Refugee Organization Reports Fewer Persecuted Christians Admitted to U.S.

2018 World Watch List compiled by Open Doors of Top 50 countries where Christians are most persecuted.
Image courtesy of Open Doors

The number of Christian refugees coming to the United States from the countries where Christians are most persecuted has dropped dramatically under President Trump’s administration.

That comes despite the president’s pledge during his first week in office that helping persecuted Christians overseas would be a priority for his administration.

According to a new analysis by Matthew Soerens of World Relief, an evangelical Christian organization with a long history of resettling refugees, the number of Christian refugees admitted to the U.S. from countries noted for their persecution dropped nearly 79 percent between fiscal years 2016 and 2018.

A total of 1,215 Christian refugees were welcomed from those countries in fiscal 2018, Trump’s first full year in office, which ended Sept. 30. That’s a drop from 5,731 in fiscal 2016, former President Obama’s last full year in office, which Soerens said was a “uniquely high time for refugee resettlement.”

“This dynamic with persecuted Christians and religious minorities, in particular, does not fit the campaign rhetoric, and it’s not consistent with the focus on international religious freedom that I think is an admirable goal,” Soerens said.

Soerens based his analysis on numbers from the U.S. State Department’s Refugee Processing Center and the 11 countries where Open Doors USA reports Christians face the most persecution: North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan, Eritrea, Libya, Iraq, Yemen, Iran, and India.

“The number of people who are coming from many of those countries is 20, 23, 26—to me, you could put them all on a small bus—compared to thousands who were coming in any given year of the previous administration or of the Bush administration,” Sorens said.

The total number of Christian refugees admitted since 2016 declined about 57 percent, according to the analysis.

Soerens also said the total number of Muslim refugees admitted in that time declined 91 percent, a development he called “incredibly troubling.”

The decline in Muslim refugees is no surprise, said Soerens, given that Trump pledged during the 2016 presidential campaign to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country and signed an executive order soon after taking office that impacted travel from countries with large Muslim populations. Many viewed the executive order as a Muslim ban.

Trump has set the refugee ceiling for the current fiscal year at 30,000 people—the lowest in the history of the U.S. refugee resettlement program, which started in the 1980s—despite calls from many people of faith to raise it to at least 75,000.

The president already cut that number dramatically when he set it at 45,000 his first year in office, a drop from 110,000 in Obama’s last year in office. The country has admitted less than half of that number in fiscal 2018: 22,491 refugees.

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What this article doesn't say (at least clearly) is that while official stats show US admission of Christian refugees is down, the ratio of Christians (to Muslims) is up.  And this article criticizes Trump's admin for "breaking a promise" to specifically help Christians, it fails to mention that favoring Christians (the promise essentially claimed to have been made) is illegal (as Matt Soerens has clearly pointed out in other articles).  Trump probably would have given preference to Christians.  The pushback came from elsewhere.

Also, nothing is mentioned in this article about unlawful refugees, that is, those largely from south of the US who abuse the existing law by making suffiently worded expressions of fear after they cross the border to be released pending a hearing on their claim, when hearing resources are so backlogged that they are effectively admitted to the US for years (and then fail to show up for the hearing, remain in the US, then politically advocate for the right to remain, given that they and their children born in the US shouldn't be sent back given how long they've been here).

Bottom line is that these are we facto refugee admissions, even if unlawful and uncounted in official statistics.  And if these de facto refugees were counted, their religious would probably dominantly be Chistian.

Yes, this gets more complicated than this article suggests.

All of which is to say we usually do badly when we present statistics in the context of intending to do  political lobbying.  Indeed, the CRC should get out of the political lobbying business. 

The CRC has said, along with other organizations, that the federal government comprehensive immigration reform is needed.  That's about all it can or should say without venturing into some very thick and tall weeds.

The CRC never repeats anymore it's message that comprehensive immigration reform is needed.  Instead it has graduated to "taking political sides," which makes it part of that which increases the political divide that is the nation's greater problem.  That is hurting rather than helping.

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