We’ve heard plenty of horror stories over the past few days about Donald Trump’s executive order pausing entries into the US for nationals of seven high-risk nations, many of which could have been avoided with a little more planning and coordination within the administration. What do others living in these countries think about Trump and his new policy, especially those who have been the targets of terrorism and genocide? Catholic Archbishop Bashar Warda of Irbil tells Crux that Iraqi refugees see it a lot differently than we do — and wonder where the protesters were in 2014:
Everyone, including the administration, seems to agree that this should have been implemented with more clarity. There was much confusion about what the order meant and many people were very upset.
From my perspective in Iraq, I wonder why all of these protesters were not protesting in the streets when ISIS came to kill Christians and Yazidis and other minority groups. They were not protesting when the tens of thousands of displaced Christians my archdiocese has cared for since 2014 received no financial assistance from the U.S. government or the U.N. There were no protests when Syrian Christians were only let in at a rate that was 20 times less than the percentage of their population in Syria.
I do not understand why some Americans are now upset that the many minority communities that faced a horrible genocide will finally get a degree of priority in some manner.
That last part is aimed at Americans objecting to Trump’s plan to prioritize minority communities for expedited clearance — primarily Christians, but also Yazidis:
Most Americans have no concept of what it was like to live as a Yazidi or Christian or other minority as ISIS invaded. Our people had the option to flee, to convert, or to be killed, and many were killed in the most brutal ways imaginable. But there were none of these protests then of ISIS’s religious test.
Our people lost everything because of their faith – they were targeted for their faith, just like the Yazidis and others too. Now these protesters are saying that religion should not matter at all, even though someone was persecuted for their faith, even though persecution based on religion is one of the grounds for refugee status in the UN treaty on refugees.
I don’t want to pull any more from the Crux interview because of fair-use concerns, but be sure to read it all. I’ve interviewed Archbishop Warda at least once while guest-hosting at Relevant Radio, and he’s on the ground with the refugees. Warda would rather see an intervention from the West that allows refugees to go back to their original communities to live in peace through a restoration of justice in Nineveh, but Warda knows that many Christians from the region have simply had enough.
That’s not to say that Warda or the Catholic Church aren’t concerned about the temporary pause in refugee admissions from the seven countries. The Vatican has already communicated its “concern” over the issue through diplomatic channels, as well as the media:
The Vatican said Wednesday it is concerned about President Donald Trump’s executive order regarding refugees and immigration, its first public comment on the matter as impacts of the order continue to reverberate around the globe.
In an interview with an Italian Catholic television station, Vatican Deputy Secretary of State Archbishop Angelo Becciu said Trump’s action was against what the Catholic Church stood for.
“Certainly there is worry because we are messengers of another culture, of that openness,” Becciu said. “Pope Francis, in fact, insists on the ability to integrate those who arrive in our societies and cultures.”
That’s not surprising; care for refugees comes straight from the Gospel and other scripture. The Vatican exerts no small amount of effort on the global issues of refugee policy, not just in relation to the US, so the concern over a change of position was not just predictable but certain. Mix in the confusion in which the policy was initially implemented, and well, we’ve already seen what kinds of openings that provides in both the media and in diplomatic circles as well.
Still, just as the media coverage has largely missed that this is a limited and temporary change that should directly impact relatively few people — and that the refugee limits remain about what they had been previous to last year — it has also missed the perspective of people like Archbishop Warda. They want a generous policy toward refugees, as do most Americans, but they think we’re pretty late to the party, pal. And they’re right.
Addendum: The “concerns” over this policy would be something for an ambassador at the Vatican to explain and coordinate. Still putting the #Morrissey4Vatican hat in the ring … and, er, holding my breath on a response too.