PA bishops back refugee resettlement program

Monday, August 05, 2019 - Updated: 11:18 am

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania’s Catholic bishops are asking the Trump administration to maintain and even possibly expand the U.S. refugee resettlement program.

Eric Failing, executive director of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, which represents the bishops across the state, sent a letter to President Trump July 29 in response to reports that the president is considering curtailing or even eliminating the program. The letter asked that it be maintained at current levels, but Failing also said that the bishops believe the resettlement program should be restored to previous historic norms of 95,000 refugees per year.

“Refugees fleeing persecution overseas go through extensive background checks and health screenings,” Failing wrote. “This lengthy process can take two years or more to complete. Research, such as that done by the CATO Institute, has consistently found that refugees are neither a security risk nor a financial burden to the U.S. or to the local economies.”

A refugee is a person who has fled his or her country of origin and is afraid to return because of persecution on a variety of grounds that include race and religion.

Many Catholic charities in Pennsylvania begin working with refugees as soon as they are scheduled to arrive in America. Failing cited a typical refugee service that operates out of Harrisburg. It finds the refugees a safe home priced within the family’s budget, then furnishes the home and puts food in the refrigerator. The service then helps the refugees get jobs and find child care.

“It is incumbent upon us who are blessed with countless gifts and opportunities in the United States to care for our least fortunate brothers and sisters elsewhere,” Failing said to conclude his letter. “Let us not forget the words of our Savior when he told us, ‘Whatever you did not do for one of these least brothers of mine, you did not do for me’ (Matthew 25:40).”

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