World Relief prepares to close five offices and lay off 140 staff in wake of Trump's refugee order

(Reuters/Brian Snyder)Opponents of U.S. President Donald Trump's executive order travel ban greet international travelers at Logan Airport in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. February 3, 2017.

A Christian organization that helps resettle refugees is preparing to close five of its offices and lay off 140 staff members as a result of President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration and refugees.

World Relief, which is one of nine private agencies contracted with the U.S. government to resettle refugees, announced on Wednesday that it will be closing the offices in Boise, Idaho; Columbus, Ohio; Miami, Florida; Nashville, Tennessee; and Glen Burnie, Maryland. In total, the five offices had resettled more than 25,000 refugees.

Matthew Soerens, U.S. director of church mobilization at World Relief, said that the offices were chosen in part because other refugee resettlement agencies are already working nearby.

He told Religion News Service that some of the staff have already been laid off before the announcement. The rest of the layoffs and closures will be implemented "gradually" as the organization continues to fulfill its responsibilities to recently resettled refugees and its church partners.

Last Week, World Relief brought together more than 500 evangelical leaders to sign an open letter decrying the executive order on refugees.

The order has been blocked by the Ninth Circuit Court, but it only suspends the 120-day ban on refugee resettlement. It still effectively limits the number of refugees that will be allowed to enter the U.S. in 2017 at 50,000. According to the New York Times, about 30,000 refugees have already been admitted for the fiscal year of 2017, which started in October.

World Relief had expected to resettle 11,000 refugees this year, but Soerens said that the number will likely drop to 5,000, most of whom have already been resettled.

The organization receives a $2,025 grant for each refugee it resettles from the U.S. State Department. Soerens said that World Relief is anticipating an increase in donations from churches and individuals, but the organization still needs to cut expenses.

In an interview with The Christian Post, Soerens said that the layoffs and office closures alone will not be enough to help the organization overcome the loss of revenue resulting from the new refugee limit.

"We have always received some of our support from the federal government but we have always received significant support from local churches and private individuals," he said. "Our ability to sustain our infrastructure for refugees is really going to have to rely more heavily on churches and individuals right now," he added.

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