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World News

Lutheran Church urges Trump to admit 'at least 95,000' refugees into US

by Will Maule

A Lutheran organisation advocating for refugees in the United States has urged President Trump to raise the number of those allowed to enter over the coming year.

The Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) says America's reputation has been "gravely damaged" by the Government's drastic reductions in the number of foreign refugees permitted to settle in the US. 

The Trump administration has until Wednesday to set its cap on the number of refugees permitted to enter the US over the 2021 fiscal year, which begins in October. As yet, the Government has yet to announce its official figure - no refugees will be admitted until the Government announces its determination. 

In light of the looming deadline, more than 200 clergy of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America — the country's biggest Lutheran denomination — have written to the Government requesting that at least 95,000 be admitted during the 2021 fiscal year.

“As people of faith, we believe that we must honour the dignity of every human, regardless of national origin,” the letter reads. “We have a commitment to follow the teachings of Jesus and to uphold our nation’s tradition of protecting the persecuted.

"The Lutheran legacy of courageous and compassionate service has made a difference in the lives of half a million people who have sought safety and hope in America’s communities. Our congregations have historically played key roles in assisting refugees with housing, language, employment, and social supports necessary for their integration into our communities.

"We have seen refugees work hard, become self-sufficient and become cherished friends, family and neighbors who enrich our lives and strengthen communities and the fabric of our nation. We hope you will support refugees now and in the future by resettling at least 95,000 refugees in fiscal year 2021. To restrict thousands of people from seeking safety would be to forsake our nation’s values of compassion and welcome.”

In 2019, President Trump caused widespread outrage after deciding to limit refugee admissions to just 18,000 for the entire year. As a result, in the preceding 12 months, the number of those permitted to settle in the US has fallen to a historic low of just 10,845.

“Our nation’s once pristine reputation as a place of refuge for the oppressed and persecuted of all faiths has been gravely damaged,” added the President and CEO of LIRS, Krish O'Mara Vignarajah, herself a former refugee from Sri Lanka. “I question if my own family would be welcomed and embraced in America today were we fleeing the ethnic and religious persecution that drove us from our home.”

Earlier this month, a Trump administration official told Reuters that all refugee admissions could be indefinitely frozen until a legal challenge to a 2019 Trump directive on the matter is resolved “with some greater degree of finality". Despite the legal dispute, the official assured the outlet that the "arc of this administration’s refugee policy is going to continue". 

 

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