Refugee Transitions stands shoulder to shoulder with Muslims and other refugees who have been barred from entering the U.S., as well as immigrants forced to flee their countries due to war, violence, persecution, and/or extreme economic duress. We commend Madeleine Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State and a refugee herself, for proclaiming her intention to "stand ready" to register as Muslim if Donald Trump took executive action that affects immigrants traveling to the U.S.
"The growing cry to turn away people fleeing for their lives brings to mind the SS St. Louis, the ship of Jewish refugees turned away from Florida in 1939," wrote The Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank in 2015. But the story of U.S. refugee resettlement was not always this shameful. Since 1975, our country has welcomed more than 3 million refugees, not only saving them from brutal regimes but also inviting them to rebuild their lives and contribute to their full potential.
With 30 years of experience, Refugee Transitions has seen firsthand how extensive the admission and vetting process is for refugees. There is no evidence to suggest that the process is mired in failure. In fact, refugees are by far the most rigorously processed category of people seeking entry to the U.S. See our most recent film, A Wish to Give Back, about a refugee family from Burma--it took them 2 years to secure approval for resettlement. And refugees from Syria, Iraq, and other predominantly Muslim countries go through even more extensive screening.
At Refugee Transitions, we work with forced migrants who have experienced war, violence, persecution, and/or extreme economic duress. Many are survivors of some of the worst atrocities of the 21st century. But in spite of those challenges, our students inspire us every day with their courage, resilience, and fierce dedication to contributing to our shared communities. Furthermore, research has repeatedly shown that migrants benefit their new communities by starting businesses, paying taxes, supporting local businesses, and enriching our cultures.
We are honored that friends from Syria joined our community recently. We strongly urge the U.S. government to continue the Syrian resettlement program, and indeed, increase the number of those admitted from the 2016 count of 12,000+.
We stand by our conviction that refugees, asylees, and immigrants must be welcomed in our communities, and we invite you to stand with us!