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Valley faith leaders speak out against President Trump’s refugee order

Faith leaders and other groups gathered at Grace Lutheran Church in Phoenix on Feb. 2, 2017, to denounce President Trump's executive order on refugee resettlement. (Photo by Corbin Carson/KTAR News)

PHOENIX — Faith leaders and other groups gathered at Grace Lutheran Church near downtown Phoenix to denounce President Donald Trump’s executive order on refugee resettlement.

“We want everyone to understand that refugees are the most thoroughly vetted group of people who ever come into the United States,” said Connie Phillips, President/CEO Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest.

We have been living with refugees in Arizona since the mid-seventies, said Phillips.

“We’ve been doing this program since 1975,” she said. “These are our neighbors.”

People who have perpetrated the recent terror attacks on American soil have been born here, she said, and they’re not refugees.

“People are afraid. I’m afraid. We’re all afraid of the terrorism that we’re hearing about all the time,” Phillips said.

But the process refugees go through has multiple and extensive layers of security checks, she said.

“That includes biographic and biometric checks, medical screenings, forensic document tests and interviews,” she said.  “It takes two years to get through the process.”

Even though Muslims are not part of Phillips’ faith, she said that doesn’t matter to her.

“As Christians, the Jewish culture, as people of faith; this is what we’re called to do,” she said. “Welcome those in need.”

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