Refugee Ministries Hope to Rebuild Under Biden


After drastic cuts over the past four years, they need to rally partners and volunteers to be ready for a jump in refugee admittance.

After President-elect Joe Biden reiterated his pledge to raise the refugee ceiling to 125,000, resettlement agencies are making plans to restore their efforts to “welcome the stranger.”

Under the Trump administration, the refugee ceiling dropped by 80 percent, down to a record low of 15,000, and agencies drastically scaled back operations as they lost out on the funding that accompanies new refugees.

Biden’s remarks come as exciting news to Christians working in refugee resettlement, though the prospect of an influx of refugeest to the US poses a challenge to the system after four years of decline.

“We’re encouraged by President-elect Biden’s ambitious commitment to refugee resettlement,” said Scott Arbeiter, president of World Relief, one of nine nongovernmental organizations resettling refugees in the US. “I appreciate the message this commitment sends to the world—that the US is ready to lead once again—and we at World Relief will be working with our church partners to prepare to welcome as many as we can in 2021 and, hopefully, continue to grow that effort in the years that follow.”

After years of growth, the evangelical agency shut down eight of its local offices and laid off over a third of its staff during the Trump administration. Overall, a third of the nation’s resettlement agencies have either stopped resettling refugees or have closed their doors completely over the past four years.

“To be sure, returning to such a high level of resettlement after several years of historic lows will be very challenging, particularly because the national infrastructure for resettlement has been dramatically reduced,” Arbeiter says.

Now, there aren’t …

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