Catholic Charities of Oregon released a statement following President Donald Trump’s new executive order March 6. The nonprofit voiced strong opposition to the order, which imposes a 90-day travel ban on refugees from six predominately Muslim nations. It also suspends the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days, denying all refugees entry during that period.
“Our nation has enacted executive orders that will gravely affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of refugees and their families in the United States and around the world,” read the statement.
The order, which goes into effect March 16, means “all approved refugees, regardless of nationality or country of origin, will not be admitted to the United States,” said the organization, pointing out that the 120-day period could last longer if the administration chooses to revise the existing vetting process for refugee admissions.
“Because many of the time-sensitive vetting requirements undertaken by refugees approved for resettlement could expire during the suspension and/or a vetting revision period, Catholic Charities anticipates the admissions program to pause for many months.”
The statement said it is important to note the distinction between the travel ban and the refugee program suspension, “as these are two different policies causing some confusion.”
Even though Iraq was removed from the travel ban, for example, an Iraqi family with refugee status cannot be resettled in the United States until the suspension ends and after they meet the new requirements.
“The impact of these new orders will also be severe on family reunification, which has always been a top priority of the refugee resettlement program,” the statement read. “This uncertainty will leave families separated, helpless and without choice or options of recourse.”
Due to this suspension, agencies with refugee resettlement programs nationwide are being forced to close their programs or to make severe cuts to services and staffing.
“At Catholic Charities of Oregon, we remain committed to our mission, but we too have recently been forced to reduce the number of staff in our refugee program,” said the Portland-based nonprofit. “Unfortunately, many of those becoming unemployed or underemployed are refugees themselves who have been using their experience, language and skills to welcome and assist those refugees who have endured the long and arduous road to safety.”
The organization said it is in “urgent need” of volunteer and donor support to sustain core services that assist the more than 500 individuals who have resettled to Oregon in the last eight months.
“At Catholic Charites of Oregon, we stand behind our unfailing commitment to serve the most vulnerable, including the stranger,” the statement read. “We remain as committed as ever to our longstanding refugee resettlement program, to embracing and valuing all that these brave families bring to our country, and to helping them in a just and merciful way.”