Editor’s Note: A version of this piece ran after President Trump signed his administration’s first travel ban. That order was blocked by a federal court. Today, a new ban was signed that suspends new travel visas for people from six Muslim countries and suspends America’s refugee resettlement program for 120 days. It will also cut the number of refugees allowed in the country in half. It goes into effect on March 16.
A recent executive order signed by President Donald J. Trump, which temporarily bans refugees and individuals from several predominantly Muslim countries, is causing a massive controversy among many Americans—and many Christians.
Here’s a look at six key facts about the refugee resettlement program and what leaders are saying.
Most Resettlements Are Cases of ‘Family Reunification.’
As several Christian organizations point out—including one actually approved by the State Department to be a part of the resettlement program—most refugees who come to the U.S. are here to be reunited or connected with family members already in the U.S.
The Current Vetting Process Is Already ‘Extreme.’
After signing the first executive order, President Trump said that new “extreme” vetting measures would be put into place. And though the president didn’t outline how the current vetting process would be improved, this infographic shows the multiple international and federal agencies involved and illustrates just how intensive the vetting process already is.
In fact, it can take up to three years.
— World Relief (@WorldRelief) January 26, 2017
More Christian Refugees Have Been Resettled Than Muslims in Recent Years.
From Pew: “During the past 15 years, the U.S. has admitted 399,677 Christian refugees and 279,339 Muslim refugees, meaning that 46 percent of all refugees who have entered the U.S. during this time have been Christian while 32 percent have been Muslim.”
Trump has said he wants to give “priority” to non-Muslims, despite the fact that more Christians than Muslims have been resettled since 9/11.
We stand for a need-based resettlement approach that treats all faiths equally … We must not allow fear to blind us to the suffering of those belonging to a faith different from ours. Instead, our faith should compel us to be the first to speak out for the oppressed and displaced among us—regardless of their religion or the country they come from.
Refugees Are Not Dangerous.
The Boston Bombers were not refugees, nor were the terrorists responsible for the Orlando and San Bernardino shootings.
The Home Country of the 9/11 Attackers Is Not Included in the Ban.
The first executive order said the following:
The visa-issuance process plays a crucial role in detecting individuals with terrorist ties and stopping them from entering the United States. Perhaps in no instance was that more apparent than the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, when State Department policy prevented consular officers from properly scrutinizing the visa applications of several of the 19 foreign nationals who went on to murder nearly 3,000 Americans.
It then goes on to announce a visa ban for the following countries for 90 days: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. (Iraq is not included in the new ban.)
Not included is Saudi Arabia, where 15 of the 19 9/11 attackers are from.
The seven countries instead were ones previously identified as “countries of concern” during the implementation of processes that required individuals who’d visited them to apply for travel visas.
Objecting to the Executive Order Is Not a Partisan Issue.
Despite how it is being painted by some, opposition to the first executive order was not a partisan issue, with leaders on both sides of the spectrum speaking out against it.
In 2015, Vice President Mike Pence even spoke out against a Muslim ban.
Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional.
— Governor Mike Pence (@GovPenceIN) December 8, 2015
As we’ve previously reported, recently, more than 100 evangelical leaders, including Tim Keller, Kathy Keller, Ed Stetzer, Ann Voskamp, Eugene Cho and Max Lucado, have signed a letter featured in a Washington Post ad denouncing President Trump’s measures attempting to temporarily ban refugees.
The full-page letter reads (in part):
As Christians, we have a historic call expressed over two thousand years, to serve the suffering. We cannot abandon this call now …
While we are eager to welcome persecuted Christians, we also welcome vulnerable Muslims and people of other faiths or no faith at all. This executive order dramatically reduces the overall number of refugees allowed this year, robbing families of hope and a future. And it could well cost them their lives.