USA (MNN) — The United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case of President Trump’s travel ban in October. But until then, a limited version of the travel ban from six Muslim-majority countries has been reinstated.
The courts said refugees from banned countries — Somalia, Iran, Libya, Yemen, Sudan, and Syria — can still come if they have a “bona fide relationship with a person or entity” in the U.S.
Bethany Christian Services works with refugee and immigrant resettlement, and Bethany’s Kristine Van Noord says they hope to still bring over those individuals qualified for resettlement once they figure out what constitutes a “bona fide relationship”.
“What we do know is that immigrants who are coming who have a green card or have a visa and are connected to have a close familial relationship or are connected to an education or employer, then they are able to still come into the United States. So that’s this terminology of a bona fide relationship,” she explains.
“We are waiting for an understanding of the definition of ‘close familial relationship’, what exactly that relationship needs to be, and also of what a bona fide relationship or connection includes. Does that include the refugee resettlement agency that has already assured the case and is preparing for them to come, or does it not?”
(Photo courtesy of SAT-7 USA via Facebook)
One thing is for sure, the discussion is littered with controversy. Van Noord shares, “I think one of the concerns has been, ‘Is it possible to welcome refugees and also ensure national security?’ And we believe that it is possible. The top priority of the refugee resettlement program in the U.S. is security, and there is an extreme vetting process. At the same time, we can also offer a life-saving opportunity to refugees.”
In Bethany’s work, they emphasize the Church’s responsibility towards compassion, even as it’s balanced with wisdom. “All throughout God’ Word, He talks about welcoming the stranger and caring for the orphan and the widow. We believe, as it says in 2 Corinthians, that Christ’s love compels us, and we desperately want to share the love of Christ with these refugees that are coming. And we have local churches and community groups that are ready to welcome the refugees that we plan to welcome in July.”
It’s the cases of those refugees who were slated to arrive in July that Van Noord is worried about. She explains, “Those that we are welcoming in July are truly the most vulnerable, and we’re concerned that they may not be able to come in. They have major medical needs and we’re concerned that they may not be able to wait 120 days to be able to come into the United States.”
Right now, the best case scenario would be if refugees who have already been approved with major medical or safety concerns could apply for an exemption from the travel ban as well.
“We haven’t heard if that’s a possibility or not. When the executive orders first originally came out, they talked that it might be possible, especially for those with major medical or security concerns.”
(Photo courtesy of Open Doors USA)
For now? Van Noord says these refugees and immigrants could use the prayers of God’s people.
“Pray for our leaders and for our courts. Pray for the opportunity to be able to continue to be the hands and feet of Christ and welcome refugees. And what we’re really hoping is that our government will be able to come to a place where they feel very strong in the security screening process, but also can continue to offer welcome to refugees as we face the largest refugee crisis we’ve ever seen and give an opportunity for the Church to be able to respond in the midst of this crisis.”
If you’d like to learn more about Bethany’s refugee and immigrant resettlement program, click here! You can also contact Bethany here if your church or small group would like to get involved in welcoming the refugees who make it to the U.S.
“We see so many churches wanting to respond and share the love of Christ with refugees, and we really hope that that’s still possible. America has a beautiful history of welcoming refugees, and we definitely do not want to lose that.”