Many in our community are asking what they can do to better support refugees and immigrants at this time. It goes without saying that Refugee Transitions is mobilizing fast and working around the clock to assemble critical information to inform and help RT families. We’re extremely grateful for the enormous support we’ve received from volunteers, supporters, and RT friends. We want to share some ideas on how you can support newcomers today.
1. AGITATE AND ADVOCATE
California is fortunate to have state and local leaders who are ardent defenders of diversity and social justice. Call them, leave voicemails, mail letters, or visit their offices. Urge them to continue supporting refugee resettlement, Sanctuary City, and other policies that protect refugees and immigrants. They really do listen! Here is a list you can use:
- U.S. Senator Kamala Harris
- U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein
- Find your Representative
- Find your California legislators
- Mayors: Ed Lee (San Francisco), Libby Schaaf (Oakland), Sam Liccardo (San Jose)
The executive orders have triggered uncertainty within our communities. It is essential that affected newcomers understand their legal rights, receive the support, are connected with relevant and timely resources, and have ready access to information and means of communication. As we mobilize to meet these urgent needs, we are also also focused on continuing to provide safe spaces and as much normalcy as possible for newcomers working hard to become self-sufficient.
Here are ways you can help now:
+ Help RT raise $10,000 to support refugee & immigrant community leaders
RT identifies and provides formal training to refugee and immigrant community leaders (youth and adults), leveraging the incredible assets they bring to the U.S. and connecting them with our network of resources and supports. In turn, these community leaders help newer members of our communities navigate their way in the U.S. An immediate need is funding to support the work of these leaders. They provide an essential bridge to their communities, helping to ensure that all newcomers we work with know their rights and have access to vital resources.
Our community leaders help translate from/to Arabic, Pashto, Spanish, Chinese, Tigrinya, among other languages. They serve as cultural ambassadors and peer tutors. Your donation helps us provide stipends to these community leaders as well as fund training sessions and materials. HELP us compensate the efforts of these essential community leaders.
+ Help RT stock computer lab with at least 20 touchscreen notebooks so that everyone has access
Through our computer class in Oakland, RT students are gaining technology skills that help them access critical information in English and in their native languages. Thanks to this essential resource, they are learning their rights and communicating with loved ones back home. HELP us stock our computer lab with touchscreen notebooks so that everyone has access.
+ Help RT boost our capacity to train more volunteer tutors for new arrivals
Thanks to the support of 200+ wonderful volunteers, RT can provide individualized services to 1,800+ low-income newcomers each year. Incredibly, since January 27th, we received 100 new volunteer applications. Needless to say, our staff is working at maximum capacity to process new volunteers. Our onboarding process is rigorous. It is designed to ensure that by the time volunteers are matched with students, they are sufficiently well-trained. HELP us boost our capacity to train more volunteer tutors for newly arrived refugees and immigrants.
You can also help ease the financial burden for newcomer families, or help stock up a classroom, after-school program, or enrichment club with needed supplies. To see our specific needs and quantities, please visit our Amazon wishlist.
3. GET INVOLVED IN LOCAL & NATIONWIDE EFFORTS
+ Legal Assistance for Newcomers
- Learn about what organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) are doing to protect our freedoms in this critical time.
- If anyone you know is traveling and might be a target of the recent executive order, ask them for their flight information and confirm that they have arrived in the U.S. and made it out of the airport safely. For legal help, contact the local chapter of the ACLU.
- If you are a law student or a lawyer, check out the International Refugee Assistance Project to find out which airports need legal help.
- Refer attorneys who would like to offer their pro bono services to Equal Justice Law Center (San Francisco) and Centro Legal de la Raza (Oakland).
+ Rallies and Events
4. EQUIP YOURSELF WITH KNOWLEDGE
+ Bookmark these pages for refugee and immigrant facts and figures:
- Community resources to assist your newcomer friends
- U.S. refugee vetting: the most extensive in the world
- Who is being resettled here? Refugee backgrounders
- The worldwide forced migration crisis: Get the data!
- Fleeing gang violence and economic duress: Migrants from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador
- Myths about undocumented immigrants
- Unaccompanied minors from Central America
- The economic benefits of resettling refugees
- Refugees are the leaders of the future
5. RAISE AWARENESS, ENCOURAGE DISCUSSION & LISTEN
Share newcomer stories to encourage empathy, build solidarity, and challenge the dominant narrative about migration.
Share our new documentary, A Wish to Give Back: One Family's Journey to Community Leadership, with friends, family members, and your community. Check out our youth story project, Pursuing Dreams, or our cookbook, Between Meals. Consider hosting a solidarity event, and if you are a foodie, turn to Between Meals for a range of delicious authentic recipes that your friends will love. You can hold a fundraiser by making a meal from Between Meals and asking your friends to donate what they would typically spend on an evening out.
You will be inspired by the many rich contributions newcomers gift to our society--something we feel is so often overlooked. Follow RT on Facebook to to learn more, and share our posts when you find something that inspires you and lifts your spirit.