Trump wants to halt refugee intake - and Catholic leaders are worried [CNA]


Washington D.C., Jan 25, 2017 / 04:32 pm (CNA).- Amid reports of an imminent executive order to halt most refugee resettlement in the U.S., one international Catholic charitable group is speaking out.

“When we look at what’s happening in Syria and the needs of 21 million refugees around the world, we think that this is our time as Catholics to be the Good Samaritan, regardless of what is expected of us from countries overseas,” Jill Maria Gershutz-Bell, senior legislative specialist at Catholic Relief Services, told CNA of the proposed order.

“It’s our turn to show – or really, to maintain – our leadership in welcoming the lost and the least,” she continued, saying CRS was “very concerned” about the reported executive order.

President Donald Trump will reportedly sign an executive order this week halting the influx of refugees into the U.S., except in the cases of religious minorities fleeing persecution. He could also be suspending visas issued to persons from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, and Libya.

The temporary ban could last four months, and presidential approval could be required to renew refugee resettlement from Syria.

The reports came the same day as Trump signed executive orders directing that a wall be built on the U.S.-Mexico border, “sanctuary cities” harboring undocumented immigrants be barred from federal funds, and deportations be sped up.

Americans must remember that refugees “are victims” themselves, Gershutz-Bell insisted.

The number of persons worldwide displaced from their homes is at its highest ever recorded at over 65 million, including over 21 million refugees, according to the United Nations’ refugee office in a 2016 report.

“Wars and persecution” have caused massive numbers of people to flee their homes, including a years-long civil war in Syria, and conflicts in the South Sudan, Somalia, the Central African Republic, and Yemen.

Three countries have produced half the world’s refugees, the UN noted: Syria (4.9 million), Somalia (1.1 million), and Afghanistan (2.7 million). Two of those countries, Syria and Somalia, would be on Trump’s reported visa ban list.

Refugees “need to have the opportunity to demonstrate that they don’t intend any harm to the United Sates, but in fact they’re fleeing the same kind of violence that we’re trying to protect ourselves from,” Gershutz-Bell said.

Accepting and resettling refugees is part of the Catholic mission, she added.

“Pope Francis has been unequivocal about this, and the Catholic Church in the United States has been a leader in responding to refugees for really decades now. It’s part of what it means to be Catholic,” Gershutz-Bell told CNA.

Catholic University of America president John Garvey also spoke out against policies restricting immigration in an op-ed on Tuesday, calling for “an immigration policy rooted in charity and hospitality.”

“We should ‘welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin,’” he said, quoting the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 2241. “And nations should respect the natural right ‘that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him’,” he continued.

“This generous approach to immigration is neither politically expedient nor free of risk,” he noted. “Many citizens have argued in good faith for a more restrictive policy. But would you not love and admire a country that opened its doors to the tired, the poor, the wretched and the homeless, even if they could not promise it a fair return for its hospitality?”

CRS also reported “indications” that another executive order might direct the State Department and the Defense Department to set up “safe zones” for refugees in and around the Syrian conflict.

“We have really serious concerns about that. The details of a safe zone and how that would be implemented would be critical,” Gershutz-Bell said. “They can actually end up putting targets on the backs of civilians if they’re not carefully executed.”

Full article…


Trump has never said he wants to “halt” refugee intake.

But some sense needs to be introduced into it. There is no good at all in a policy of taking in refugees from every place on earth where there is some hazard of violence. That would be half the world.

And I personally see no good in the kind of discrimination against Christians exercised by the prior administration. Syria, for example, is about 10% Christian. Yet, only 8/10 of 1% of the admitted refugees are Christian, and yet Christian refugees languish in camps in Jordan and Turkey.

Nor do I see any good in the “dumping” of refugees the prior administration has done in some areas like my own. There are currently two groups of refugees, mostly Muslim, who were settled here with a little short-term government funding. The funding ran out, and now they’re just “marooned” here, not knowing the language, without money, without any support system. It takes years to get many refugees on their feet; taught the language, job skills, sufficient familiarity with systems in order to function. Just bringing them here and dumping them on the resources of communities that can’t provide them is just wrong.

Maybe a president who is more concerned with functionality than he is with ideology can bring about a more humane refugee system than the one he inherited.


Resettlementr of middle eastern refugees into the West is not a long term solution and causes problems that people refuse to acknowledge.

There are other ways to help these people if you want to.



I think having parishes and other groups “sponsor” refugees would be a great way to help the refugees to integrate and be happier in the US.


Volags and their local partner organizations have a vested financial interest in raising the number of refugees admitted for resettlement in the United States. The more refugees taken by this country, the more cases assigned to each volag. The more refugee cases a volag is assigned, the more money the federal government hands over to the private agency. In some ways, the model resembles those charities that spend inordinately on fund raising and administration instead of on actually helping needy people.

The article is older more true today.


I absolutely agree.

But people have to realize there is nothing easy about it. It takes a long time to accomplish. My own parents sponsored a Polish family that had been slave laborers in Germany during WWII, and got trapped there when the iron curtain slammed down. Poles are very adaptable people in the American environment, but even then it took a few years to get them to where they could function well enough in this society. Back in those days, my parents literally supported them to the extent they couldn’t do it themselves with casual, unskilled labor.

Because of my parents example, I sponsored a family from El Salvador. It was white knuckle for quite some time, because even though I didn’t have to provide their support, (the father got a series of decent jobs) I was liable for it for five years if they went on any kind of welfare program. It would have been very expensive had they done it.

Still, I do support the idea of parishes, dioceses and other Church organizations sponsoring immigrants. But people have to know it’s not as easy a thing as politicians sometimes make it sound when they want to dump people on the public resources. It’s a long and difficult process, and potentially very expensive.

And to be frank about it, I get impatient with some of our churchmen who advocate unlimited immigration without providing the resources required to do it, and who just seem to assume the paying public has unlimited capacity to make their dreams of uncalculated and unlimited beneficence happen for them.


Luke 10: 25-37
Matthew 25: 31-46.



How? What is being done? Hundreds of thousands have been slaughtered already - what has the US done to help?


Ah! Thanks for this! It explains a lot for me.

And from what I know, that’s exactly what happened with two groups of asserted refugees here. It’s a very bad arrangement. If one called it cruel, one wouldn’t be far wrong. I didn’t quite understand the role of the organization that sent them here, but now I know. And it’s shameful.


The better question is what has the U.S. done to cause it. And the answer to that is “plenty”. Say what one wants about the second Iraq War (and Trump does) the worse thing was pulling out when we had security established. And now our role is to give air support to Iranian-led “Iraqi forces” that are gnawing away at ISIS in slow motion.

We could create a “safe zone” over there without all that much difficulty, but we don’t, because we are still pretending there are no “boots on the ground”. Well, there are a few thousand “boots on the ground”, far too few, and a few “boots in the sky”, also far too few.


Really? How is that better. How does that help those that are in need NOW?


Exactly. It isn’t terrorists that are being mowed down like grass - it’s mothers, grandparents, children, and babies.


from government in contracts, grants

Half a billion dollars a year. In my cynical moments…


Do you really think the best solution is to get people out willy-nilly and put them in foreign countries where they are left to their own devices and unable to contribute to much of anything? Few of the refugees have the language skills and education to even begin to sort their lives out, which is why so few refugees have been hired in Germany


Did your read what was written?

The question was: what have we done to help?
The deflection was: a better question is to ask what the US did to cause it.
The response was how is this better? how does it help those in need?

So I don’t understand your response to me - at all. I didn’t propose a solution, let alone characterize it as “best”.

But in response to you, I would suggest that leaving people to slaughter is not as good of a solution as hosting some refugees. Language? I will admit, at some risk in these times, that my ancestors came here with many languages, but no English. It took time, and of course we were treated rudely, but we did OK.


If refugees are having problems assimilating perhaps our local parishes can step into help. Lay ministries with assimilation classes and English lessons could be really helpful. We don’t have many refugees here in Montana but I would participate.


Bless you. And fortunately you elected the gubernatorial candidate who did not run campaign ads against receiving Syrian refugees.


True but there are plenty of mosques who could arrange some sponsorships as well. Just sayin…

Of course it would terrific if we could convert them to Christianity.


With the younger members, this is a good possibility.

Nice post.


I share the same thoughts…:hmmm:

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