CLOSED DOORS: Persecuted Christians and the U.S. Refugee Processes

World Relief, a Christian humanitarian organization serving refugees and displaced people, and RLP member Open Doors USA, an international religious freedom watchdog group, published a joint report revealing a surprising 90% reduction since 2015 in the number of Christians resettled from countries where the church faces persecution. Resettlement for other religious minorities — Jewish refugees from Iran, Yezidi refugees from Iraq, Muslim refugees from Burma and others — are all also on track to end 2020 down more than 90% from 2015.

“As Christians, we’re concerned about the wellbeing of all people who have faced persecution, including the many who are persecuted for their Christian faith,” said Scott Arbeiter, president of World Relief. “While we can and should do all we can to advance religious liberty abroad, we must also continue to offer refuge to those who have felt they had no choice but to flee. We must not close our nation’s doors on the persecuted.”

These saddening numbers are the consequence of major changes to the USA’s historical approach to refugee resettlement. Last November, the refugee cap was reduced to 18,000 – the lowest level in U.S. history. Of these slots, 5,000 are reserved for those whose designation as a refugee is based on their religious tradition.

Data from prior years demonstrates that these policy changes do not result from a lack of administrative capacity. In 2015, the U.S. admitted more than 18,000 Christians from the 50 countries on the Open Doors USA 2020 World Watch List for the persecution of Christians. Midway through this year, we have admitted fewer than 950.

“The global reality is that more people than ever before are facing discrimination, violence, and even death because of their choice to practice their faith. Religious persecution is not an isolated problem: it overlaps with an array of issues that together impact Christians,” said David Curry, CEO of Open Doors USA.

Click here for a direct link to the Report.