US Refugee Agency Announces Layoffs and Closings in Wake of Executive Order


A Christian humanitarian group that works with the UN refugee program announced this week it will lay off more than 100 employees and shut down several offices because of President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration.

World Relief, an evangelical relief and development agency, said in a statement the layoffs and closings are "a direct result of the recent decision by the Trump Administration." The organization pointed to the president's January 27 executive order that limits the number of refugees allowed in the U.S.

Trump's order faces legal battles, but the courts have not dealt with the section that lowers the maximum number of refugees permitted in the country from 110,000 to 50,000.

Specifically, World Relief said it will lay off more than 140 staff members across the country and close offices in Boise, Idaho; Columbus, Ohio; Miami, Florida.; Nashville, Tennessee; and Glen Burnie, Maryland.

The agency said these offices have resettled more than 25,000 refugees over the last 40 years.

"It has been our great privilege to serve both local churches and resilient refugee and immigrant families in each of these communities," Scott Arbeiter, World Relief president, said in a statement. 

"Our staff at each of these locations have served diligently and sacrificially — some of them for many years — and we are deeply saddened to have to make this difficult decision," he continued.

"These staff members are also experts whose vast experience has brought an effectiveness and professionalism to their work," Arbeiter said.

World Relief is one of nine U.S. organizations that work with the U.N. Several have started multimillion-dollar fundraisers to offset anticipated losses from the cap on refugees, according to The Washington Post.

Under the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program, the costs of placing new refugees are covered through a combination of federal government funding and money that nonprofit agencies raise, The Post reported.

World Relief's latest available Internal Revenue Service filings show the agency, in 2015, received government grants amounting to around $42 million -- nearly 75 percent of World Relief's total revenue.

The president's executive order means refugee organizations like World Relief need to secure funds outside the government to support the budget normally covered by grants. 

"We fully intend to continue the critical work of resettling refugees and serving other immigrants in the communities where we serve throughout the United States," said Tim Breene, CEO of World Relief, in a statement. 

"The unfortunate truth is that given the unprecedented nature of the global refugee crisis, there are simply more people than ever that need our support and our compassion," he continued. 

"We are redoubling our efforts to find solutions to serve displaced peoples in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, and elsewhere around the globe," Breene said. 

"We urge the Trump administration to renew and reinvigorate efforts to work together with the global humanitarian community to meet this urgent crisis head on," he concluded.

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