How Religious Communities Are Responding to the Refugee Crisis

November 12, 2018

According to UNHCR, the number of refugees in the world today is unprecedented: 25.4 million. However, less than 1 percent of these refugees are resettled in third countries. Earlier this year, the Trump administration announced that it would cap the number of refugees admitted to the United States at the lowest number in more than 38 years: 30,000. In 2017, the cap on admitted refugees was 45,000, but less than half that number—only 21,000—were resettled here. While religious leaders from many faiths have made public statements supporting refugees, not all of the public agrees. The Public Religion Research Group found that 31 percent of Americans favor passing a law that would prevent refugees from coming to the United States. Among Christians, 45 percent of white mainline Protestants, 44 percent of Catholics, and 44 percent of white evangelical Protestants support banning refugees, though only 37 percent of non-white Protestants felt similarly. Despite such attitudes, in the United States religious agencies have historically played a large role in welcoming and resettling refugees. Six of the nine refugee resettlement agencies that the State Department works with are faith-based, and the Catholic Church’s Migration and Refugee Services resettles about 30 percent of all refugees that arrive in the United States.

This week the Berkley Forum asks: What roles are religious communities playing today in responding to the refugee crisis and to the U.S. government’s decreased resettlement of refugees? What role should religious communities play going forward? What contributes to the divergent views on refugee resettlement held by religious leaders and religious community members more broadly? What lessons can the United States learn from Europe and elsewhere to promote the successful long-term integration of refugees and migrants, particularly at the local level? 


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Individuals holding "Migrants and Refugees Welcome Here" signs in the United Kingdom.