This Wednesday, on World Refugee Day, Catholic Terps take the opportunity with their fellow Catholics around the world to reflect on the call to welcome strangers and love our neighbors (Mark 12:31). As Catholics, we are proud to demonstrate these values that are rooted in scripture and Catholic social teaching. Because of these beliefs, we are deeply disturbed by recent anti-refugee sentiment espoused by some United States policymakers, which sends an unwelcoming and mean-spirited message of exclusion to refugee families who are fleeing violence and persecution.
Last year's executive order to reduce refugee resettlement opposes our beliefs as people of faith. Refugees are some of the most scrutinized individuals entering the United States, participating in a lengthy vetting process through both the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the U.S. State Department. Rather than viewing these individuals as security threats to our community, we should realize with compassion that they flee unimaginable circumstances in their home countries.
An early book of the Bible recounts how our faith encourages us to show mercy and hospitality to those fleeing persecution: "And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt" (Deuteronomy 10:19). As Americans, we live in a country built in part by the hard work, dreams and determination of generations of immigrants and refugees — many of whom were our ancestors. It seems some of our policymakers have forgotten this and have acted with fear instead of compassion.
Refugees are mothers, fathers and children. Some are business owners, doctors, lawyers, musicians and teachers. As the world searches for solutions to the problem of over 25 million refugees worldwide — the largest displacement crisis in history — we reflect on the words of Pope Francis: "We have a duty toward our brothers and sisters who, for various reasons, have been forced to leave their homeland: a duty of justice, of civility and of solidarity."
On World Refugee Day, we remember the words of Jesus Himself, in the Gospel of Matthew: "For I was a stranger, and you welcomed me" (Matthew 25:35). Catholic Terps stand in solidarity with refugees throughout the world and call on our lawmakers to work toward solutions that welcome refugees.
The Catholic Student Center is a community of Catholic students at the University of Maryland. They can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.