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Relief Agency Says 'Material Support' Law Hurts Terror Victims

Contact: Jenny Hwang, World Relief, 443-451-1969


BALTIMORE, Sept. 13 /Standard Newswire/ -- A law designed to keep terrorists out of the United States is actually hurting victims of terrorism overseas, a relief agency said today.


The legal blunder prevents legitimate refugees from seeking asylum in the U.S., potentially leaving them at the mercy of their oppressors overseas, Baltimore-based World Relief reported.


The evangelical agency has asked the Bush administration to give attention to the problem, revolving around the issue of 'material support.' In a letter, prominent leaders of faith communities and individuals concerned with protecting victims of persecution stated that “refugees cannot become the unintended victims of the war against terrorism” and that “[the President’s] leadership is needed at this critical juncture so our country can be a place of freedom for those who are persecuted all over the world.”


The so-called ‘material support’ bar is designed to keep terrorists and their supporters out of the country, but has been applied to innocent victims of oppression. People who have been forced to cooperate with terrorists overseas -- or even those abused by a terrorist group -- have been found guilty of ‘supporting’ or ‘association with’ a terrorist organization and barred from the United States.


Terror victims who have been barred from entry into the United States include a Liberian woman who was raped by members of a rebel group, and a Colombian man who paid a ransom to a terrorist group for the release of his father.


Current interpretation of the law means that many victims of terrorism and persecution overseas cannot seek asylum in the U.S.


World Relief has voiced concern about persecuted Burmese Christians facing deportation from Malaysia. Because of the material support issue, they are currently unable to seek asylum in the U.S.


“These people need our immediate assistance to ensure their safety,” said World Relief’s Galen Carey in Malaysia.


As the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals in the U.S., World Relief has helped resettle over 200,000 refugees -- victims of war, terror and persecution -- in America.