How to Help Refugees in a Post-Election U.S.

by Natalie Jacobs and Multifaith Alliance November 21, 2016


pana3There are currently 65.3 million displaced people in  the world. The United Nations High Commission on Refugees has labeled 21.3 million of those people refugees. While the Obama Administration exceeded its admittance targets for fiscal year 2016, the U.S. is well below the numbers of refugees admitted in Europe and elsewhere. With the election of Donald Trump and his promises to ban Muslims, and the talk of reviving registrations that were used in the World War II era, the fate of the thousands of refugees waiting in the UNHCR pipeline to resettle in the United States remains uncertain.

When the Washington, D.C.-based refugee advocacy group Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees was in San Diego late last week, they gave attendees to the University Club breakfast forum a packet of information. Included in the folders were outlines of various immigration-related bills currently up for consideration in this lame-duck Congressional session, as well as some information for people who are concerned about the status of refugees both in this country and hoping to come to this country in the next fiscal year.

For those who are keeping a close eye on this issue (as many in the Jewish community are), MFA’s “What you can do to help Syrian Refugees” resources list is a helpful tool. The San Diego Jewish Journal has been given permission to republish this list for local readers.

1.) Educate/Advocate:

  • Address the three great fears about Syrian refugees that can affect public opinion and impede sensible policies: economic impact, terrorism and Islamophobia
  • Use media to speak out against anti-refugee rhetoric, xenophobia, and Islamophobia. MFA has some suggestions on how to do that.
  • Consistent with national security and the goals of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to expedite resettlement and integrate a minimum of 130,000 Syrian refugees across the next two years, phone or email your members of Congress and tell them that you support resettlement and adequate funding for 65,000 Syrian refugees (half of the request), as the U.S. has historically done.
  • Promote community discussions and collective action to “welcome the stranger.”
  • Engage religious leaders to convene a multifaith dialogue on the refugee crisis and use their moral authority to urge acceptance and condemn hatred.

2.) Engage in U.S. Resettlement:

3.) Volunteer:

  • Mentor or volunteer to orient refugees to their new communities.
  • Use your personal and professional skills to address some of the greatest needs of Syrian refugees: language, legal aid, trauma counseling.
  • Encourage refugees to share their stories online by helping them set up a simple webpage or social media site.

4.) Donate: many organizations are putting out pleas for donations in this time of uncertainty. Find a local organization whose mission you support, ask questions about where your money will go, and donate something that makes sense for your — time, talent or treasure.

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