Media CenterCRS Welcomes Court's Block of Refugee Ban; Calls for More Humane Approach

Photo by Kira Horvath for CRS

You are here


Nikki Gamer
Catholic Relief Services
(443) 955- 7125

En español


BALTIMORE, MD, UPDATED February 11, 2017 -- Catholic Relief Services (CRS) welcomes the decision of the 9th Circuit Court blocking implementation of the January 27 Executive Order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States," but cautions that much more must be done to give refugees and immigrants the safety and dignity they deserve.

“This is a just a temporary restraining order,” Bill O’Keefe, vice president for Advocacy at CRS, said. “We do not know what will happen from here. The court may or may not rule to make it permanent. Or that might require further actions by Congress, or a change in heart by the Executive Branch. However it happens, we must continue to work to see that those in need are welcomed here.”

O’Keefe noted that the court’s ruling did not deal with an aspect of the Executive Order limiting the number of refugees admitted to the United States to 50,000.

“That must be changed,” he said. “We should return to the previous number of 110,000. The United States must accept its fair share of the most vulnerable refugees, while continuing its bipartisan tradition of providing generous humanitarian and development assistance to refugees overseas.”

As an international humanitarian and development agency responding to the needs of vulnerable refugees, we know that further restricting the ability of those fleeing violence to reach safety will jeopardize the lives of innocent people and call into question the fundamental values of our country.

"The simple fact is that returning refugees can have life or death consequences," stated Sean Callahan, president & CEO of Catholic Relief Services. "We see this from experience working with them in some of the most dangerous places."

Even though the court has ordered it not to be implemented, the Executive Order has sown fear and confusion, both among those seeking to enter the country and those trying to enforce the new rules. The government should undertake any review of security measures without disrupting ongoing refugee resettlement and immigration.

“Our elected officials have an obligation to protect the security of the American people, and we should all take such concerns seriously. But denying entry to the most vulnerable people is not the answer,” Callahan said.  Current vetting processes for refugees are already extreme. Refugees are more thoroughly vetted than any other type of entrant to the United States.  

Those coming here are fleeing violence and terrorism in their home countries. With more than 21 million refugees around the world, humanitarians are struggling to respond to the significant needs of forcibly displaced people. The United States should continue to be a beacon of liberty and hope by reinstating the goal of admitting 110,000 of the most vulnerable refugees in fiscal 2017.

"The generosity of our allies overseas is incredible; we owe it to the victims, our allies, and ourselves to continue resettling the most vulnerable refugees at the robust levels originally planned," continued Callahan.

Traditionally, the United States prioritizes the most vulnerable refugees for resettlement; religious minority status is already one of the factors that comprises vulnerability. Further prioritizing members of religious minorities are inconsistent with our values as a nation and might put those religious minorities at greater risk in their countries of origin.   

"Our Christian faith calls on us to serve people based on need, not creed.  We are called to welcome the stranger.  This is a time for the United States to be the Good Samaritan," Callahan said. 

The Catholic Church has, for generations, made assistance to refugees overseas and here in the United States a priority.  CRS was founded more than 70 years ago to assist refugees fleeing World War II.

"Refugees often become the proudest Americans; they don't take for granted what it means to live in freedom," asserted Callahan. “And Americans who welcome them feel pride in their ability to welcome those in need. In fact, most of those coming are women and children who have suffered unspeakable horrors."

“We join the many Catholic voices around the country – and the world – calling for actions based on our moral obligations. But this is not just a Catholic message; this is an American message. We should be sending this message to those in need around the world. Welcoming those in need is part of America’s DNA.”

As a Catholic agency founded on the social and moral teachings of the Church, CRS echoes the Holy Father, who said, "there must be no family without a home, no refugee without a welcome, no person without dignity."

“Protecting America means protecting the moral values embedded in our foundation. These values make our nation great. We must ensure that they are never eroded.” Callahan said. 


Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, please visit or and follow CRS on social media: Facebook@CatholicRelief@CRSnewsYouTubeInstagram and Pinterest.


Nikki Gamer

Media Relations Manager

Nikki Gamer
February 11, 2017

Based in Baltimore, MD

Nikki is the Media Relations Manager for CRS and connects journalists to regional stories and sources related to the agency’s life-saving development work. Previously, Nikki worked as the Communications Officer for the Middle East, Europe, and Central Asia. She has covered CRS’ response to the Syrian refugee crisis and the mass displacement of...More