New President & New Americans: How the Election affects refugees & Immigrants

This is the Post I never wanted to write

Friends, I actually try not to be too political, or too partisan. My role is that of pastor – to everyone.  I’m a Christian first and foremost, and being a good citizen comes second to being a disciple of Christ.

But this week has been heartbreaking.

Please hear me:  I’m not sad because one party won and another one lost. Most people in each party are wonderful citizens and many are committed Christians, including most running for office.   I am scared because people I love are being targeted by hatred.  There have been hundreds of attacks on Americans this week – all by people who are using the election to support their hatred.  I know most people who voted for him don’t agree with that hate.  But when I heard the election results, I knew this would happen, and I felt sad for my friends.

This writer wrote very nicely about how we can only “come together” once we are willing to stand up for the least of these among us:

flag with diverse hands.jpg

Please hear me – no matter who is President, God is the King of Kings.  No human leader will ever be perfect, and every human leader has faults.  Christians struggled to vote their faith this election cycle in the US, and I applaud anyone who tried.

But, the rest of this post is a little political.  Not so much in supporting one party or another – literally no one is able to push through immigration reform in a meaningful way (it wasn’t high on the agenda for anyone this fall).  But I feel it is important that we understand the statistics behind the headlines.  If you want to want to know why people who work with refugees and immigrants are nervous about the future of the people we serve, keep reading.  It’s ok if you need a break from the news right now, and you come back to read the next post 🙂

What will happen now?

The truth is, we don’t really know how a Trump Administration will affect refugee resettlement or immigration policy.  That’s because Trump hasn’t really published official policies, and he has been contradicting many of his own campaign statements. Also, no one can predict the future. That being said, we do know some facts.

Mr. Trump’s 100-day plan  calls for the following (among other things):

  • cancelling all of Obama’s executive orders
  • stopping all refugee resettlement from “terror-prone” regions
  • increasing “vetting” for all refugees prior to resettlement
  • Deporting 2 million undocumented “criminals”
  • Build a wall on our border with Mexico
  • Repeal or re-negotiate NAFTA and NATO
  • Cancel funding to sanctuary cities

If the new president is able to do what he’s promising  – and not all of it is possible or legal – it would have serious ramifications on immigrants and refugees:

  • 1.3 million parents of American citizens would be deported.  Their American children would either go with them voluntarily, or enter the US foster care system.
  • Last year, 100,000 total refugees were resettled here through the office of refugee resettlement – part of the executive branch.  Most refugees come from war-zones, so it would be easy for a president to eliminate the entire program.
  • The current vetting is so strict that fewer than 1% of all refugees qualify.  Any sort of “increased vetting” would virtually eliminate the program.
  • There are only 800,000 undocumented criminals in the US.  So, deporting 3 million people means deporting some whose only crime is having incorrect paperwork*.
  • Mexico is not going to help us build a wall. The long-term impact of forcing this policy is unclear. There’s currently net-zero Mexican immigration to the US.
  • Repealing or re-negotiating NAFTA and NATO could seriously impact the economies of multiple countries; economic opportunities are the number one reason people choose to immigrate to the US.
  • There are currently 31 sanctuary cities in the US, and at least 5 of them have publicly stated they will continue supporting undocumented residents.  This would mean citizens in those cities would lose out on public funds which help everyone.


* Many Americans voted for Trump specifically to deport “illegals”.  But keep in mind:   40% of undocumented people arrived with paperwork, but it has expired.
up to 15% of all other undocumented persons might qualify for legal residency,but they don’t have legal counsel to help them file the paperwork.
 10% of undocumented residents are parents of citizens, and
10% were brought here as children.

that’s a total of 75% of undocumented immigrants, folks.  Immigration Reform means dealing with these 8 million people before we start mass deportations.

As Mr. Trump begins to create a transition team and nominate executive cabinet positions, the news isn’t very positive for immigrants and refugees.  Specifically, Trump’s selection of a White Nationalist as his chief strategist is disturbing.

“President-elect Trump’s choice of Steve Bannon as his top aide signals that white supremacists will be represented at the highest levels in Trump’s White House”

I hope my fears are unfounded.  Even though Mr. Trump has publicly said he doesn’t have regrets because he doesn’t make mistakes, we know that forgiveness and a change of heart is always possible.  Perhaps Mr. Bannon’s former policies can be moderated or modified by other advisers.

We are ALL refugees

Many people are scared of immigrants and refugees.  They want “those people” to “go home” and leave “our jobs” for us.  What we seem to have forgotten is that the US is a country of immigrants, and that immigration is good for our economy.  

Despite all the politics, I believe that as Christians, WE ARE ALL REFUGEES.  We may not be political or geographic refugees, in search of a legal passport or a country to welcome us.  But we are travelers on a journey.  In the waters of baptism, we left behind our sinful selves and became citizens with the saints in heaven.  But we’re not in heaven yet.  So, our earthly journey is one of spiritual refugees.  We aren’t who we were, but we aren’t yet who we will become.  In this spiritual journey, we are not alone.  God is with us.  God goes before us, and God is dwelling amongst us – God’s people.

Even if it was not politically popular to support immigration or refugee resettlement, I WOULD STILL SPEAK OUT IN FAVOR OF IT, because the bible tells me to love my neighbor as myself, to show mercy to the widow, the orphan, and the alien, to invite the stranger in to my own home.


What happens now?

Regardless of who is in office, we must live our faith, and speak out for the vulnerable and the oppressed.  Those Christians who are not ok with racism or xenophobia or hatred need to make our voices heard.

Pray.  Hope.  Speak out.  Pray.

Act Justly.  Love Mercy.  Walk Humbly with God.  – Micah 6:8


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