The potential impact of the temporary refugee ban in the USA

This last weekend saw a major kerfuffle in the USA: the administration instituted a 90-day ban on people from seven majority-Muslim nations entering the United States, which was greeted with dismay, anger and protests. I am not going to get political in this post; rather, I am here going to survey and consider the potential impact of the ban on ministry work.

  1. We need to keep in mind the ban is (at least currently) temporary. Further, it appears to be largely a political gesture to shore up the administration’s political base within the Republican Party. The ban was a core campaign promise that apparently the administration felt had to be moved on, and moved fast. A 90 day ban with a token review of procedures may very well suffice for the political side, and may be dropped afterward.
  2. Whether one agrees with the ban or not, it was unfortunately rolled out in a fairly slip-shod fashion, and impacted refugees, tourists, and legal permanent residents alike. The implementation was done poorly at the local level, with uncertainties about how to implement that led to bungling verging on refusals to honor court decrees. This will all (probably) be straightened out shortly, but it has riled emotions, led to protests, and likely polarized many in America over the issue of refugees even further.
  3. The entrance of foreigners into America isn’t the only thing affected. There are proposals to cut funding for refugee resettlement efforts. This will affect many working with refugees here in the USA, and could be a less-noticed limiter on the number of refugees who enter.
  4. In the long run, it’s possible the ban will chill and discourage the entrance of diaspora to the United States, impacting the potential of diaspora ministries here.
  5. It could also chill relationships with nations abroad. There are reports Iraq has already, in retaliation, blocked Americans from entering (including contractors and journalists). If this is confirmed, I know of people who were planning to volunteer with relief efforts in Iraq this summer who will not be able to go. Other nations may take this opportunity to block or deny visas as well.
  6. Ministries in some other nations may find their passports more welcome, and may find a renewed surge of refugees and diaspora. Canada is an example.

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