Minnesota’s Faith Leaders Organizing to Support Refugees, Decry New Executive Order, Urge Calls to Congress


MINNEAPOLIS, MINN – (March 6, 2017) – “We are still called by our sacred scriptures to welcome the stranger and support refugees,” said Rev. Canon Peg Chemberlin, CEO of the Minnesota Council of Churches (MCC), who made the following statement  in response to today’s revised executive order from President Trump.


Trump has rewritten his executive order to ban travelers from six Muslim-majority countries for 90 days; suspend refugee resettlement for 120 days; and drastically reduce the number of refugees the United States welcomes from 110,000 to 50,000, a deeply significant cut. Make no mistake—this new order is concocted to have the same impact as the original executive order while avoiding court proceedings.


By barring individuals from Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen, this rewritten executive order remains a Muslim ban. Banning refugees from all countries for 120 days will still grind refugee processing to a halt. Refugees are already the most thoroughly-vetted individuals in the United States, undergoing biographic and biometric checks, medical screenings, forensic document testing, and in-person interviews.


Each step of the process is time-sensitive. Any pause will cause checks to expire, forcing refugees already approved for entry to wait months and even years as they go through multiple security checks all over again and as their lives hang in the balance.


On January 30, when an historic assemblage of faith leaders from Minnesota’s Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Evangelical and Mainline Protestant faith communities came together to stand our ground against executive action targeting Muslims and curtailing refugee resettlement in the midst of another global crisis, they spoke passionately in support for refugees and people who are strangers in our land.


This ban was passed under the false pretense of keeping Americans safe, yet there have been no deaths in the United States from extremists with backgrounds in any of these six banned countries.


MCC Refugee Services

“There are direct impacts of this order on the families that MCC serves,” says MCC Director of Refugee Services Ben Walen.

  • Abdi, a Somali refugee who works at a turkey processing plant, eagerly awaits the arrival of his wife and four-year-old child.
  • Hawo, a Somali refugee living in a Minneapolis suburb, is scheduled to be reunited soon with her four children.
  • A Karen refugee family, Kyaw and Nah and their small children, hope to travel soon from a refugee camp in Thailand to Minnesota, to restart their lives here in the United States.

“These families, and many others who are in the final stages of refugee processing, will be indefinitely delayed by this executive order, as their background and security checks will likely expire during the 120-day resettlement suspension. Those from Somalia face an even more uncertain travel future, as their country—the country they had to flee due to persecution—is on the order’s list of banned countries.

Minnesota has long welcomed refugees, offering them safety, opportunity, and hope. In turn, refugees have enriched our communities, strengthened our economy, and connected us to the world. With the numbers of refugees worldwide at an all-time high, it is vital that our state and country continue to offer this welcome to refugees.”

Faith leaders to meet again

Top leaders of the faith communities who gathered to embrace Muslims and refugees January 30 have stayed in touch. They will meet soon to determine next steps in their support. They urge Minnesotans to oppose the order by calling their Senators and Representative at (202) 224-3121 and asking them to do everything in their power to see the executive order rescinded.


About Minnesota Council of Churches

The Minnesota Council of Churches’ mission is to manifest unity in the church and to build the common good in the world. The Minnesota Council of Churches programs align with three broad categories: welcoming refugees, mobilizing the faith community to engage in public policy, and strengthening communities through relationships and understanding.  For more information, visit www.mnchurches.org.

Note to media:

Find statements from major faith leaders, including the ones below, on the Minnesota Council of Churches website: https://is.gd/FaithLeaders. Press may call MCC for the contact information for any of these willing leaders.

  • Rabbi Morris Allen, Minnesota Rabbinical Association
  • The Most Reverend Bernard A. Hebda, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis
  • Imam Hassan Mohamud, Minnesota Da’Wah Institute in Saint Paul
  • Carl Nelson, President/CEO of Transform Minnesota, Executive Board Member of National Association of Evangelicals
  • Bishop Bruce Ough, Dakotas/Minnesota Episcopal Area of the United Methodist Church
  • Rev. Shari Prestemon, Conference Minister of Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ
  • Bishop Brian Prior, Episcopal Church of Minnesota
  • Bishop Ann Svennungsen, Minneapolis Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America
  • Imam Asad Zaman, Muslim American Society of Minnesota
  • Bob Oehrig, Executive Director of Arrive Ministries
  • Micaela Schuneman, Refugee Services Director of the International Institute of Minnesota
  • Imam Abdisalam Adam, Dar Al-Hijrah mosque in Minneapolis