At Lutheran Community Services Northwest, we have a rich history of welcoming, resettling and meeting the critical needs of refugees. We’ve welcomed more than 35,000 refugees over the past 40-plus years in Washington and Oregon.
LCS Northwest remains committed to refugees, especially in light of President Donald Trump’s executive order Friday concerning refugees. We will continue to welcome refugees no matter their religion or what country they come from. We’re all God’s children, and we support refugees who are fleeing dangerous and violent conditions.
The Executive Order is already having a direct impact on our refugee work. Our Unaccompanied Refugee Minor program (URM) in Spokane was ready to welcome a 17-year-old male, scheduled to arrive Monday. He is from Afghanistan, where his parents and sister were killed by a landmine.
The boy fled Afghanistan to Indonesia, where he has been living in a shelter. He was scheduled to fly from Jakarta to LAX Sunday. Unaccompanied refugee minors usually fly with an escort. We have not heard from the escort, and the database that contains travel information has not been updated. We have no idea what to expect. This is just one example of how a story being felt around the world is impacting real, individual lives.
There are many unknowns about the immediate future of our refugee work. We have great concern for the refugees we are serving now and our employees who support them. We will do our best to make sure that they are safe and cared for.
The Executive Order signed on Friday mandates:
- A 120-day pause on all refugee arrivals. The order also bars entry into the United State for 90 days for any citizens from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia. It includes an indefinite stop on all Syrian refugees.
- Refugees from religious minorities who are being persecuted in their home countries will be given priority for US resettlement.
- When resettlement restarts, the number of refugees admitted into the United States will drop from 110,000 to 50,000 for July 1, 2106 to June 30, 2017. As of this week, approximately 37,000 refugees had already been admitted.
- There are plans to grant states and localities more authority over the placement/resettlement of refugees.
- There will be a review of the refugee admissions (vetting) program.
We are following the refugee situation closely, and we are standing with our brothers and sisters seeking safety from violence, persecution and the terror of extremist groups. If you want to make a real difference for refugees in the Northwest, please make a donation today to our refugee programs. Your gifts will help us to continue supporting refugees during these uncertain times.
If you want more information or to take action, please join the advocacy network at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. LIRS is our primary partner for our refugee services.