As a country built by immigrants it shocks me that the United States is backing away from refugee resettlement.
For Immediate Release
Refugee Resettlement is a Win for Refugees and for Host Countries
In a world where violence forces thousands of families to flee for their lives each day Refugee Awareness Month is the time to show that we stand with refugees. We honor the courage, strength and determination of women, men and children who have been forced to flee their homeland because of threat of persecution, war and violence.
The majority of refugees are women and children. My team and I work with dozens of refugees each month and the stories never get easier to hear. We hear horror stories of mothers fleeing in the middle of the night, to protect children from execution for their father’s political beliefs. We work with refugees who spent months walking in search of a safe place to stop after war took over towns and villages. And, we work with others who can’t return home because of a natural disaster.
The story of each refugee who came to the United States is different, but regardless of where they have come from, their stories share some common threads: Leaving with nothing but what they can carry, knowing they may never see their friends and family again, having no idea what their future holds and how the generosity of strangers forever change their lives.
No one wants to be a refugee, yet every four seconds someone is forced from their home. Today, there are over 65 million refugees in the world. Sadly, most wait an average of 17 years before they are resettled. Many refugees live on the streets, in parks or, if they are lucky, in a refugee camp. Imagine being a parent and knowing your child will never experience a normal childhood.
A few very lucky ones end up in resettlement programs in various countries, including here in the United States. When they get resettled, they don’t even get to choose which country to which they are moved. Refugees arrive in what is to be their new country with nothing; no money, no job and no family. Here in the U.S., resettlement programs normally provided a small apartment with the bare basics. No television, no computer, no internet and no microwave. Provisions are scarce. But the refugees that we are blessed to work with don’t complain. They are grateful to have running water, electricity, a safe place to sleep and most importantly, an opportunity to rebuild their lives.
They instantly begin searching for work. Most only have six-months to be totally self-sufficient and must begin repaying the plane fare they received through the program within eight months. Refugees are also required to apply for a Green Card within one year of arrival. They are grateful to be part of a community and work hard to be stand-up citizens who value education, contributing to society and giving back.
Refugee resettlement has long been recognized as a win for the host countries, as well as the refugees. The global need to resettle refugees is up 17 percent. As a country built by immigrants and abundantly blessed, it shocks me that the United States is backing away from refugee resettlement. This year the U.S. government has set the refugee admission ceiling at 30,000 – the lowest refugee resettlement ceiling in the nearly 40-year history of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.
Refugees don’t stand a chance without you. Will you join me in telling Congress and the Texas Legislature that you #StandWithRefugees by using the hashtag on your social media? Without you, refugees truly have no hope.
Editor’s Note: Manne Favor is the Executive Director of Justice For Our Neighbors Houston (JFON Houston), a Methodist Ministry dedicated to providing free and low-cost immigration legal services to refugees, asylum-seekers and immigrants.
Tina Bruno StanleyThe Texas Network of Justice For Our NeighborsCommunications Director210-559-5277communications@TexasJFON.org
Search Press Releases