Yesterday, President Trump signed an executive order that will stop the U.S. from accepting Syrian refugees and limit the number of other refugees entering the country through a new process of “extreme vetting.” The countries affected are Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia, according to a White House official.
While this temporary ban on refugees from Muslim-majority countries has been initiated in the name of national security, it leads the way in promoting religious discrimination, favoring Christian refugees over Muslims, and reducing our country’s overall intake of refugees.
A professor at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis stated, “From a policy standpoint, it’s a terrible idea because there is such an urgent humanitarian need right now for refugees.” This order comes at a time where we are experiencing one of the largest global refugee crises with more people living as refugees than ever before and staying refugees for longer. The Syrian refugee crisis is the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world. Nearly 5 million Syrians have been forced to become refugees by the country’s civil war, with most of them now living in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan.
Previously in the U.S., refugees were evaluated on the basis of their humanitarian need, and we accepted refugees as an expression of universal human rights. Now, we are targeting people based on their religion, which is wrong and unconstitutional. Shutting the doors on some of the most vulnerable people in the world is an injustice we should all fight against.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has called this executive order “just a euphemism for discrimination against Muslims.” The Litigation Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has stated, “There is no evidence that refugees — the most thoroughly vetted of all people entering our nation — are a threat to national security. This is an order that is based on bigotry, not reality.”
What can you do to fight religious discrimination in your community? How can we as peacemakers strengthen tolerance and understanding when it comes to religion and refugees?