***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***
November 9, 2018
World Relief Responds to President Trump’s Asylum Announcement, Urges Caution
Baltimore, Md. – World Relief is deeply concerned by President Trump’s announcement this morning that the administration has signed a proclamation to significantly restrict the opportunity to request asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Our asylum laws — which were designed to ensure that the United States should never allow someone who has a credible fear of persecution to be returned to a situation of violence or even death — are under threat and must be respected.
“For decades, World Relief has partnered with local churches to assist persecuted people in rebuilding their lives in the United States. We stand ready to do so now, and are deeply troubled by the news that our government may disregard our laws and restrict the opportunity to request asylum,” said World Relief president Scott Arbeiter.
“While some media reports have framed the recent movement of asylum seekers coming toward the U.S. border as a problem of illegal immigration, the right to request asylum is a part of longstanding U.S. law. World Relief has deployed legal services professionals to the border region on various occasions in recent months to help provide legal counsel to those seeking asylum. Our staff have witnessed those seeking asylum being told to wait for several weeks before being allowed to lawfully present their claims at the port of entry, which is why some have availed themselves of the legal option of requesting asylum elsewhere, as explicitly permitted by U.S. law. To attempt to restrict the right to request asylum is both morally troubling and legally questionable,” said World Relief senior vice president Emily B. Gray.
“Among the many individuals seeking asylum at our borders, there are many who very likely qualify for protections under the terms of our law and others who will likely not qualify,” noted Tim Breene, CEO of World Relief. “Our government has a responsibility to keep and enforce our immigration laws, which implies protecting our borders but also providing due process to each asylum seeker. We must provide protections to those entitled to it under our laws, and we should treat all those seeking asylum – even if they ultimately are not found to be eligible – with dignity and respect.”
Added Arbeiter, “While we call upon our government to follow U.S. law as it adjudicates each case, we also are mindful of the role of the church. Jesus instructs to love our neighbors, and he made clear in his parable of the Good Samaritan that the ‘neighbor’ whom we are called to love could specifically include a foreign traveler in need. We encourage Christians throughout the country to respond with Christ-like compassion to the plight of these individuals, and to advocate with our elected officials to ensure that life-saving asylum protections within U.S. law are not disregarded.”