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Local faith-based organizations express concern over executive order on refugees

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SEATTLE — President Donald Trump’s executive order banning immigrants and refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries hasn’t just drawn criticism from those on the left but also traditionally conservative groups and organizations.

Several faith-based groups dedicated to helping refugees say this move goes against their very belief system of helping their neighbor.

“I’ve been working in this long enough to know that refugees have always been a nonpartisan issue,” said Beth Farmer with Lutheran Community Services Northwest. “People from all sides have always supported welcoming the stranger.”

Farmer said that’s not the case anymore, as she fears what Trump’s executive order will mean for their refugee and asylum programs moving forward.

“We know that they fled terrorism for safety and for them to be identified as terrorists or conflated with terrorism feels so unjust; it feels so wrong,” said Farmer.

Lutheran Community Services isn’t alone. Organizations like World Relief Seattle and World Vision are expressing similar concerns.

World Vision is among several humanitarian groups that sent Trump a letter expressing deep concern over the executive order on refugees.

“I think it’s a mistake to conflate Christian values with the support of the refugee ban or even conflate voting for Donald Trump with the refugee ban,” said Farmer.

So whether Christian or not, Farmer says, the recent executive order in her view is simply un-American.

“We always had strong support from religious communities; there’s a strong tradition,” said Farmer. “In many faiths, including the Christian faith, to welcome the stranger.”

Farmer said she and other staff were on the phone this weekend, talking to families who have waited up to eight years to be reunited with their families in the refugee resettlement program. Their trips for this week have now been canceled.