faith in action

An Update on Refugee Resettlement in the U.S.

An Update on Refugee Resettlement in the U.S.

Wednesday, a U.S. federal judge in Maryland issued a preliminary injunction, blocking the implementation of the Trump administration’s executive order that permitted states and localities to opt-out of refugee resettlement. The Executive Order requires the written consent of governors and local officials to continue refugee resettlement.

We give thanks for the wisdom of this decision. We also express gratitude for the leadership provided by our refugee resettlement partners, Church World Service, HIAS, and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, who filed this lawsuit.

This means that refugee resettlement will continue across the U.S. Just last week, Governor George Abbott of Texas announced his state’s intent to stop accepting refugees this year. But because of the ruling, Texas will resume resettling refugees.

The executive order was the Trump administration’s latest attempt to shrink the refugee resettlement program. Since 2017, the administration has slashed refugee admissions to the U.S. to historic lows, every year surpassing the last. This year’s cap is at 18,000, down from 30,000 the prior year.

But United Methodists raised their voices. You reminded elected officials that the Gospel calls us to show hospitality to strangers and people in need (Leviticus 19:33-34, Matthew 25:35, Hebrews 13:2).

We are grateful for the United Methodists—the United Methodist Immigration Task Force, the Council of Bishops, caucuses, and lay and clergy in annual conferences—who worked tirelessly to engage and encourage elected officials to submit the required consent letters to accept refugees. As a result of your efforts over the past few months, a bipartisan group of 42 governors and more than 100 local officials agreed to continue refugee resettlement in their communities.

Wednesday’s actions blocking the executive order now means pursuing consent letters is no longer necessary.

We do not know what will happen next with this case. But we do know that our local and state elected officials need to hear why we support a strong refugee resettlement program!

We encourage you to reach out to elected officials to talk about the many benefits of refugees in our communities. If you already have meetings scheduled with your elected officials to talk about the executive order, use these opportunities to continue to urge them to support refugee resettlement in their communities.

The United Methodist Church remains committed to welcoming and resettling refugees. We will continue to share stories of how refugees enrich our congregations and communities.