refugee voices and community support
#RefugeesWelcome – because we are all #GreaterAs1
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Hear directly from refugees talking about the importance of refugee resettlement.
1,500 rabbis to sign onto a welcome statement for refugees
Rabbis call on our newly elected officials to keep America’s doors open to refugees. Learn more and read the letter here.
Welcoming Refugees — State by State Reference
Letters and articles, national and state-by-state, demonstrating welcome for refugees. Browse reference materials here.
Refugee Reactions to Trump Executive Orders on Immigration and Refugees
“It’s not by choice you become refugee,” said Dev Bhandari, a refugee from Bhutan. “We became refugees because we’re forcefully thrown out of the country just because we spoke a different language and believed in different God than the king. We didn’t have hope, we weren’t allowed to get a decent job because we didn’t have citizenship of any country, and opportunities were not even the part of conversation when we’re worried about next meal. The U.S. was the only country that healed our forgotten people. If the U.S stops the resettlement process, refugees will be devastated, because they’re living a miserable life in refugee camps and were dreaming of better future and a decent life here.”
“My cousin, Abdulkader, has been living with his wife and three beautiful children in a refugee camp in Jordan since 2011,” said Syrian refugee and journalist Omar Al Muqdad. “Before the conflict began in Syria, he was working in a bakery shop, making a decent living for his family. Due to the upheaval that took place in our city of Daraa, his bakery shop was forced to shut down. Abdulkader had no choice but to escape to the closest border – to Jordan. Their dreams of securing a good life and good education for their children are shattered by an irresponsible decision to end refugee resettlement and failing to live up to our American values of compassion, hospitality, and welcome.”
“I am not just worried about my family who is still in Aleppo in the war zone,” said Mariela Shaker, world renowned violinist, “but also my friends who arrived here with me three years ago and their asylum status is still pending. These people are great potential not a burden! They graduated from Illinois Institute of Technology and they are now employed at Google, Apple, Goldman Sachs and many others. It is very, very sad to ban all the people from Syria simply just because they are Syrians!”
“Many refugees who are now in inhumane conditions in the camps are surviving day by day by holding onto the hope of a better future and idea of having safety someday,” said Mustafa Nuur, a Somali refugee living in Lancaster PA. This executive order robs those people of that hope. Children make up 50% of the refugee population, and many parents are going to have to see the heartbreak in their children’s face when they tell them the can’t get resettled in the U.S. because of their faith. Refugee parents already in the US will also have to help their children cope with the stigma of being labelled as ‘dangerous’. It’s an all round bad situation.”
“This saddens me,” said Randy Muth, a former refugee from Cambodia. “During the Cambodian genocide, we were given the opportunity to escape the atrocities and now these people won’t be given the same opportunity and to live the American dream.”
“Refugees are not dangerous,” said Meathaq Alaunaibi, a refugee who arrived five months ago from Iraq. “They have years of security screenings. My family and I left everything in Iraq. We have dreams and we hope that they will come true. I dream that the United States will allow my twin daughters who are still in Iraq to join us soon.”
Bios of Refugee Leaders
Dev Bhandari is a native of Bhutan, who came to the U.S. as a refugee in August of 2009. Since age 14, Dev has been involved in community activities working as journalist, anchor and Children Forum Coordinator, coordinating more than 3000 children in Bhutanese Refugee camp located at Eastern Nepal, Asia. Since his arrival in the U.S., Dev has served as the Vice-President for Society Of Bhutanese in High Point, a community association, helping Bhutanese community members overcome the English language barrier by helping translate and filling out documents, applying for jobs, and assisting with mental health issues. He also organizes youth engagement events and helps teach citizenship classes to elders. Dev is currently in college studying for his undergraduate degree and runs his own ethnic store. He is expecting to become a US citizen in the months to come.
Omar Al-Muqdad is a Syrian journalist and documentary filmmaker who studied political science and international relations at the University of Damascus. He was imprisoned for two years for speaking out critically against the Syrian Assad regime. He resides in Alexandria, VA.
Mariela Shaker was born in Aleppo, Syria, and started playing the violin at the age of ten when she joined the Arabic Institute of Music in Aleppo (1999). She graduated from the institute in 2004 with distinction. She has also been awarded a full tuition academic scholarship to study for her Master’s in Music Performance at DePaul University. Mariela recently performed and spoke at the White House, Brooking Institute, Pentagon Conference, United Nations, Arab American Institute, Georgetown and George Washington universities, Asfari and Saied foundations, Harvard University, Points of Light, International Rescue Committee, Aspen Ideas Festival among many others.
Mustafa Nuur is a Somali refugee living in Lancaster PA since 2014. He was thirteen years old when when he and his family of nine fled their home country of Somalia. Spending nearly a decade in the Dadaab refugee camp and Nairobi, Kenya, Mustafa learned English from Mennonite missionaries. He now works as Director of Marketing at a local web design company and volunteers with refugees in his community.
Randy Muth and his family were among the many thousands of Cambodian refugees who were resettled in the United States during the 1980’s. Over the years, Muth has gained a wealth of experience working with national and grassroots Southeast Asian American and refugee serving organizations. He is founder and CEO of Angkor Resource Center, Inc, a nonprofit dedicated to assisting Asian Americans and other minority groups in south metro Atlanta to adjust socially and economically by providing education, information, and developmental services to improve their overall health and well-being and ultimately help them become self-sufficient.
Meathaq Alaunaibi is a refugee from Iraq, where she worked for government oil and agricultural agencies. After her home was attacked, she decided to flee the country but had to wait almost 5 years for visas. During that time, her husband was injured in a car explosion and her two twin daughters were not able to obtain visas. She now resides in Knoxville, Tennessee, where she dreams of reuniting with her family and one day opening a restaurant.
Letters of Support from Elected Officials
(Click to download PDF)