As the federal government makes enormous cuts to U.S. refugee admissions numbers and funding for refugee resettlement agencies (read our Director Kelsey’s rundown of the current state of affairs here), it’s time to mobilize and take action. Here are 5 things you can do to take actions for refugees:
Learn the facts
A lack of education regarding the differences between migrant groups, the system, and the laws has muddled the ability to speak articulately about this issue and promote meaningful change. Follow these recommended organizations through social media and get informed:
- RAIN International
- Refugees Deeply
- IRIN News
- Migration Policy Network
- Displaced – Podcast
- Oxford Forced Migration Review
- USCIS website (for US policy updates)
Have personal and professional courage
Now is the time to challenge dangerous narratives about migrant and refugees. Don’t let those dinner table comments slide by anymore—your voice as an ally and educator is needed more than ever. When we fail to confront bias, we perpetuate it. This applies on the professional front as well encourage your company or organization to take a stand, as many of the largest and most successful companies have (think Chobani, Starbucks, Ikea and many others). Economic pressure is often the only tool we have to drive policy changes.
Though much of the impact on refugees and migrants is being controlled on a federal level, there is plenty you can do locally to push your city, county, or state government towards supporting migrant populations. Call your state legislators and let them know supporting refugees and migrants are a priority to the public. Many states have passed sanctuary laws, created funds for universal representation, and have passed or are presenting bills through state legislature to support refugees, including setting aside state funds for ongoing case management support. This allows for more local control and funding over how refugees are supported to not be so dependent on federal funds. Contact your local resettlement agency and ask how you can help support these initiatives. You can also write an op-ed for your local paper, support local candidates who support refugees, or run as a candidate yourself.
Immigration policies are federal policies, and for true impact, contact your leaders and let them know your priorities. Set up postcard parties to write to the Department of Homeland Security, to the Department of Justice, and to the Office of Refugee Resettlement directly. And of course, it goes without saying, VOTE in your next election!
Don’t give up hope
Above all else, stay positive and rest when you need to. Don’t become so fatigued by the endless bad news cycle that you shut down and become complacent. Find little ways to get your energy, find peace, then get back in the game. Remember this is a moment in history, and when we look back, we all should be confident that we did everything we could in the midst of it.