By Alin K. Gregorian
BOSTON — While the fates of many US-bound refugees from war-torn and desperate nations around the world are still up in the air, many American — including Armenian-American — religious officials have expressed their stern opposition to recent anti-immigrant decrees issued by President Donald Trump.
On January 27, Trump issued an executive order suspending the entry of all refugees to the US for 120 days, as well as halting admission of refugees from Syria indefinitely and barring entry for three months to residents from the predominantly Muslim countries of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.
Anthony Barsamian, the co-chair of the Armenian Assembly of America, in a carefully crafted statement said, “Our leadership has scheduled a meeting with the administration and State Department officials this week to express our concerns for Armenians who have valid visas and are awaiting entry to the United States. We will specifically advocate for Armenian and other refugees from Syria and Iraq who are in imminent danger and need to expeditiously depart conflict zones.”
However, in his role as president of the Massachusetts Council of Churches, he signed on to a joint letter sent by the Massachusetts Heads of Church on the Executive Action Suspending Refugee Resettlement.
The statement reads, in part, “We believe in the aspirations of our nation, a place where all people long to live in safety. We remember with horror our nation’s decision in 1939 to refuse the refugees on the MS St. Louis, a ship of German Jews, condemning many to death. Refugees invite our increased compassion, not our hardened hearts.”