Written by Connie Larkman
Hope trumps fear as President Donald Trump's rewritten refugee ban slated to take effect Thursday, March 16 is blocked, stopped by a federal restraining order that contends religious discrimination.
"The fearmongering directed at refugees is baseless. They are not a threat to our national security," said the Rev. Jim Moos, a national officer of the United Church of Christ and Wider Church Ministries Executive Minister. "Since 1980 when the United States instituted stringent and systematic vetting procedures for accepting them into our country, not a single American life has been lost due to terrorist attacks carried out by resettled refugees. The refugees we welcome are the victims of violence, not its perpetrators."
The United Church of Christ, as noted by Church World Service, is one of several churches and denominations representing more than 30 million Americans that vehemently opposed and campaigned against the president's ban. The UCC and its partners will continue to work on behalf of the refugees U.S. resettlement groups have promised to protect, and assist those partners here and abroad in resettlement efforts.
Currently, there are scores of UCC congregations engaged in welcoming refugees, from an advocacy and welcome dinner, to collecting items to furnish an apartment, to tutoring or driving people to medical appointments, to "sponsoring a family" – a special relationship between refugee family and congregation. In at least one case, a UCC church has taken full financial and social responsibility for a family to guide them through their first year in the U.S.
"As the United Church of Christ, we will continue to accompany refugees and to find ways to continue to be part of the narrative of hope that a faith in our God of love makes real," said the Rev. Mary Schaller Blaufuss, the Global Sharing of Resources Team Leader facilitating UCC refugee ministries. "Local congregations and individuals are going out of their way to welcome and advocate on behalf of refugees. This extravagant welcoming is faith in action. Look for a welcoming or advocacy event near you, or register your event on-line through our interfaith Refugees are Welcome map, helping to multiply our collective engagement."
The latest executive order to close U.S. borders to refugees was first blocked Wednesday evening by a federal judge in Hawaii, followed hours later by a separate order from a federal judge in Maryland. The March 15 nationwide court order stops three parts of the Trump directive that would bar individuals from six Muslim-majority countries; suspend refugee resettlement for four months; and drastically reduce refugee admissions from 110,000 to 50,000 a year.
"The courts have spoken yet again, affirming the will of the American people who stand with immigrants and refugees," said Erol Kekic, executive director of the Church World Service Immigration and Refugee Program. "Just like its first rendition, this rewritten executive order remains discriminatory, misguided and unconstitutional. No amount of tweaking can change this. We urge the administration to rescind this entire order, and trust that our justice system will ultimately prevail in this attack on human rights."
"Refugees are resilient and strong," Schaller Blaufuss emphasized. "They have already gone through more trauma than any of us can imagine. And yet, they continue to hope for safety and hope for a better future for their families and for the communities in which they resettle."