Bishop Joe Vasquez, Chair of the USCCB Committee for Migration, has recently shared the concerns of the U.S. Bishops with the Secretary of Homeland Security on the low numbers of refugee admissions this year. Bishop Vasquez explained, ”The current level of refugee arrivals leaves thousands of vulnerable people in harm’s way and searching for protection.” He continued, “Most often they are at-risk women and children who are too vulnerable to remain in the region and/or in situations too dangerous for them to wait in the host country until the conflict at home has ended. “ This includes 87 Iranian Christians and other persecuted religious minorities who have been denied . “ As Christians, our concerns for refugees is integral to our life of faith.”
The target for refugee admissions set for 2018 is the lowest in the history of the U.S. refugee resettlement admissions program. “These trends signify an abdication of our nation’s leadership in humanitarian protection through resettlement and in championing international religious freedom.”
Over 1600 Catholic organizations, women and men religious and lay leaders, have also voiced their concerns over the direction the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) has taken. Our Bishops are requesting that the admissions process be improved, the numbers of refugees admitted be increased, and that there be more dialogue on USRAP.
Bishop Vasquez concluded his letter: “God calls upon his people to care for the newcomers because of their own experience as newcomers (Deut.10:19). In his own life and work, Jesus identified himself with newcomers and with other marginalized persons in a special way: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Mt.25:35).