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Barring refugees is an affront to American values
January 27, 2017

Barring refugees is an affront to American values
Confident kindness is what has made, and will continue to make, America great. — Cardinal Joseph Tobin

(Washington, D.C.) January 27, 2017 — Jesuit Refugee Service/USA expresses its deep opposition to provisions in today’s Executive Order titled “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals.” 

Among other objectionable provisions, the order will:

• suspend the entire U.S. refugee resettlement program for 120 days

• suspend indefinitely the admission of Syrian refugees

• reduce this year’s refugee arrivals from the anticipated 110,000 to 50,000

• propose to give priority to religious minorities over others who may have equally compelling refugee claims

• suspend the admission of immigrants and non-immigrants from countries including Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

These provisions fly in the face of the core American values of welcoming persecuted families and individuals who come to America to rebuild their lives in safety and dignity and to contribute to the richness of our communities. They also violate Catholic social teaching that calls us to welcome the stranger and treat others with the compassion and solidarity that we would wish for ourselves.

By proposing to discriminate among individuals with valid claims for our protection on the basis of place of origin or religion rather than on the criteria firmly established by U.S. and international law this announcement calls into question the worldwide standards of non-discrimination that are the bedrock of humanitarian response, just at the moment when we are experiencing the greatest displacement crisis since the end of the Second World War. 

Sadly, the targeting of these policies at refugees from Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East has the effect of making scapegoats of some of the most unfortunate of our brothers and sisters, mistaking the victims of terrorism for terrorism itself. 

The adoption of these provisions by the United States during Holocaust Remembrance week, is indeed shocking, and cannot fail to be taken as an abdication of leadership by those nations who measure their actions against the example of generosity hitherto set by the United States.   

Earlier today Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, CSs.R., of the Archdiocese of Newark noted: “This nation has a long and rich history of welcoming those who have sought refuge because of oppression or fear of death. The Acadians, French, Irish, Germans, Italians, Poles, Hungarians, Jews and Vietnamese are just a few of the many groups over the past 260 years whom we have welcomed and helped to find a better, safer life for themselves and their children in America.  

“Even when such groups were met by irrational fear, prejudice and persecution, the signature benevolence of the United States of America eventually triumphed.

“That confident kindness is what has made, and will continue to make, America great.”

Please check back with this website over the coming days for further information on the effects of the Administration’s actions, and advocacy to oppose it. 

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Mr Christian Fuchs