Trump's Executive Order 2.0

On March 16th President Trump's revised executive order concerning immigration and refugee resettlement will go into effect. When the first executive order was signed I shared three perspectives that we need to keep in mind when considering this issue. Those principles are still applicable. However, this new order does make some changes, so here I want to briefly outline those changes, explain how refugees and resettlement agencies will continue to be affected, and review the ways that we can respond to Trump's executive order.

What's Different?

Beginning on March 16th, the executive order completely suspends refugee resettlement for 120 days. The setbacks and delays caused by the first order do not count toward this 120 day period. While travel from Syria (for refugees or others) has been halted, Syria is no longer singled out for indefinite suspension. If vetting processes are adjusted to President Trump's liking, there is a chance that Syrian refugees may be allowed to resettle in the US sooner rather than later at the end of the 120 day period.

Finally, and perhaps most significantly, Trump's executive order 2.0 removes the clauses that allowed refugees who were religious minorities in their home countries to be prioritized over others. The legal definition of a refugee bases refugee status on five different reasons for persecution. While religion is one of those five reasons, there is no hierarchy within the definition to imply that religious persecution is more serious than other forms of persecution. By removing the religious minority clause, the Trump administration should be able to avoid the law suits and legal challenges that plagued the first version.

How Will Refugees and Resettlement Agencies Be Affected?

Refugees will be affected in the exact same way as they were with the first executive order. Those who have been working through the vetting process will have the process put on hold. Some of the checks they have completed may expire during the 120 day waiting period, so they will have to go through them again. Those from countries like Syria that are on the list of six banned countries may be delayed for much longer than just four months. Exceptions to the 120 suspension will be made on a case-by-case basis for those who would experience "undue hardship" if not allowed into the US for four months. Specific examples are outlined in the revised executive order.

Many refugee resettlement agencies have been thrown into chaos since Trump's first executive order was signed. Since federal funding for these agencies is tied to the number of refugees they resettle each month, most are severely struggling to make ends meet. Resettlement agencies will have to spend the next four months soliciting funding from private donors so that they can effectively serve refugees once arrivals start to trickle in again. Staff members have been laid off and must look for employment elsewhere and in some locations entire offices have been closed.

How Should We Respond?

I outlined four ways to respond to Trump's executive order when it was first signed. I asked you to pray for refugees, resettlement agencies, and our government leaders. I asked you to consider giving financially to resettlement organizations that find themselves really struggling during this time. I urged you to reach out and welcome those refugees who have already been resettled in your communities. Many of them are frightened and worried that they might never be reunited with their family members who may still be overseas. Finally, I asked some of you to consider going to work in the places where the majority of refugees are. These ways to respond have not changed with the new executive order. Our responsibility to refugees remains the same. This revised executive order should simply serve as further motivation for us to welcome the strangers in our midst.

Further Reading

Read Trump's executive order 2.0 in its entirety here.

While it is unfortunate that the US is lowering the ceiling for refugee arrivals from 110,000 to 50,000, resettlement isn't the only way to help refugees. Read about even more effective ways to help, here.

Prayer is the first way that we should be responding to these policy changes concerning refugees. Enter your email address below to download 40 Days of Prayer for Refugees.