Episcopal Church in Connecticut has worked to welcome refugees to Connecticut, first through Episcopal Social Services, the founding organization of Integrated Refugee and Immigration Services - IRIS http://www.irisct.org; and continuing in close cooperation with IRIS today. Recent diocesan Annual Conventions articulated our support of IRIS and refugees. In 2014 we entered into a covenanted relationship with IRIS promising to work together closely in settling refugees. Read resolution here. In response to the growing refugee crisis in Syria, we committed ourselves in 2015 to co-sponsoring the resettlement of a minimum 30 refugee families in 2016. Read resolution here. And at our 2017 Annual Convention in November we reiterated our support for IRIS and asked parishes and individuals to give to IRIS and consider sponsoring a refugee family. Read resolution here.
“The Episcopal Church, both in Connecticut and across our nation through Episcopal Migration Ministries, has historically been one of the leaders in refugee resettlement in our country. The decision of the 45thPresident to severely reduce the number of refugees admitted into the United States directly undermines our Christian vocation to welcome the stranger in our midst. Given that our Lord himself was a refugee, we need to redouble our commitment to advocate for and welcome refugees into our neighborhoods,” said the Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas, Bishop Diocesan.
We urge the parishes and people of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut to make their voices heard in opposition to the decision to drastically reduce the number of refugees admitted into the United States. Refugees represent nearly a third of the world’s displaced population – people forced to leave their homes due to persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations. The often years long vetting of refugees before entering our nation ensures that they pose no risk to our homeland. In fact, refugees are some of the most loyal and hard-working members of our society. The U.S. has historically led the world in refugee resettlement, until now. Let us return to our standing as a welcoming place, where opportunity and hope is granted to those who come asking for it, pleading for it. God's mission of restoration and reconciliation compels us to welcome and continue to settle immigrants and refugees in our country.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. (Romans 12:12-13)