- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is calling on the Trump administration to back down on its threats to close off U.S. resettlement of refugees.

The commission “is alarmed by reports that the administration is preparing to significantly reduce, or even zero out, the number of refugees to be resettled to the United States in FY 2020,” commission President Tony Perkins said Tuesday in a written statement. “We strongly urge the administration to extended its admirable commitment to advancing religious freedom to its refugee resettlement policy.”

Mr. Perkins, a well-known Christian conservative and president of the Family Research Council, has been a vocal supporter of President Trump.

According to media reports, administration officials are meeting Tuesday to decide on how many refugees to resettle in the United States. The New York Times reported over the weekend that officials are seeking to slash 15,000 — or even all — refugees from the resettlement program.

The religious freedom commission said it has shared privately its concerns with the administration.

Commission Vice Chair Gayle Manchin said Tuesday that any number below 30,000 refugees — the current “historic low” of resettled religious minority refugees — would be an abandonment of U.S. values.

“Unprecedented numbers of individuals worldwide are forcibly displaced by religiously motivated conflict or persecution based on their religion or belief,” said Ms. Manchin, wife of Sen. Joe Manchin, West Virginia Democrat. “[A]nd the United States should continue to provide safe haven to the most vulnerable among them.”

Ms. Manchin said the annual number of resettled refugees should be at the “previously typical” 95,000.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom was established by Congress in 1998 and regularly reports to the president, the secretary of state and Congress on efforts to promote religious freedom around the world.

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