Refugee Resettlement Agency to Lay off 140 Staffers, Close 5 Locations Due to Trump Exec Order

AP Photo/Ronald Zak

An evangelical relief and development agency that works with the United Nations’ refugee program announced Wednesday that it will lay off 140 staff members and close five offices.

World Relief, which is one of the nine U.S. organizations that works with the UN, called the decision “a direct result of the recent decision by the Trump Administration,” citing President Trump’s executive order that capped the number of refugees allowed into the United States, the Washington Post reported.

The organization will close its offices in Boise, Idaho; Columbus, Ohio; Miami; Nashville; and Glen Burnie, Md. and lay off 20 percent of its 650 U.S.-based employees. It has 2,500 employees around the world.

Several of the nine resettlement agencies including World Relief have launched fundraisers to cover the unexpected losses they anticipate from the number of refugees admitted.

“It will impact all nine resettlement agencies, so the infrastructure for refugee resettlement in our country — built over decades, at least since the Refugee Act of 1980 — could be decimated,” Matthew Soerens of World Relief said.

The nonprofit agencies that participate in the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program are partially funded by the federal government in addition to their fundraising efforts. Most of the agencies are religious, such as World Relief and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

World Relief received about $42 million in government grants, which amounts to almost three-fourths of the ministry’s total revenue of $62 million, according to the latest IRS filings from the ministry.

Most federal funding for World Relief comes in a one-time, per-refugee grant of $2,025, most of which gets used for expenses such as rent for an apartment and a caseworker for newly arrived refugees during their first 90 days in the country, Soerens said.

Now, the organization has to use nongovernmental funding to make up the difference.

World Relief’s chief executive Tim Breene said the layoffs will impact staff that brought specific expertise to helping refugees, including the ability to speak uncommon languages.

“This represents a loss of more than 140 jobs — which by itself is deeply troubling — but also decades of organizational expertise and invaluable capacity to serve the world’s most vulnerable people,” Breene said.

The organization has made their disdain for Trump’s executive order known. World Relief brought together 100 evangelical pastors and leaders who normally don’t get involved in politics last week to buy an advertisement in the Washington Post that denounced Trump’s executive order.


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