By Rhina Guidos
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Christians in the U.S. have taken the Trump administration to task for a dramatic drop in the numbers of persecuted Christian and other refugees being admitted into the country, even though administration officials promised last year to help.
While administration officials vowed on several occasions to help Christians in the Middle East facing what Vice President Mike Pence last year called an “exodus” from their ancestral lands, U.S. Christian groups trying to help them condemned the dramatic drop of refugees the Trump administration allowed into the United States last year and this year.
The Refugees Council USA said in a statement that policies “clearly aimed at Muslim refugees, ensure that Christians and other religious minorities from many of the countries on Trump’s list of suspect travel ban nations are also kept out. It suggests that the president has no real interest in religious persecution or the tenets of religious freedom.”
The U.S. Department of State recently released figures showing that 14,289 Christian refugees were admitted in 2018 compared to 25,162 the previous year.
Catholics joined a chorus of pleas by religious groups urging the administration to increase not just the number of Christian refugees but the number of people in general allowed to seek refuge in the U.S. On Sept. 12, they joined other groups outside the White House asking the administration to allow 75,000 refugees into the country next fiscal year.
“It is shameful that we even have to be pleading for a refugee admission goal of 75,000 for this next (fiscal year), when the United Nations reports that there are more refugees in the world today than at any other time since World War II – over 60 million. Other countries are taking in hundreds of thousands (of refugees), while our country is dismantling its refugee program,” said Jean Stokan, of the Sisters of Mercy justice team in an email to Catholic News Service.