The US Bishops have said they are “disappointed” at President Donald Trump’s “heartbreaking” cut to the number of refugee admissions into the country.

– Administration’s decision on refugee intake has “tangible impact on… vulnerable families in need of refuge”

“We continue to be disappointed by the Trump Administration’s diminishment of the U.S. refugee resettlement program, as these decisions have a tangible impact on those fleeing religious persecution and other vulnerable families in need of refuge”, President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, and chair of the USCCB’s Committe on Migration, Auxiliary Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville of Washington, said in an October 2 statement.

Gomez and Dorsonville were commenting on a State Department report to Congress September 30 that recommended that just 15,000 refugees be allowed into the United States in 2021,

The USCCB decried a pattern of “stark decrease in refugee admissions” each year over the Trump presidency to date.

The 2021 number represents a significant drop even on last year’s historic low of 18,000 refugees, and is a far cry from the historical average of 95,000 admissions annually.

Commenting further on Trump’s cuts to the refugee resettlement program, Gomez and Dorsonville lamented that “while refugees will thankfully be allowed to seek refuge here in the United States in 2021, the low number of admissions, given the global need and the capacity and wealth of the United States, is heartbreaking”.

The two bishops exhorted Congress “to seriously examine the Administration’s proposal”, and “strongly encourage[d] the President to increase” the number of refugees permitted to enter the US.

“Welcoming refugees is an act of love and hope. By helping to resettle the most vulnerable, we are living out our Christian faith as Jesus has challenged us to do”, Bishops Gomez and Dorsonville reminded Trump.

“Five years ago, on his apostolic visit to the U.S., our Holy Father, Pope Francis addressed Congress noting:  ‘Let us remember the Golden Rule: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’… The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us.’

“In the same spirit, we urge the Administration to continue to offer welcome to refugees to our country. We can and must lead by example in the defense of all human life, including those fleeing persecution”, the bishops concluded.

– A plea to lawmakers to “prioritize reform” of “broken” immigration system

At the end of last month, Bishops Gomez and Dorsonville also celebrated the 15th anniversary of the Justice for Immigrants (JFI) initiative, the USCCB’s effort to coordinate and enhance Catholic campaigns for the humane treatment of immigrants and refugees and for immigration reform.

While the bishops hailed the “amazing accomplishments” of Catholic organizations in these 15 years “to welcome, protect, promote, and integrate immigrants and refugees”, they noted that the work needed to guarantee the humane treatment of immigrants “is far from done”.

“The Church redoubles its commitment to the Justice for Immigrants initiative and to recognizing the human dignity and rights of immigrants and refugees and the promotion of legalization and legislative reform”, Gomez and Dorsonville wrote.

“Our efforts are rooted in the Gospel and the need to recognize the face of Jesus in every person”, the bishops insisted.

“Because of this, we will continue our work to educate Catholics about the Church’s teaching on promoting the human dignity of every person, including the immigrant and the refugee.

“We will also continue to encourage lawmakers and community leaders to prioritize reform of our broken system and to avoid politicization of our immigrant and refugee brothers and sisters”, Gomez and Dorsonville promised.

More stories on Novena on the US Church:

On COVID-19 relief, US Catholic leaders tell Trump, Congress: Put aside partisan politics and help those in need

US Bishops tell Congress: “Immigrants and refugees are a blessing to our country”

Pax Christi urges ‘seamless garment’ approach to US presidential vote, focus on issues as “equally sacred” as opposition to abortion

Catholic groups remind Trump “refugees have been on the frontlines” fighting COVID, urge “return to historic norms” in resettlement intake

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Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.