Join me today in praying for reforms in the immigration and refugee resettlement policy of the United States. My name is Fouad Abou-Rizk and I am a Catholic who is passionate about international crisis relief and justice for the poor.
I pray that the current administration’s immigration policy will be much more kind and compassionate to immigrants, asylum seekers, and refugees. I pray that our President and lawmakers will see how people are trying to come to this country for a better life, often to escape a very dangerous life, and that they should be treated with mercy.
I pray that the current policy which now detains immigrant children with their parents will be overturned. I pray that the approximately 2300 children who have been separated from their parents after entering the U.S. will be reunited with their parents.
I pray that asylum seekers who do not enter the United States at ports of entry will not continue to be prosecuted as criminals who entered the U.S. illegally.
I pray that immigrants and refugees, especially those from Syria, will not be seen as a pest or a threat. I pray that lawmakers and government officials will acknowledge and appreciate the benefits that they bring to the American economy.
I pray that the Trump administration will hold to the number of 45,000 refugees that they said they would resettle in the current fiscal year. I pray that instead of reducing the number of refugees that the U.S. takes in, they will increase it.
Notes and Explanations
Immigration policy has been a major topic in the news and public conversation recently. It has primarily focused on injustices faced by immigrants from Latin America, but immigrants from other places are also facing injustices.
As a result of a previous executive order from President Trump, recently overturned by another executive order, apprehended immigrant families (parents and children) were separated when they crossed the border illegally, even those who were seeking asylum.
Those seeking asylum (legal protection from persecution and violence) in the United States are entitled under international law to have their requests heard and apply for asylum. Recently those seeking asylum who did not cross the border at ports of entry (legal border crossings) have been prosecuted as criminal illegal immigrants and often been deported within weeks of entering the U.S.
In addition, adults who have crossed the border illegally (including those seeking asylum) have been separated from their children, including children as young as two years of age. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said that this policy was meant to deter potential illegal immigrants. However, the conditions in the countries they’ve been coming from (mostly Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador) have been so bad that the deterrent was ineffective.
The new executive order will place immigrant children in detention centers (essentially prisons) with their parents. However, a 1997 court ruling states that minors cannot be held in detention for more than 20 days. Within the next two weeks we should see what will come about with this.
The new executive order stopped family separations from continuing, but did not do anything to reunite the approximately 2,300 children who had already been separated from their parents since early May. These children have often been brought to different states and are cut off from communication with their parents for weeks or months. Get the facts on all the policies and what they mean here.
In 2016 under President Obama, the U.S. resettled approximately 85,000 refugees. The Trump Administration has drastically reduced the number of refugees being allowed into the country, setting a target of 45,000 for the current fiscal year. However, they are actually on pace to receive only 20,000 in the current fiscal year.
As of May 31st, 2018, in the current fiscal year (since October 1st, 2017), the United States has resettled 14,331 refugees, with only 46 of them being from Syria. In 2016, 15% of refugees who were resettled in the U.S. were from Syria. Given those numbers, it is evident that this administration’s practice is especially discriminatory towards Syrian refugees.
The vetting process to enter the U.S. as a refugee is very extensive, taking 2-3 years on average from when a person registers as a refugee with the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) and begins an application.
The vetting process includes the work of 8 government agencies, 5 background checks, 6 separate security databases, and 3 in-person interviews. It’s intensity has been described as perceiving refugees as a threat when in reality they are people fleeing the threats of violence, war, and persecution.