Christian Aid Group World Relief Lays Off Staff Following Trump’s Executive Order On Refugees

World Relief Seattle receives refugees. (Photo courtesy of World Relief © Amanda Wingers)

World Relief has announced it will lay off more than 140 staff members and close five local offices as a “direct result” of President Trump’s order to more than halve the number of refugees resettled this year in the United States.

The Christian nonprofit is one of nine private agencies contracted with the U.S. government to resettle refugees.

“Our staff at each of these locations have served diligently and sacrificially — some of them for many years — and we are deeply saddened to have to make this difficult decision,” World Relief President Scott Arbeiter said in a written statement released Wednesday (Feb. 15).

The layoffs are a loss of “decades of organizational expertise and invaluable capacity to serve the world’s most vulnerable people,” Arbeiter said.

The cuts affect most of the organization’s local offices, as well as its home office, according to Matthew Soerens, U.S. director of church mobilization at World Relief.

Some staff were laid off before the announcement was made, Soerens told RNS. The rest of the layoffs and closures will happen “gradually” as World Relief is able to fulfill responsibilities to its recently resettled refugees and church partners.

The five local offices that will be closed are in Boise, Idaho; Columbus, Ohio; Miami; Nashville, Tenn.; and Glen Burnie, Md. Those offices had resettled more than 25,000 refugees total, according to the statement. They were chosen in part because other refugee resettlement agencies also are working nearby where the offices can refer people, Soerens said.

Last week, World Relief had brought together hundreds of prominent evangelicals from all 50 states to sign a letter to the president and vice president expressing their support for refugees.

Judges have blocked the administration from enforcing parts of Trump’s executive order, which was signed Jan. 27 and has been referred to as a “travel ban.”

One element of Trump’s ban that was blocked was the 120-day suspension of the refugee resettlement program, Soerens confirmed. Also blocked was the 90-day halt on anyone – including refugees – entering the country from seven predominantly Muslim countries and the indefinite ban on anyone entering the country from Syria.

But the order still effectively caps the number of refugees the U.S. will accept in 2017 at 50,000.

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SOURCE: Religion News Service