Pennsylvania’s Catholic bishops are asking the Trump Administration to maintain and even possibly expand the U.S. refugee resettlement program. Recent news reports suggested the administration is considering curtailing or even eliminating the program.

A letter dated July 29 to President Donald Trump by Eric Failing, executive director of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference representing all the bishops in the state, asked that the program be maintained at current levels if not restored to previous historic norms of 95,000 refugees per year.


“Refugees fleeing persecution overseas go through extensive background checks and health screenings,” Failing wrote. “This lengthy process can take two years or more to complete. Research, such as that done by the Cato Institute, has consistently found that refugees are neither a security risk nor a financial burden to the U.S. or to the local economies.”

A refugee is a person who has fled their country of origin and is afraid to return because of persecution on a variety of grounds that include race and religion. Many Catholic charities in Pennsylvania begin working with refugees as soon as they are scheduled to arrive in America.

Failing cited a typical refugee service that operates out of Harrisburg. The organization helps a refugee family to find a safe home priced within the family’s budget, then furnishes the home and puts food in the refrigerator. The service then helps the refugees get jobs and find child care.

“It is incumbent upon us who are blessed with countless gifts and opportunities in the United States to care for our least fortunate brothers and sisters elsewhere,” Failing wrote. “Let us not forget the words of our Savior when he told us, ‘Whatever you did not do for one of these least brothers of mine, you did not do for me’ (Matthew 25:40).”