Advocates stress that U.S. has moral obligation to welcome refugees

People hold signs during a Jan. 31 protest at Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia. The group was protesting President Donald Trump's executive memorandum suspending admission of any refugees to the U.S. for 120 days and banning entry for 90 days of people from seven predominantly Muslim nations. - CNS photo | Zoey Maraist, Arlington Catholic Herlad

By Dennis Sadowski Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Leaders from six organizations want Americans and President Donald Trump to understand that refugees, especially those from war-torn Middle Eastern countries, are average people with careers, comfortable homes and loving families rather than see them as a monolithic threat to the United States.

Their appeal during a Feb. 1 news conference at Casa Italiana at Holy Rosary Church in Washington came as refugees continued to be denied entry into the U.S. nearly a week after Trump ordered a 120-day suspension of the U.S. refugee resettlement program.

Officials of Catholic Charities USA, Migration and Refugee Services of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc., Catholic Relief Services, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities and the Center for Migration Studies called on Trump to rescind his presidential memorandum implementing the suspension, saying the country has a moral obligation to welcome people fleeing for their lives.

They called the world’s refugee crisis a pro-life issue.

“One of the issues for many of us in this country is that we can’t imagine that the refugee is a person like ourselves, that many of the people that are now caught in camps or horrible situations are people like ourselves who woke up one morning and learned that everything they had was destroyed,” said Dominican Sister Donna Markham, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA.

“We all have to stop objectifying them. These are human beings like you and I,” she said, recalling the people in northern Iraq she recently contacted via online video communications.