A letter from Catholic Charities

Dear Friends:

All of us are keenly aware of the recent Executive Order (EO) signed by President Trump on January 27 that effectively suspends the entrance into our country of several categories of immigrants and indefinitely suspends the entrance of people from seven Muslim-majority countries. Circumstances surrounding the EO are changing day-by-day as advocacy groups, agencies, and organizations attempt to block the execution of the EO. Therefore, what is known today could change quickly.

This is what we know, so far. The EO does impact our Welcome Home Refugee Resettlement program for Northampton. The movement of all refugees is suspended for 120 days pending review of the US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) application and adjudication process. Specifically mentioned is the prohibition of the processing and arrivals of Syrian refugees until it has been determined that Syrian resettlement to the U.S. is in alignment with the best interests of the United States. In addition, the number of refugees admitted to the United States in FY2017 is reduced from 110,000 to 50,000.

To date, Catholic Charities has provided assurances (a process that verifies that we accept a refugee case for reception and placement) for 18 individuals. Five of the individuals are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, three individuals from Bhutan, three individuals from Iraq, and seven individuals from Syria. They will remain as our assigned cases in the interim 120 days, but will not be allowed entry during that period. We will not have access to R&P funding or the two case management assistance grants until such time as the resettlement process resumes. However, our staffing will remain and be sustained by Catholic Charities funds.

Aside from continuing to prepare for the eventual arrival of our refugee families, we are asking all to sustain the resistance and outcry against this suspension and its ill-conceived and uncompassionate provisions. Time can be the damper of public outrage. What begins as front-page headlines can all too soon be relegated to back page news. Make noise publicly. Please, also remember that there are other refugees from countries like the Congo, Burundi, Bhutan, Ukraine, Moldova, and Ethiopia have been swept into this suspension. Originating from countries that pose not "threat" to ours and already much ignored (some of whom have spent the longest time in refugee camps) they have again become the forgotten in this conversation. Write or call your representatives and senators, write the Supreme Court justices, sign on to national petitions that oppose the EO -- and keep it up until we see results.

This and future newsletters will include links and other aids to keep us informed and active in our advocacy efforts.

Kathryn Buckley-Brawner
Executive Director
Catholic Charities Agency