Local pastor: Refugees are not asylum seekers

Federal judge temporarily blocks executive order regarding refugee resettlement

The Travis Park Church associate pastor is encouraged by a federal ruling blocking an executive order that allows cities and states to reject refugee resettlement.

SAN ANTONIO – Less than a week after Gov. Greg Abbott announced Texas would be the first state to reject the resettlement of refugees, a federal judge has temporarily blocked President Donald Trump’s executive order allowing state and local governments to do exactly that.

Gov. Greg Abbott, a Catholic, draws criticism over new refugee ban from Texas’ Catholic Bishops

Gavin Rogers, associate pastor of Travis Park Church, said he’s hopeful, but it’s important the courts understand refugees are not asylum seekers.

He said unlike asylum seekers, under the nation’s Refugee Resettlement Program, those applying in their home countries undergo a lengthy process of being vigorously vetted in their countries and by the U.S. State Department before being allowed to enter the United States.

Then, Rogers said, the refugees are matched with nonprofits, many of them faith-based, that help them make the transition once they arrive.

“The resettlement program is the best way you can possibly seek migration,” Rogers said.

However, under the Trump Administration, the number of refugees allowed to enter the U.S. has been steadily reduced down to 18,000 per year, the lowest level since the program began in 1980, Rogers said.

As a result, Rogers said many migrants who converged on the border last year had to apply for asylum because they couldn’t enter as refugees.

Rogers said by following the president’s executive order, Abbott “actually, potentially is going increase the chaos on the border.”

To those refugees who may feel unwelcome in their adopted country, Rogers said, “There are many Texans. Millions of Texas are still willing to support you and love you and care for you and help you walk in your new journey of life.”

About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

William Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.