Sunday, March 5, 2017

Refugee Services

A friend pointed out to me last week that our Facebook page had been heavily filled with refugee services for the last couple weeks, and what was up with that. That is true and it is as it should be. LSC and I have posted a number of pictures of nursing home visits and other services, but refugees are the current hot topic.

LSC's refugee services is a relatively small program, about $2.5 million in our budget of about $130 million. But size doesn't matter when we stand up for what's right. There's a song about needing to stand up for something or you'll fall for anything.

Much like a big sister standing up for her little brother, LSC stands for and stands up for the people we serve--in every program. Today it's refugees, tomorrow it will be nursing home residents or foster children.

Refugee services has become a political issue; facts are irrelevant to red meat politics. That's a sad state of affairs, but one we have to address with steadfastness and facts. The truth is LSC has been resettling refugees in the Carolinas since 1979. We have resettled people from many different religions and from all parts of the world. And with no issues! Refugees coming to the United States are already "extreme vetted," including biometric screening, interrogation-style interviews with trained professionals, and years of waiting in refugee camps. That is extreme!

Much of the problem is education. Our refugees get lumped in with the refugee flood into Europe, which is the exact opposite: no vetting, no identification, just people walking right in to European countries. People also don't understand the concept of undocumented immigrants, often called illegal immigrants as compared to refugees. Again, they are sneaking in or overstaying visas. Refugees are officially invited in by the United States government after "extreme vetting," and after approval by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

LSC's refugee services will probably shrink for the next few years from a paltry 460 to an even smaller probably 250. The U.S. has decided to reduce the number of refugees admitted to the US from 110,000 to 50,000. LSC will continue to serve, and eventually politics will move on to other issues. In my opinion, the US should be resettling at least 200,000 refugees each year to participate as a humanitarian leader in the world. US leadership is needed now more that ever, as the world is in its largest crisis of displaced people in recorded history: 65 million displaced people, among them includes $21 million refugees worldwide.

Facts matter. LSC will continue to do this important work. Today refugees are front and center, tomorrow it will be another group of people. But always, LSC will fulfill its mission: Empowered by Christ, we walk together with all we serve!