Christian humanitarian organization World Relief is joining other Christian organizations in pushing back against President Donald Trump’s announcement that he plans to temporarily halt all immigration during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the New York Times, Trump has backed off his original intention to ban all immigration, but still seeks to unilaterally suspend the issuance of new green cards. World Relief called the proposed order “unacceptable.”
“Temporary travel restrictions are appropriate if driven by public health best practices,” World Relief President Scott Arbeiter wrote in a statement. “But as the country slowly emerges from the COVID-19 shutdown, we must not use the pandemic as a pretext to restrict legal immigration that is essential for rebuilding our economy and for reuniting families.”
Specifically, Arbeiter urged the White House to reopen the refugee resettlement program so that families can continue to be reunited. “We have long affirmed that families are the building blocks of society, and the current crisis has underscored for many Americans the importance of family,” he wrote. “Because the primary impact of this executive order is to restrict family-based immigration, it represents a new form of family separation, penalizing families that have already paid visa petition fees and waited for months, years or, in some cases, decades in our family reunification system. This is unacceptable.”
Many have questioned the motives behind Trump’s moves on immigration during the pandemic. The U.S. has far and away the most confirmed coronavirus cases in the world, and those granted immigration visas have always been required to undergo a test for any infectious diseases. While immigration to the U.S. slowed during the Spanish Flu in 1918, the U.S. didn’t close its borders.
“World Relief is supportive of the administration’s efforts to manage and prevent the further spread of COVID-19,” the statement concludes. “But urges the government to reconsider measures that contradict both public health advice and the principles on which the U.S. is formed.”