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placeholder February 20, 2017   •   VOL. 55, NO. 4   •   Oakland, CA
CCEB continues to resettle refugees

The next refugees destined for resettlement by Catholic Charities of the East Bay were expected to arrive Feb. 20.

They will be the first scheduled arrivals since the president's executive order of Jan. 27, which threw the arrival of people from seven predominantly Muslim counties into question.

Since that time, the Ninth District has upheld a federal judge's ruling to lift the ban.

"We welcome the decision of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals," said Bishop Joe Vasquez, chair of the committee on migration of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"We respect the rule of law and the American judicial process," he said. "We remain steadfast in our commitment to resettling refugees and all those fleeing persecution. At this time, we remain particularly dedicated to ensuring that affected refugee and immigrant families are not separated and that they continue to be welcomed to our country. We will continue to welcome the newcomer as it is a vital part of our Catholic faith and an enduring element of our American values and tradition."

The previous week, Catholic Charities of the East Bay "welcomed two families from Afghanistan," said Mary Kuhn, communications director for the agency. "The latest was a family of five with three small children under age 10."

Afghanistan is not among the seven nations named by the president's order.

"Ninety percent of our cases over the past few months have been from Afghanistan, and are families threatened by death, kidnapping and violence because they supported the U.S. military," Kuhn said.

She said the agency has a number of pending cases not yet scheduled for arrival that would be affected by the proposed 120-day suspension of arrivals from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Catholic Charities works in resettling refugees who have been vetted by the U.S. State Department.

Last year, about half of the parishes in the Diocese of Oakland became involved in helping to resettle refugees.

Among the partnerships the Catholic bishops have forged to assist in refugee resettlement is one with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The gift of $1.25 million, announced last August, includes cash and donated food and goods. These will be used to directly assist newly arrived refugees in 80 affiliated diocesan resettlement offices throughout the United States.

In the Diocese of Oakland, this involved the donation of food and furniture to help prepare apartments for the refugees who will move into them.

Furniture from Deseret Industries and commodities from the Bishops' Storehouse were made available to refugee families, reported Marilyn Wright, director of refugee outreach.

"We want to help out and spread the love," she said in a video posted to Youtube. Volunteers helped out on Dec. 26. The video is at http://bit.ly/2l6iFKC.

The local groups' assistance may go beyond moving furniture and supplies, said Steve Mullin, parish engagement coordinator at Catholic Charities of the East Bay.

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