Christian refugees admitted to US down more than 50% under Trump
Trump’s harsh immigration policies extend even to a group of people he promised to protect – the number of Muslim refugees has fallen ever farther
The number of Christian refugees admitted into the US has dropped more than 50% under Donald Trump, as his harsh immigration policies extend even to a group of people he promised to protect.
An analysis of US state department data shows a fall in US support for these refugees ahead of the department’s first-of-its-kind conference on religious liberty, the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, on Wednesday.
The Trump administration capped refugee admissions for the 2018 fiscal year at a record low of 45,000 refugees, but with only three months left of the fiscal year, only 36% of that target has been admitted, according to state department data. From 1 October 2017 to 30 June 2018, the US admitted 16,230 refugees.
Trump targeted the refugee program on the campaign trail, and in office has added extra security vetting to an already rigorous vetting process. In October 2017, refugee admissions were halted for 90 days for people fleeing “high-risk” countries.
For Christians, refugee admissions have shrunk to 10,955 in the first nine months of the fiscal year that began on 1 October 2017. In the same period from October 2016 to 30 June 2017, more than 23,000 Christians were admitted.
The drop in Christian admissions is a shift from the promises Trump made in his first week in office to help Christian refugees more than previous administrations.
International Rescue Committee
The Future of Refugee Welcome in the United States
The most powerful country on earth should not be afraid of the world’s most vulnerable. The global community is facing the largest refugee crisis on record, with 22.5 million lives in limbo worldwide.
The U.S. has long been a leader in offering safe haven to those fleeing violence, tyranny, and persecution—safely resettling over 3 million refugees since the passage of the 1980 Refugee Act.
This legacy is core to American values and has enriched our economy.
Resettlement is also a strategic necessity: to maintain stability in critical regions, support American allies, and support the success of U.S. military operations overseas.
Now, as the Trump Administration considers its refugee policy for 2018, American values, tradition, and interests are at stake.
In the wake of Executive Order 13769, which capped refugee admissions at 50,000 in 2017 and disrupted thousands of lives with a 120-day pause of the resettlement program, the Administration has signaled an intent to set a refugee admissions ceiling far lower—the lowest ever on record.
No U.S. president, not even in the wake of 9/11, has so turned their back on refugees, and therefore on American democratic values, humanitarian tradition, and global leadership.
Setting a refugee admissions ceiling of no less than 75,000 refugees in 2018 is both the right thing and the smart thing to do.
- The U.S. retreat from resettlement has had grave global consequences, with refugee admissions plummeting nearly 60 percent as of June 2017.
- The average annual refugee admissions ceiling since 1980 exceeds 95,000.
- The U.S. commitment to the men and women who assisted U.S. troops is at risk: 60,000 U.S.-affiliated Iraqis await resettlement.
If the U.S. accepts these refugees at the current rate, it would take at least 17 years to resettle the 60,000 already waiting.
This is manifestly contrary to the U.S. military’s commitment to leave no one behind.
- Refugee admissions are the most secure of immigration pathways, with every refugee hand selected for resettlement by security agencies in a process that can take up to three years.
- Refugees pay on average $21,000 more in taxes than they receive in government benefits.
In 2016, over 72 percent of refugees resettled to the U.S. were women and children.6 Many are single mothers, survivors of torture, or in need of urgent medical treatment.
Women and girls are subject to heinous forms of persecution in wartime (such as gang rape) and suffer severe trauma that cannot be addressed in camps or difficult urban environments. Survivors of rape are often ostracized in their host countries, making them priorities for resettlement. For these women, resettlement is the only solution. No amount of aid could g
Do refugees integrate and adapt in America?
Both before and after their arrival to their new American homes, refugees receive cultural orientation.
Cultural orientation helps refugees to better understand expectations and adapt to life in the United States.
Refugees begin to learn English their first day in America.
Almost 54 percent of refugees speak English “very well or exclusively” within 5 to 16 years of arrival to the U.S. (NAE).
Refugees put down roots — 55 percent are homeowners (NAE).
Refugees become Americans — 73 percent become naturalized citizens and vote at slightly higher rates than the U.S.-born population (NAE).
The U.S. refugee integration framework is the gold standard around the world and is being looked to by Europe as a model.
Soviet-Era Program Gives Even Unoppressed Immigrants an Edge.
By Miriam Jordan
Aug. 26, 2017
“In a world where people are persecuted in many places for varying reasons, refugee resettlement programs should not privilege one category but rather prioritize the most vulnerable with the most compelling need to be resettled,” said Bill Frelick, the refugee director of Human Rights Watch. He called the program for the ex-Soviets, known as the Lautenberg Amendment, a “Cold War anachronism.”
The 1990 amendment, which was proposed by Senator Frank R. Lautenberg of New Jersey, established a legal presumption of eligibility for refugee status for Jews and Christian minorities from the former Soviet Union and Southeast Asia. That is a more lenient standard than for other refugee applicants, who must prove they face a well-founded fear of persecution.
Iranian religious minorities were added to the program in 2004. But Evangelical Christians make up more than 90 percent of the current Lautenberg pool, the vast majority of them from Ukraine.
Nearly 4,000 Ukrainian refugees were admitted to the United States in the first 10 months of this fiscal year, compared with 2,543 for the entire 2016 fiscal year and just 227 four years ago. Their 2017 numbers are dwarfed by arrivals from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Syria, Somalia and Myanmar. But since May 1, as the Trump administration began to restrict admissions of refugees, Ukraine has accounted for the second-largest number of arrivals, behind only Congo.
Refugee experts say the situation in Ukraine pales in comparison with massacres and persecution of Yazidis, Kurds, Christians and Shiite Muslims in territories held by the Islamic State. A United Nations report last year described the widespread executions, enslavement and rapes of the Yazidis as genocide.
No one wanted to fault the Lautenberg program, though, noting the tenuous situation in Ukraine and the fact that Christian minorities, who are seen as being pro-West, are still vulnerable to persecution in pro-Russian areas.
The Lautenberg Amendment has also been instrumental in the past in giving Jews a way to safety. “For Iranian religious minorities, like Christians, Jews and Bahai, the Lautenberg Amendment is a lifesaver,” said Mark Hetfield, president of HIAS, a resettlement agency.
The biggest group of current refugees in the US? Christians from Myanmar.
May 04, 2017
The 26-year-old was working there as a sales associate — one of three jobs he was grinding out while starting his new life in America. Some customer needed help hunting down an item. Kaw Hser, new to the job, didn’t know where to find it.
So the woman just went off.
“‘Crawl back under the rock where you came from,’” Kaw Hser says. “That’s what she told me.”
It was one of Kaw Hser’s early lessons in America’s complex feelings toward refugees.
This is the nation that rescued him from the soul-destroying tedium of a refugee camp. It has similarly welcomed 3 million other refugees in the last three decades. He is eternally grateful.
But it’s also a country where many native-born citizens view refugees with deep suspicion. Just over half of all Americans think refugees “pose a great enough risk to further limit their entry.”
One of them, of course, is President Donald Trump.
Refugees, namely those escaping war in Syria, are a “trojan horse” of terrorism, according to Trump. Others, he says, are “making up papers” to flood into America — a notion that will exasperate every asylum-seeker slogging through bureaucracy hell.
In Trump-speak, “refugee” is often used as a byword for conniving Muslims who might be sleeper agents of ISIS.
But this indicates profound confusion — or deception — about the origins of US-bound refugees. The No. 1 group of modern refugees in America is neither Syrian nor Iraqi nor Muslim nor Arab.
They’re Christians from Myanmar, also called Burma.
In the past 10 years, roughly one in four US-bound refugees have come from Myanmar.
The US was set to receive 110,000 refugees in the 2017 fiscal year, but under Trump’s orders, only 50,000 will be admitted. This policy is packaged with his travel ban order, now frozen by the courts, though it’s bound to eventually go through. Judges generally don’t dispute the president’s power to limit incoming refugees.
“We can’t understand why the president has to talk like this,” says Kaw Hser. (This name is actually a pseudonym. In his three years in America, Kaw Hser has learned that political statements often attract online mobs. He’d rather spare himself the grief.)
“He wants to turn the American citizens against the immigrant population,” he says. “We just want to work hard and go to church. … All immigrants don’t cause trouble. All immigrants don’t cause crazy bombing stuff.”
In fact, Christian refugees from Myanmar are often primed to adore America from an early age. Many grow up in Thai refugee camps, overseen by the United Nations, that abut rough patches of Myanmar.
MVRCR Resettlement Program Assists with Lautenberg Resettlement Applications
MVRCR News 06/08/2018
The Lautenberg Amendment is signed into Federal law each year that allows U.S. Citizens, Legal Permanent Residents, refugees and asylees and who are at least 21 years of age or married to apply for family members to reunify in the United States as refugees.
Applications for the Lautenberg Program can be submitted for individuals currently residing in Armenia, Azerbijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakstan, Kyrgystan, Latvia, Lithuaia, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Iran.
For individuals from the Former Soviet Union, this includes spouses, parents, children, siblings, grandparents and grandchildren of the U.S. Tie; who meet the criteria of religious minorities, including those of the Jewish faith, Evangelical Christians, Ukranian Catholics, Baptists, members of the Ukranian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. Primary applicants overseas must be at least 18 years old or married.
For individuals from Iran, requirements for applying include that the Primary applicant currently resides in Iran and is a religious minority from the Baha’i Christian, Jewish, Mandean, or Zoroastrian faiths.
The Department of State, via Resettlement Support Centers (RSCs) Eurasia and Austria, will now accept new applications that are postmarked by September 30, 2018. MVRCR must receive your applications by the 08/30/2018 in order to ensure that we can get them to the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service in time.
The Lautenberg Amendment, first enacted in 1990 as part of the U.S. foreign operations budget to facilitate resettlement of Jews from the former Soviet Union, allowed HIAS to bring tens of thousands to safety. As the worldwide refugee situation changed, the Lautenberg Amendment was expanded to include persecuted religious minorities in other countries, such as Jews, Christians, and Baha’is from Iran.
Despite being a crucial part of U.S. refugee policy, it expires each year and must be reauthorized.
I am Jewish and live in Ukraine. I would like to leave. Can I come to the United States?
I live in Russia (or one of the countries of the former Soviet Union) and I would like to leave due to the persecution of minorities. Can HIAS help me?
Refugee Admissions and Resettlement Policy
Congressional Research Service
Specialist in Immigration Policy
November 7, 2017
Lautenberg Amendment and Specter Amendment
The “Lautenberg Amendment” was originally enacted as part of the FY1990 Foreign Operations
Appropriations Act. It required the Attorney General to designate categories of former Soviet and
Indochinese nationals for whom less evidence would be needed to prove refugee status, and
provided for adjustment to permanent resident status of certain Soviet and Indochinese nationals
granted parole after being denied refugee status.
42 To be eligible to apply for refugee status under
the special provision, an individual had to have close family in the United States. Applicants
under the Lautenberg standard were required to prove that they were members of a protected
category with a credible, but not necessarily individual, fear of persecution. By contrast, the INA
requires prospective refugees to establish a well-founded fear of persecution on an individual
The Lautenberg Amendment has been regularly extended in appropriations acts, although there
have often been gaps between extensions. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2004, in addition
to extending the amendment through FY2004, amended the Lautenberg Amendment to add a new
provision known as the “Specter Amendment.”43 The Specter Amendment required the
designation of categories of Iranian nationals, specifically religious minorities, for whom less
evidence would be needed to prove refugee status. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017,
extended the Lautenberg Amendment through September 30, 2017.
44 As of the date of this report,
the Lautenberg Amendment has not been enacted for FY2018.