MINNESOTA’S FAITH COMMUNITY EMBRACES REFUGEES IN RESPONSE TO TRUMP EXECUTIVE ORDER
“Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.”
REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT IN MINNESOTA, IMPACT OF EXECUTIVE ORDER
MINNEAPOLIS, MINN.– We are called to welcome the stranger, love all our neighbors, and stand with the vulnerable, regardless of their religion. We pray that compassion for the plight of refugees will touch our hearts. We urge all Minnesotans and particularly people of faith to be bold in supporting moral, just policies that provide refuge for vulnerable individuals seeking protection. That was the call to action voiced today by Minnesota faith leaders gathered in a church where the congregation is currently sponsoring an Eritrean family who recently arrived in Minnesota through the work of the Minnesota Council of Churches Refugee Services. “As Christian leaders, we are called by our Scripture and God to love our neighbor, accompany the vulnerable, and welcome the sojourner,” said Minnesota Council of Churches (MCC) CEO Rev. Canon Peg Chemberlin. “Today we stand our ground against executive action curtailing refugee resettlement in the midst of another global crisis.” United Methodist Bishop Bruce Ough said, “Refugees arrive among us not only with their need, but also bearing gifts of energy, resourcefulness, and fundamental hope that may contribute to the renewal of the society and the church. It is not Christ’s call on the church for a just society to abandon strangers who are at risk of violent harm but to partner with them in finding hope.” “Our shared religious values compel us to welcome the stranger into our midst,” said Imam Asad Zaman, executive director, Muslim American Society of Minnesota. “We are a nation of immigrants and refugees. From pizza to the sambusa, from Google to the iPhone, we have benefitted greatly from the immigrants and refugees who have blessed us with their presence.” Carl Nelson, president and CEO of Transform Minnesota, continued saying, “As evangelical Christians we will stand with refugees. The world changes but the Church’s calling doesn’t. Rather than cowering in fear derived from false facts about refugees, let’s act boldly with faith in eternal truth.” Rev. Canon Michael Pipkin, speaking on behalf of Episcopal Bishop Brian Prior, said the Bishop would “continue to support our faith communities in the work they do alongside other denominations and organizations to provide respite and future hope for those who have been the recipients of the worst injustice that this world has to offer.” He concluded that he would “call our leaders in government to policies that promote fairness and justice for all.” Chemberlin went further, “This Executive Order entitled Protecting the Nation from Foreign TerroristEntry Into the United States is a misstep, built on misplaced fear. The Cato Institute says the chances of being killed by a refugee from one of the seven countries listed in the Executive Order is 1 in 6.4 billion per year. “We must confess that there have been times when we have been so afraid of our neighbor that we have teetered on the precipice of violating our deeply held faith values. We will not give in to that temptation, rather we will listen to the voice of God calling us to deep compassion. “In a time when hard actions and sharp words have been directed at our Muslim neighbors, we pledge to walk with them and support their freedom to practice their religion. “Call your elected representatives, legislators, and other political leaders. Ask them to oppose the Executive Order that thoughtlessly and haphazardly disrupts the efforts of the people of the United States to offer safety and welcome to refugees in need.” About the Minnesota Council of Churches www.mnchurches.org: MCC represents up to 1 million Christians in Minnesota in the following denominations: African Methodist Episcopal Church, American Baptist Churches USA, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Church of God in Christ, Church of the Brethren, The Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Mennonite Church, Moravian Church, National Association of Congregational Christian Churches, National Baptist Convention, Presbyterian Church (USA), United Church of Christ, and United Methodist Church. The Minnesota Council of Churches’ mission is to manifest unity in the church and to build the common good in the world. Its programs align with three broad categories: welcoming refugees, mobilizing the faith community to engage in public policy, and strengthening communities through relationships and understanding. # Contact: Jerad Morey, Program and Communications Director, MCC, 612-230-3211, cell 507-403-0070, email@example.com Ginger Sisco, Sisco Public Relations, 763-544-0629, cell 612-581-4272, firstname.lastname@example.org
“Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.”
As Christian leaders, we are called by God to love our neighbor, accompany the vulnerable, and welcome the sojourner. Thirty-two years ago, the Minnesota Council of Churches responded to that call and began directly welcoming and serving refugees. Today, we stand our ground against executive action curtailing refugee resettlement.
Our nation has an urgent moral responsibility to receive refugees and asylum seekers who are in dire need of safety. The Minnesota Council of Churches calls upon the Trump Administration and all members of the U.S. Congress to demonstrate moral leadership and affirm their support for the resettlement of refugees from all over the world to the United States.
The United States already has the most rigorous refugee screening process in the world, involving the Departments of Defense, State, and Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the National Counterterrorism Center. The process includes repeated biometric checks, medical screenings, forensic testing of documents, DNA testing for family reunification cases, and in-person interviews with highly trained homeland security officials.
This Executive Order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” is a misstep, built on misplaced fear. “The chances of being killed by a refugee from one of the seven countries listed in the Executive Order is 1 in 6.4 billion per year.” (CATO Institute). We must confess that there have been times when we were so afraid of our neighbor that we teetered on the precipice of violating our deeply held faith values. We will not give into that temptation. I call on Christians throughout America to confess the ways in which we have let fear enthrall us instead of listening to the voice of God calling us to deep compassion.
The U.S. Refugee Resettlement program has been and should continue to be open to those who face persecution, as enumerated under U.S. law, regardless of nationality or religion. Any proposal that would disqualify refugees from protection based on their nationality or religion insults our nation’s founding principles, contradicts our country’s legacy of leadership, and dishonors our shared humanity.
And we reject the thinly veiled attempt to target Muslims in the refugee process. This country is built upon religious freedom. That is the American way. That is the Christian way.
As Christians, we are called to welcome the stranger, love all our neighbors, and stand with the vulnerable, regardless of their religion. We pray that compassion for the plight of refugees will touch our hearts. We urge all Minnesotans and particularly people of faith to be bold in supporting moral, just policies that provide refuge for vulnerable individuals seeking protection.
We urge you to act on this compassion. Call your elected representatives, legislators, and other political leaders. Ask them to oppose the Executive Order that thoughtlessly and haphazardly disrupts the efforts of the people of the United States to offer safety and welcome to refugees in need.
Rev. Canon Peg Chemberlin Chief Executive Officer The Minnesota Council of Churches 122 W. Franklin Ave. Minneapolis, MN 55404 612-870-3600, o | (612) 865-7982, c
For more information, contact Ben Walen, Director of Refugee Services, MCC, (612) 230-3215
Refugee Resettlement in Minnesota Nine national resettlement agencies have over 300 local offices and affiliates throughout the country. Seven of these local affiliates are in MN. Resettlement in the Twin Cities is conducted through Minnesota Council of Churches, Lutheran Social Service, International institute of Minnesota, Catholic Charities and Arrive Ministries. In St. Cloud it happens through Lutheran Social Service. In Rochester it happens through Catholic Charities.
Affiliates receive refugee families at the airport, settle them into a new home, and provide case management - including access to medical care, school enrollment, English language classes, and job readiness and employment. The services and support provided to refugees facilitate successful transition to life in the U.S. and help to attain self-sufficiency through employment, so refugees receive cash assistance for a very limited period.
Congregations and volunteer groups partner with agencies and are instrumental in resettlement. They volunteer and donate items to help newly-arrived refugees make Minnesota home.
Since 2001, nearly 41,000 refugees have been resettled in Minnesota (5th among all states)
In 2016, 3,059 individuals were resettled in Minnesota Top 5 Nationalities: Somalia - 46%, Burma - 21%, Ethiopia – 9%, Iraq – 5.7%, Bhutan – 3.9%
In 2017, 2,600 refugees are in process to arrive Minnesota
The Minnesota Council of Churches is ready to resettle 435 individuals in 2017. Nearly 60% of these individuals are from countries detailed in the executive order.
Impact of Executive Order (source: Refugee Council USA)
As of January 27, 2017 there were 67,689 refugees in the U.S. pipeline (approved by the Department of Homeland Security). This includes 13,928 Somalis, 10,680 Iraqis, 8,886 Syrians, 1,805 Sudanese, 983 Iranians, and 29 Yemenis. (source: Refugee Processing Center Wrapsnet)
Eleven families with 21 people were set to arrive through MCC in January and February; all have had travel to the U.S. cancelled as a result of the Executive Order. All of these families were coming to reunify with family members in Minnesota. Each of the other resettlement agencies has experienced similar cancellations.