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Finding creative ways to legally protect asylum seekers

We’ve reported at length in previous posts on the current administration’s targeted efforts to deter asylum seekers in the U.S. However, asylum seekers are not only facing critical challenges in this country. Many governments around the world are struggling with how to handle the increasing number of refugees and displaced people in need of a sanctuary.

The Netherlands has been dealing with an onslaught of asylum seekers in recent years. When one desperate Armenian family was recently denied refuge, the community took creative action to protect them—while still operating within the confines of the law.

The Tamrazyan family of five fled Armenia in 2010 and arrived in the Netherlands—where they applied for asylum. They have been living steadily in the country ever since, awaiting a decision on their application. Last month, the decision came back—denying them asylum and requiring them to leave the country immediately.

This is where the local community stepped in. There is a stipulation in Dutch law which states that police officers may not enter a church while a religious service is in process. The Bethal Church and Community Center took the Tamrazyan family in and has been conducting a non-stop church service ever since. Volunteer pastors and community members have joined in the effort to ensure the service does not stop. So far, it has been going on for over 800 hours.

A spokesperson for Bethal remarked that he was hopeful the situation would be resolved before Christmas. But regardless of the timeline, the church has vowed to keep the service going until the government declares the Tamrazyan family safe.

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