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Bree’s Beat

Persecuted Christians kept from America

Bree Bailey | Contributor

Bree Bailey is a student at Taylor University with a passion for travel and international issues.Young Anmar left for school one morning just as she had every other day. To her horror, when she arrived, the building where she had spent every weekday for her education was reduced to rubble.

Her family quickly fled for their lives from their home in Aleppo, Syria and sought safety in Turkey. Anmar’s parents, Ammar and Fatma, worked hard in Turkey trying to provide for their family with little pay and rough living situations. On top of the already stressful environment, their son with special needs could not receive the proper health care to help him live well.

Four long years after this harsh uprooting from home to impoverishment, her family was transitioned to the United States through an organization called World Relief. This organization helped Anmar’s family build connections in the States and they are now contributors to society in a number of ways. Anmar can now attend school without fear of bombings and her brother has the health care he needs. The peace they have now cannot be put into words after such a traumatic upheaval of their lives.

The United Nations declared that we are currently in the midst of the “worst refugee crisis since World War II.” This issue is not going away but rather increasing.

The World Relief website states, “Over 65 million people around the world are currently displaced from their homes. Each day, that number grows by 22,000. Families are fleeing for their safety, looking for a new place to rebuild their lives.”

The true definition of a “refugee” according to international law is, “Someone who leaves their country because of a well-founded fear of persecution for one of these five reasons: race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group,” according to the World Relief website.

According to the annual UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) global trends report, half of the world’s refugees are children. These children, who travel alone or in groups to seek sanctuary, often fall prey to human traffickers.

In the midst of this chaos and turmoil people would expect that America, the land of immigrants and freedom, would be leading the charge to protect these vulnerable populations. In the past, the United States has been the hope that many refugees, like Anmar’s family, have clung to as they faced unimaginable terrors.

However, recent developments in the government have done exactly the opposite. 40 years ago,  The Refugee Act declared that the President would be given power to determine an annual refugee ceiling (the limit of how many refugees can enter the United States). In the past, this limit has reached up to hundreds of thousands.

According to The New York Times, the Trump administration announced last Monday that they intends to set the cap at 30,000 individuals. This is the lowest ceiling ever set since the Act was put in place decades ago.

Normally once a ceiling is set, it becomes the administration’s goal of how many refugees to bring in. This past year the ceiling was set at 45,000, yet only about 21,000 refugees have been admitted, according to the Boston Globe.

The cap reflects “Our commitment to protect the most vulnerable around the world while prioritizing the safety and well-being of the American people, as President Trump has directed,” Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo said.

World Relief staffer Matthew Soerens greatly disagrees with this stance. He supports the idea that we must prioritize the safety of American citizens. However, no refugee brought into the U.S. since our vetting system was put in place has ever taken the life of an American citizen. Logistically, the fear of them is truly an irrational one. They are seeking the best life for their families and desire to contribute to the community they move into.

What many do not realize is the truth that a large portion of these refugees seeking asylum are Christians being persecuted for their faith. Our brothers and sisters are being forced to stay in locations where genocide and violent religious prejudice daily threatens their very lives.

Based on Soerens’s analysis, Christian refugee admissions are plunging as only 18 Iraqi, 9 Syrian, and 5 Iranian believers have been accepted into the U.S. so far this calendar year,” said Griffin Paul Jackson of Christianity Today.

In locations where refugees are most fiercely persecuted, thousands are seeking asylum in the states but only 699 of them were allowed in this year.

“That’s a 70 percent decrease from the 2,272 Christians resettled from those countries in the same period in 2016,” said Soerens.

Soerens feels that the vetting staff at our borders has done a great job over the years protecting our nation with our current system and is sufficient without cutting the amount of refugees admitted into the country. Cutting back on the influx of refugees not only hurts those trying to enter but it also hurts ministries and organizations whose mission is to welcome the foreigner and help them adapt. Nonprofits like World Relief have been forced to lay off staff and close down certain programs due to a lack of refugees being allowed in.

This refugee issue is not about politics, it is about people and our responsibility as Christians to “love the foreigner among us” (Leviticus 19:34). As citizens we have a voice in the matter while many of these families have none. Simply calling your senators and representatives helps inform our government that we value the lives of our persecuted brothers and sisters. You can help make a change by simply sharing that you are not okay with such a low refugee ceiling or the treatment of families at our border. Your voice may be one but when paired with others it is a flood that breaks down walls.

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