World Relief, a multinational service organization that provides aid and resettlement support to refugees and vulnerable people, has announced that it will be shuttering its Nashville office as a result of the Trump administration’s decision to scale back the number of refugees admitted to the United States each year.
The announcement comes nearly a month after President Donald Trump signed an executive order Jan. 27 to ban refugees from Syria and lower the cap on refugee admittance. The total number allowed was more than halved, down to 50,000 from the 110,000 limit set by Barack Obama before his exit from office. The same executive order also put a temporary hold on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries like Iran, Iraq and Yemen.
World Relief indicated in the same announcement that they would be laying off more than 140 staff members nationwide and closing four other offices across the country in Idaho, Ohio, Florida and Maryland. All of these offices focus on refugee resettlement, and according to World Relief, they have collectively resettled over 250,000 refugees in the past four decades.
World Relief Nashville currently employs more than 30 individuals, including several former refugees, according to the organization’s website. In the fiscal year 2015, the office resettled more than 500 individuals hailing from 15 different countries, including Myanmar, Somalia, Congo and Iraq. They have offered resettlement services to refugees since 1987.
In a statement issued by World Relief CEO Tim Breene, he expressed both praise and remorse over the organization’s decision. “Our staff at each of these locations have served diligently and sacrificially – some of them for many years,” said Breene. “And we are deeply saddened to have to make this difficult decision.”
Breene remains optimistic about the direction of the organization and made clear that World Relief’s efforts will continue: “We fully intend to continue the critical work of resettling refugees and serving other immigrants.” However, the 'unprecedented nature of the global refugee crisis' is cause for alarm," says Breene, and today, “there are simply more people than ever that need our support and our compassion.”
Breene and the rest of World Relief are urging the Trump administration to reconsider the ramifications of the executive order and “renew and reinvigorate efforts to work together with the global humanitarian community."