(Reuters/Umit Bektas)Yazidi refugees stand behind fences at a Syrian and Iraqi refugee camp in the southern Turkish town of Midyat in Mardin province, Turkey, June 20, 2015.
Evangelicals have expressed their opposition to President Donald Trump’s plan to stop accepting refugees in the U.S. for the next four months.
A document, which is purported to be a draft of an executive order pertaining to immigrants, began circulating online earlier this week. The order would institute an indefinite ban on refugees from Syria and a 120-day ban on asylum seekers from other countries with links to terrorism, including Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia.
Christian aid groups that are focused on resettling refugees decried the impending policy, Christianity Today reported.
“Our concern is that this action really does further traumatize a group of people that have already borne so much tragedy,” said Scott Arbeiter, president of World Relief. “The human toll is really crushing,” he added.
The Trump administration has cited security concerns as the main reason for the policy changes. How Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), pointed out that most of the refugees from the Middle East are women and children who have been victimized by ISIS and the civil war.
“We have the opportunity to rescue, help, and bless some of the world’s most oppressed and vulnerable families,” Anderson said in a statement.
World Relief, the humanitarian arm of the NAE, took on about 11,000 cases last year with the help of almost 1,200 churches. The Obama administration has been on track to meet the goal of resettling 110,000 refugees for the fiscal year of 2017, but the Trump administration has reduced the goal to 50,000.
Vickie Reddy, executive producer of the Justice Conference, expressed her concerns that resettlement offices would have to close without refugees to serve.
“I can’t see how refugee resettlement offices will be able to survive any period of time where there is a moratorium on refugees being resettled. If offices around the country have to close their doors, that will be a tragedy,” said Reddy who is also an advocate connected to the evangelical umbrella group We Welcome Refugees.
The group, which includes World Vision, World Relief, Willow Creek Community Church and the World Evangelical Alliance, has created an online petition to express solidarity with asylum seekers. As of this week, the petition garnered over 14,000 signatures, exceeding its original goal of 10,000.