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Trump's refugee ban forces mass layoffs at evangelical charity

Roughly three-quarters of white evangelicals approve of Donald Trump’s executive order halting refugee immigration into the United States, but numerous evangelical Christian non-profits and leaders have spoken up in opposition to the ban, and now it is having a direct negative impact on a prominent evangelical charity. Indeed, the latest casualties in Trump’s crusade are the employees at […]

By Dianna E. Anderson - February 17, 2017
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Roughly three-quarters of white evangelicals approve of Donald Trump’s executive order halting refugee immigration into the United States, but numerous evangelical Christian non-profits and leaders have spoken up in opposition to the ban, and now it is having a direct negative impact on a prominent evangelical charity.

Indeed, the latest casualties in Trump’s crusade are the employees at World Relief, one of the largest evangelical charities, which has offices across the United States to assist refugees before, during, and after their transition to life in the United States.

Due to Trump’s reduction in refugee resettlements in the United States, World Relief has announced layoffs of at least 140 staff members and the closure of five offices:

As a direct result of the recent decision by the Trump Administration to dramatically reduce the number of refugees resettled in the U.S. throughout fiscal year 2017, World Relief has been forced to make the difficult decision to layoff 140+ staff members across its U.S. Ministry and close local offices in Boise, Idaho; Columbus, Ohio; Miami, Florida; Nashville, Tennessee; and Glen Burnie, Maryland. Collectively, these five offices have resettled more than 25,000 refugees over the past four decades.

Scott Arbeiter, the president of World Relief, pointed out that these layoffs were not just the loss of jobs, but of major expertise in refugee resettlement:

Our staff at each of these locations have served diligently and sacrificially — some of them for many years — and we are deeply saddened to have to make this difficult decision. These staff members are also experts whose vast experience has brought an effectiveness and professionalism to their work. This represents a loss of more than 140 jobs — which by itself is deeply troubling — but also decades of organizational expertise and invaluable capacity to serve the world’s most vulnerable people.

While judges have blocked parts of the ban, a cap of 50,000 on the number of refugees allowed during the fiscal year of 2017 — 30,000 of which have already been resettled — means that numerous refugee resettlement charities will have to drastically alter their work.

World Relief in particular is funded by grants it receives from the federal government for refugees they resettle. Thus a significant drop in refugees means a significant drop in funding, and a detrimental impact to the organization’s mission to fulfill what they see as a Christian duty to the least of these.

Trump’s zeal for closing the borders is harming people both inside and outside the country. Refugees are now stranded, uncertain of their future. And refugee resettlement experts in the United States now find themselves suddenly unemployed, scrambling to find new work in a new field.

World Relief was established by the National Association of Evangelicals as a response to the humanitarian crisis in Europe after World War II. It has been a beacon of humanitarian service in the evangelical community for nearly 75 years.

(Katie Paris contributed to this article.)


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