Episcopal Migration Ministries’ director responds to travel ban’s ‘relationship’ stipulation

[Episcopal Migration Ministries] The Rev. E. Mark Stevenson, director of Episcopal Migration Ministries, issued the following statement June 30 in response to the “relationship” stipulation in the Trump administration’s executive order banning the entry of foreign nationals. 

A Response to the Administration’s Decision on Relationships
The Reverend Canon E. Mark Stevenson
Director, Episcopal Migration Ministries

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court issued a decision regarding the litigation around the president’s executive order banning entry into this country of certain foreign nationals and halting for a time the welcoming of refugees. The Court seemed to stake out a position that the president has the right to do these two things but that he has to take a number of things – particularly relationships – into account when implementing policy. I wrote at the time that we would need to wait for the logistics to be sorted. Little did I expect that the sorting would become a tool to tear apart relationships, and to further propagate a false narrative about people who have fled violence and persecution.

The Court set as a standard regarding allowable entry the idea of the need for an existing bona fide relationship already within the U.S. They gave the obvious example of family, but also cited relationships with entities that are formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course of events. While I may disagree with their decision in other parts, I did at least take comfort in knowing that the highest court in the land recognized that there are real people, real lives, real relationships at stake here.

At the core of my Christian faith is the concept that relationships matter. I understand that God is perfect relationship, a Trinity of Persons. I understand that because we human beings fail in our relationships with each other and with God, God takes the steps necessary to repair those relationships and calls us to do the same. Our creator goes so far as to take on flesh in the person of Jesus to give us an example of how to treat each other; of how to sacrifice for each other; and most importantly, how to love each other no matter what. Yes, relationships matter.

We have come to learn in the past day that the administration has chosen to recognize a different standard. No less than the U.S. government itself has an existing, formal, documented relationship with thousands upon thousands of refugees who have already undergone extensive vetting to come to our shores, vetting far more thorough and extreme than faced by any other group or individual. Having passed that vetting, these refugees were given assurances of being welcomed by resettlement agencies to a new life. And yet, the administration has said that this relationship does not matter, that the word given by our government does not matter.

The administration has also decided that the relationships of grandparents and grandchildren do not matter. I have grandchildren. No one can tell me that those relationships do not matter. If you never believe anything else that I say, believe me in this – if they were in harm’s way I would move mountains to save them.

The administration has chosen an overly restrictive path that lacks compassion and disregards relationships. It need not have done so.


  1. Pjcabbiness says:

    The Trump Administration is making sound, thoughtful choices in regard to immigration policy. These choices are designed to protect our children and grandchildren. It is time to refrain from the consumption of progressive intellectual and theological “Kool-Aid”.

  2. Roberta Kelm says:

    In many cultures, grandparents are an integral part of family life. Often they take on parenting roles, freeing both parents to work outside the home to support the family. And in the case of a parent who has lost a spouse due to either illness or the violence the family is fleeing, that grandparent might be vital. If the person can pass the vetting procedures (which are pretty strict), I see no reason why they should not be admitted.

  3. Tony Oberdorfer says:

    Given the extreme leftwing political complexion of today’s Episcopal Church, it was perhaps inevitable that the Director of Episcopal Migration Ministries would issue such a statement. But he conveniently overlooks a few facts that make his argument almost irrelevant.

    The United States is not a social welfare organization and the Episcopal Church wasn’t either until it rather recently redefined itself. We know that Islam itself is as much a political movement as a religion and that given the apparent Islamic belief that the only good Christian is a dead one there is no reason for Episcopalians to treat Islam as a normal religion. That means that even the most “extreme vetting” of Islamic refugees is no guarantee that those who “passed” or their children won’t commit the same kind of terrorist acts that have plagued us and the rest of the world in recent years. Sad experience tells us this and suggests that in our own interest various bans on immigration are amply justified even if they hurt a good many innocent Muslim grandparents in the process.

    If politicized Episcopalian do-gooders weren’t constantly trying to interfere with the government’s legitimate effort to block those with potential malevolent intentions from entering the country, then the public might truly have less to worry about. The recent immigration hysteria, of course, is part of an aggressive and often vicious campaign to undercut President Trump’s authority to the point that his presidency cannot continue. The Episcopal Church should be ashamed of itself for being part of that effort.

  4. I’m a Grandfather as well, and I also love my grandchild ever so dearly. But when you qualify an adult you can’t include every possible relative possible. There has to be some cut off or the number of immigrants will explode exponentially. Thereby limiting the number of other valid immigrants. In a perfect world we should feed every child in the world, shelter every child in the world, provide medical treatment to every child in the world. But we can’t- we can continue to feed the poor, run America ‘s dozens and dozens of programs providing service in their countries, and help them take care of themselves. Right now a lot of refugees are really just economically needy victims.

  5. Bill Louis says:

    The Episcopal Church, at least the governing body of the church has become a tax free political advocacy group under the guise of religion. It is staffed with Globalists, Progressives and Leftists who fill vacancies with those who think the same way they do. As long as we continue to fund them through our contributions this will never stop. If you have truely had enough then find a way to support your local church and community without paying tribute to the Dioceses,

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