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Church hails ruling on Trump’s ban

17 February 2017


Supporting refugees: the director of Episcopal Migration Ministries, the Revd Mark Stevenson, holds a sign listing the biblical imperatives on welcoming the stranger

Supporting refugees: the director of Episcopal Migration Ministries, the Revd Mark Stevenson, holds a sign listing the biblical imperatives on welcomi...

EPISCOPALIANS in the United States have welcomed a ruling by the federal appeals court that blocked the reinstatement of President Trump’s executive order on immigration, which includes a temporary ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries and suspends the refugee admissions programme (News, 3 February).

On Thursday of last week, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, upheld a ruling three days earlier, by a federal judge in Seattle, that temporarily blocked the ban. It was not yet clear on Wednesday whether the President would take the case to the Supreme Court.

On Monday, the ban faced another legal challenge when a district judge in Virginia ruled that it was unconstitutional, since it discriminated against Muslims.

The Episcopal diocese of Olympia, in Washington State, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington filed a separate lawsuit on Tuesday of last week against the federal government in response to the executive order. The diocese helps to co-ordinate the resettlement of 190 refugees each year, most of whom come from one of the seven Muslim-majority countries singled out in the executive order.

The Bishop of Olympia, the Rt Revd Greg Rickel, described the executive order as “a violation of the foundational principles of our nation. As a member of the Jesus movement, I believe the United States has a moral responsibility to receive and help resettle refugees from the more than 65 million people who have been displaced by war, violence, famine, and persecution. To turn these vulnerable people away and limit the flow of refugees into our country is to dishonor the One we serve.”

On Wednesday of last week, the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church granted $500,000 to Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM), “to bridge it financially” during the 120-day suspension of refugee resettlement imposed by President Trump’s executive order, the Episcopal News Service (ENS) reported.

The ENS report continued: “EMM needs the financial support from the Church-wide budget because the majority of its income comes from contracts with the federal government to cover the costs of resettling refugees approved for entry to the United States. The federal contract directly ties that money to refugees’ arrival. Thus, if refugees cannot enter the US, EMM does not receive money.”

Starr in the frame. President Trump is considering appointing Professor Ken Starr, the former president of Baylor University, in Texas, as head of the US State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom, reports last week suggest.

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