Christian groups say 15K cap on refugee resettlement for 2021 is 'unconscionable'

"'As evangelicals, we believe in the God-given dignity of every person in every nation,' reads a press statement by evangelical Christian leaders, including Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, under the banner of the Evangelical Immigration Table." - C.Post

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Ken S's picture

This is sad. And this is part of the reason why the pro-life stance needs to include a much broader focus than just unborn babies. Both political parties have glaring flaws when it comes to truly being pro-life.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Ken S wrote:

This is sad. And this is part of the reason why the pro-life stance needs to include a much broader focus than just unborn babies. Both political parties have glaring flaws when it comes to truly being pro-life.

Do you believe the refugee resettlement number should be unlimited?  If not, what number do you feel is acceptable?  The article mentions 95,000, as being 10,000 more than any year during Obama's presidency.  Should refugees be vetted to be sure they are actually suffering persecution rather than just being "economic refugees?"  Should legitimate refugees be returned if conditions change to where they would no longer be persecuted?  Would you find it reasonable to demand assimilation rather than just having large refugee communities trying to recreate their failed societies here?

It should be obvious to anyone that the U.S. cannot accept everyone who wants to come here, especially if they have no interest in actually becoming Americans and contributing to society here, rather than trying to fundamentally change it or tear it down.  That means a limit of some kind.  With limits there will always be some who say the U.S. is neglecting its responsibilities because someone who is "deserving" (for whatever reason) does not get to come.  Maybe 15,000 is too small, but whatever number you pick, there will be some who say it's an unreasonable limit.

Dave Barnhart

Joel Shaffer's picture

In response to your questions, Dave, here are a few facts about settling refugees. 

#1. The US has always had the most strict refugee vetting system in the world. The vetting of refugees has always taken somewhere between 18 months and 24 months, whether it was the Bush Administration, the Obama Administration, or the Trump administration. There are multiple background checks and multiple interviews that discern whether the person is an actual refugee.   Refugees are even required to take an American cultural orientation course prior to arrival.  

#2. As for assimilation and refugees "trying to to recreate their failed societies here" or failing to "contributing to society here, rather than trying to fundamentally change it or tear it down" doesn't align with your stereotype.   In 2017, there was a report produced by the HHS of the US that revealed the economic assimilation of U.S. refugees into their adopted country. Interestingly Trump refused to make the report public because it contradicted his political agenda of limiting immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers.  Here are some bullet-point summary of the report.   https://www.cato.org/blog/encouraging-findings-trump-admins-report-refugees-asylees?queryID=d845a0e6e179882994615bf3ecde42d0

  • While refugee and asylee high school graduation rates are lower than all U.S. adults, refugee and asylee college graduation rates are slightly higher.
  • Adult refugee and asylee full-time employment grows over time to be slightly higher than all U.S. adults.
  • Refugee and asylee poverty declines over time to be only 1 percentage point higher than all U.S. families.
  • Refugee and asylee median family income almost doubles over time from $32,539 to $59,433, virtually identical to the U.S. average.
  • Refugee and asylee Medicaid-CHIP participation rate halves over time to be only 1 percentage point higher than the U.S. population.
  • The U.S. refugee and asylee population paid $63 billion more in taxes than they received in benefits to all levels of government from 2005 to 2014.
  • The per capita annual net fiscal effect of each refugee or asylee was positive $2,205 compared to a national average of $1,848 from 2005 to 2014.
  • Refugees and asylees had a more positive fiscal effect because 81 percent were in their prime working years compared to just 63 percent of the U.S. population overall.
  • Refugee fiscal benefits were more than twice as great during years when the economy was growing quickly compared to the recession years.

#3. Per capita, the US ranks 50th, when it comes to settling refugees. Contrary to statements made by Trump, there are many other countries that are doing their duty and doing more per capita, than the US.  Turkey has more than 3.5 million refugees within their country. The US has almost 342,000 (approximately 1/10th of what Turkey has) and Lebanon's population is 17% refugee (the US' population is 0.1% refugee.  We just happen to have the largest combination of population and landmass that would be ideal for settling even more refugees per capita in the world. 

#4. Due to a sharp increase in war, violence and political turmoil throughout the world, there is a greater need for refugee settlement than there was 10 years ago.   

#5. The US has never had a policy where refugee resettlement was unlimited. No one is advocating this.

#6. Trump broke his promise when it comes to resettling Christian refugees. He promised to make them the priority group when settling refugees. Instead during his presidency resettling Christian refugees has dropped 90% (while resettling refugees overall has dropped almost 80%).   

 

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Joel,

So that you have a better understanding where I'm coming from, I'd first like to point out that both my brother and I married immigrants, and my adopted sister is one.  My sister actually came to the U.S. as a baby from Viet Nam around the time Saigon fell.  I also work with many great immigrants, some of whom I consider friends, and I in no way judge Americans born here to be superior people.  Further, my post wasn't about Trump.  I'll admit that I haven't studied out how he might have broken promises regarding immigrant Christians that are persecuted, or other promises he might have broken.  My position on immigration has nothing whatsoever to do with Trump (or Bush, Obama, etc.).

When I read about honor killings in this country and similar behaviors (no matter how small a percentage that is), and immigrants and refugees that talk about hating America, I still believe the U.S. may not be doing enough to encourage immigrants and refugees to accept and be a part of the American system in regards to our laws, education, how people are treated, etc., and that's true no matter who the president is.

But that aside, I still want to know the number of refugees the U.S. should take in that would be considered an acceptable  (and not "sad") number.  In your terms, what number is our "duty?" If no one is advocating unlimited, what is the right number?  When people don't want to name an actual number, it ends up meaning unlimited even if not stated.  Does the U.S. always need to be accepting more than anyone else?  Does the fact that we have a relatively large amount of land mean that should determine how many we accept?

Because the U.S. is a wealthy country overall, I agree that it should use some of that to try to be as helpful as it can be.  However, the coffers are not unlimited (in fact, it's in debt by about $24 trillion and going up every day), and the fact remains that the U.S. cannot accept as many as would want to come here and it can't only consider taking in those who might earn well, as you detail above.  As heartless as it sounds, the U.S. still has to deal with fiscal realities when determining policy for refugees and immigrants.  So if 15,000 is a "sad" number, what is a "good" one?

Dave Barnhart

Ken S's picture

dcbii wrote:

But that aside, I still want to know the number of refugees the U.S. should take in that would be considered an acceptable  (and not "sad") number. 

So if 15,000 is a "sad" number, what is a "good" one?

Joel has already addressed many of your questions so I won't rehash those, but in answer to your question above, my reply is that I think the US should be at or at least near the top of the list of all countries accepting refugees. I'd like to think that the US could lead a coalition of nations to resettle all of the most urgent refugees. I don't know if that is even remotely feasible, but the US seems to be capable of spending money on and accomplishing many other things that they make a priority. I think most people who hear that the US is accepting only 15,000 next year will conclude that it's a paltry number and that refugees are not a priority for the US, even if they can't throw out an arbitrary number they find acceptable.

From your quotes above, do you not agree that 15,000 is sad?

Robert Byers's picture

So you want me to believe that instead of paying the innkeeper to care for the wounded man he rescued, the Good Samaritan would have been much more godly and loving if he had taken the man home with him and cared for him there?  Give me a break.

The notion that America has a moral responsibility to take in refugees--as if that were the only just and Christian way to care for them--is folly.  America is doing a very poor job of "providing for our own" (1 Timothy 5:8) as it is before we even consider adding more from other countries.  Instead of deciding that we are responsible to take on the world's problems, maybe we should focus on taking care of homeless veterans and children of prisoners and the list goes on and on (and on) who are part of our own household.  

America is already taking in more than 1 million legal immigrants per year, plus who knows how many more illegally. Yet somehow it is unthinkable to restrict even a tiny fraction of that number?  Please.  Our country has ZERO responsibility--to international law or to Divine law--to bring an unlimited number of refugees from around the world to our shores.  

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Ken S wrote:

...my reply is that I think the US should be at or at least near the top of the list of all countries accepting refugees.

That still sounds like an essentially "unlimited" number, especially since you are judging it relative to what others are doing.

Quote:

I think most people who hear that the US is accepting only 15,000 next year will conclude that it's a paltry number and that refugees are not a priority for the US, even if they can't throw out an arbitrary number they find acceptable.

From your quotes above, do you not agree that 15,000 is sad?

There are a number of reasons that people don't actually want to name a number.  First (and I'd put myself in this category), they don't really know the numbers of total refugees around the world, or the percentage of those that are truly fleeing persecution, or the further percentage of those that actually want the freedoms we have in the U.S., rather than just the ability to live as they were doing, but without persecution in their home country.  Joel provided some of that, but it would take a lot more study to have really good numbers to work with.  Second, any number that is named is going to sound "mercenary," since what most really want, even if they wouldn't admit it, is an unlimited ability to take in all they deem necessary, even after the quota has been reached.  I suspect that even if Trump restored the figure to Obama levels (around 85,000), there would still be complaints that it's not enough, and that he is heartless.

Some of what Joel wrote is new to me, as I didn't know all the numbers.  I'd still want to know some further information as to what persecution is occurring and what people coming to this country actually want from the U.S. before I could say if 15,000 is really too small.  It certainly sounds small, especially compared to the numbers above about Turkey, but that also doesn't take into account whether Turkey or another nation would be, based on culture and other factors, a better fit for those refugees than the U.S.  I would push back, though, on the idea that being "pro-life" means taking in, without any restrictions or accountability, a large enough number of refugees to change the character and culture of freedom that we have in this country, just as is happening in a number of places in Europe.

Dave Barnhart

Ken S's picture

Dave, I think I agree with most/all of what you posted above. A couple comments in reply:

dcbii wrote:

 

Ken S wrote:

 

...my reply is that I think the US should be at or at least near the top of the list of all countries accepting refugees.

 

 

That still sounds like an essentially "unlimited" number, especially since you are judging it relative to what others are doing.

I can see how this seems like I'm advocating for an unlimited number. I'm really not, as I'm sure there is an upper limit to the number the US could reasonably take in for any given year. Maybe the countries at the very top are taking in more refugees per capita than they can reasonably absorb, I don't know (Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey probably are). But I do think the US can and should be much closer to the top of the list instead of being number 50. And we have done more in the past, so we could certainly have at least maintained the status quo from previous levels.

 

dcbii wrote:

There are a number of reasons that people don't actually want to name a number.  First (and I'd put myself in this category), they don't really know the numbers of total refugees around the world, or the percentage of those that are truly fleeing persecution, or the further percentage of those that actually want the freedoms we have in the U.S., rather than just the ability to live as they were doing, but without persecution in their home country.  Joel provided some of that, but it would take a lot more study to have really good numbers to work with. 

This is the reason I wouldn't want to throw out a maximum number of refugees I we should be taking in. I don't know the total number of refugees, and I also don't know the number of refugees the US can take in before systems and structures are overwhelmed. Also, I'm probably not smart enough to determine that number even if I was given all the necessary facts and information.

 

dcbii wrote:

I would push back, though, on the idea that being "pro-life" means taking in, without any restrictions or accountability, a large enough number of refugees to change the character and culture of freedom that we have in this country, just as is happening in a number of places in Europe.

I wouldn't say that being "pro-life" requires taking refugees in without any restrictions or accountability. If I gave that impression, I did not intend to. I think the US would be well within it's rights to require certain things from refugees given the privilege of coming to the US. And there definitely should be accountability. But I would also say that I have seen many Christians who really couldn't care less about immigrants and refugees, and in fact might be happier to trim the numbers even further (I'm not suggesting this is how you feel, Dave), and that is something that I believe is inconsistent with a pro-life position.

 

I live in a region with a very high population of Syrian refugees, and so I've kept up with some of the news from Syria for the last few years. There are over 5 million refugees who have fled Syria due to Syria's civil war. And there are another 6 million who are displaced but still within the country. Many of those refugees have lost family members to the fighting, and the fear and destruction that they've existed with on a daily basis is horrifying. I've heard Christians say that they should just stay in Syria and fix their own problems, as if the refugees could just go back and stop the war on their own. That attitude does sadden me, and it's all the more discouraging when I see the US trimming the numbers to record lows.

Rob Fall's picture

in 1989 as a religious refugee. (EC-B = Evangelical Christian-Baptist) She and her family came over un the Jackson-Varnik program. So, I have more than a little sympathy to the plight of refugees.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..