Refugee Community Advocacy Month will take place from August 1st – September 3rd this year
Download Toolkit Here
The Power of Advocacy: Refugee Community Advocacy Month
Building Power for Refugee Resettlement
A good time to meet with your Members of Congress and/or their staff is during Congressional recesses when they are in their state and local offices to meet with constituents. Schedules fill up very quickly for these recess periods, so reach out to set up a meeting as soon as possible.
Who You Are. Why You Care. What You Want.
It is more important than ever to meet with your local, state, and national policy makers to educate them about the vital role that refugees and all newcomers play in your communities. Because change takes time, meetings with policy makers should be viewed as part of a continuing process of gathering and sharing information, building relationships, and developing and carrying out advocacy strategies.
Be an Advocate
Developing relationships with, and educating policy makers is necessary if we want to see welcoming policies and attitudes towards refugees. A powerful constituent visit involves impacted communities and allies who join together. Having a team of refugee leaders, resettlement staff, volunteers, employers, faith groups, and other community members who meet regularly is essential in building meaningful relationships with policy makers. It is important that policy makers understand that their constituents care about refugees, and that refugees are their constituents — they live, work, and contribute in their communities, obtain U.S. citizenship, and vote.
Your Voice Matters
Your story as a refugee, staff member, or supporter of refugee resettlement is your most important qualification as an advocate. Talk about the way your community welcomes refugees and the positive contributions refugees make to your community. Refugees, resettlement staff, faith leaders, employers, military veterans, and supportive community members are constituents. Tell policy makers that you care about refugees and they will increasingly vote to support refugee protection and resettlement.
Engaging National and State Elected Leaders
At the national and state levels, individuals who oppose refugee resettlement are making their voices heard loudly and frequently to policy makers. These groups utilize anti-refugee, anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim rhetoric and draft legislation to engender fear and foster hostile atmospheres for newcomers. More than 80 bills have been introduced in the last couple years that would dismantle or significantly damage the U.S. refugee resettlement program. In 2018, we faced 14 anti-refugee bills in 11 states and 10 anti-refugee/anti-immigrant bills in 6 states, as well as 11 pro-refugee bills in 6 states and 67 pro-refugee/pro-immigrant bills in 20 states. If we want policy makers to support positive legislation and oppose proposals that would turn our backs on refugees and violate our values of welcome and hospitality, then they need to hear from refugees and supportive community members.
Engaging Local Policy Makers
It is critical for local policy makers to hear from us and affirm that they welcome refugees. There are positive proposals that local elected officials can adopt to affirm the importance of resettlement and foster communities of welcome. City, municipal, and other local councils and commissions need to hear that their communities stand ready to help refugees integrate and thrive. Urge your local leaders to adopt welcoming resolutions that extend hospitality to refugees and all newcomers. Click here for to see a framework one community developed to assess itself and facilitate welcome and inclusiveness of refugees and immigrants.
You can also take action by organizing or joining LOCAL CONGRESSIONAL VISITS TO SUPPORT REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT!
Click HERE to learn more!
- RCUSA refugee 101 backgrounder
- RCUSA background on the security screening process
- Refugee Resettlement State Profiles
- Letters and articles, national and state-by-state, demonstrating welcome for refugees
- Letter from former Secretaries of the Department of Homeland Security
- Letter to Congress from 20 Former National Security Officials
- Former U.S. Officials Sign Letter to President Trump Rejecting Revised Refugee Ban Executive Order
- Letter signed by more than 5,000 faith leaders affirming welcome for refugees
- 4,000 Catholic priests, religious brothers and sisters, and deacons continue broad support for refugee resettlement program
- Top evangelical leaders from all 50 states call on President Trump and Vice President Pence to support refugees
- Over 1,900 Rabbis support welcoming refugees
- 80 CEOs and business leaders across 12 industries call on President Trump to uphold refugee and immigration policies that affirm the equal opportunity of the American Dream
- 1,000 health care professionals sign letter to President Trump affirming support for refugees and resettlement
- Quotes from faith leaders in opposition to refugee executive order
- Stories of refugees impacted, including responses to the announcement from Syrian, Iraqi, Cambodian, and Bhutanese refugees.
Share This Message with Your State and Local Officials
Your state and local leaders need to hear the same message too. Tell them that your community opposed this announcement and welcomes refugees. To find your governor, state legislators, mayor, and local officials, click here: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials. To tweet your state and local officials, click to find the twitter handles for your governor and state legislators.