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USA News

US 'no longer safe haven' for persecuted Christians says Open Doors

by Donna Birrell

A new report by the anti-persecution watchdog Open Doors in the United States has found that America is no longer the safe haven for displaced people that it once was. Its joint report with the evangelical humanitarian agency World Relief shows that the number of persecuted Christians being resettled into the United States is down 70 per cent compared with the year 2016.

The report says that one in seven Christians worldwide is subject to "high levels of persecution and discrimination." However, the US resettled 9,538 Christian refugees from the 50 countries on the Open Doors World Watch List in 2022, just a third of the number (32,248) who were granted asylum in 2016. Seven years ago, nearly 85000 refugees were admitted into the U.S. However the report says this is still a significant rebound from a low point of 5,390 Christian refugees in 2020.

For Christians from several countries that rank high on the 2023 World Watch List, there is less evidence of a return to historically normal resettlement levels. The number of Christian refugees resettled in 2022 from Eritrea (Number 4 on the 2023 World Watch List), Iran (Number 8), Myanmar/Burma (Number 14) and Iraq (Number 18) was down 85 per cent, 95 per cent, 92 per cent and 94 per cent, respectively, compared to 2016. Just 1,044 Christian refugees from these four countries were resettled in the US last year, compared to 12,883 in 2016.

A new political policy is being sited as one of the reasons for fewer refugees being resettled. In April this year, the US Department of Homeland Security was receiving approximately 12,000 applications for asylum each day. But in May a new policy was introduced restricting eligibility for asylum for those who enter the U.S. in ways other than at a lawful port of entry.

The report says that a new app designed to request asylum appointments at ports of entry, offers significantly fewer appointment slots than the number of individuals seeking to request asylum, creating a situation that some have described as an “asylum lottery.” The bill also severely restricts asylum eligibility, particularly for individuals who seek to apply at the US - Mexico border.

At the end of 2022, there were an estimated 108 million people who had been forcibly displaced globally. In the 2023 edition of the World Watch List, Open Doors estimates that more than 360 million Christians face high levels of persecution and discrimination.

Myal Greene, President & CEO of World Relief, and Ryan Brown, CEO of Open Doors US said :

“In just a few short years, the number of Christians facing persecution and discrimination has increased dramatically, as has the number of people displaced. Our hope and prayer is that this report equips and challenges fellow Christians to ensure that their witness in such a time as this—when Christians around the world face persecution and many have been forced to flee their homes—is marked by solidarity with these brothers and sisters in Christ, who desperately need our advocacy and prayers.”

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