Bishops reaffirm support for refugees as judges scrutinize Trump policy

The U.S. bishops welcomed a federal appeals court ruling that affirmed a legal injunction against a Trump administration executive order on refugee resettlement and travel bans targeting Muslim countries.

“We respect the rule of law and the American judicial process,” said Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin, Texas, speaking in his role as chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration.

“We remain steadfast in our commitment to resettling refugees and all those fleeing persecution,” Bishop Vazquez said Feb. 10. “At this time, we remain particularly dedicated to ensuring that affected refugee and immigrant families are not separated and that they continue to be welcomed to our country.”

“We will continue to welcome the newcomer as it is a vital part of our Catholic faith and an enduring element of our American values and tradition,” he added.

The three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, by a 3-0 vote on Feb. 9, upheld a lower court’s temporary restraining order against several provisions of an executive order on refugee resettlement.

The provisions under judicial scrutiny included a 120-day halt on U.S. refugee resettlement program; an indefinite ban on resettling Syrian refugees; and a 90-day prohibition on entry for individuals from seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

On Thursday, the panel said that the Trump administration did not present any evidence that any alien from the countries it named has carried out a terrorist attack in the U.S. It said the public has an interest in national security and the ability of a president to enact policies. It added that the public also has an interest “in free flow of travel, in avoiding separation of families, and in freedom from discrimination.”

President Trump had said the order would stop terrorists and allow federal agencies to develop stricter screening for those entering the country.

He pledged to fight the ruling in court, saying on Twitter “the security of our nation is at stake.”

The executive action said that priority will be given to “refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution” for members of minority faiths in the refugee’s country of origin.

While the order does not mention Christianity, Trump has told media outlets such as Christian Broadcasting News that the order would prioritize Christian refugees. (CNA)

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