For Immediate Release
Tuesday Sept 28, 2021
Haitian & Afghan Solidarity: “We Stand Together”
WASHINGTON - Yesterday, We Are All America, the National Partnership for New Americans and Welcome With Dignity campaign hosted a conversation between Haitian and Afghan community leaders to find common ground and bring solidarity to the efforts of both communities. Conversations will continue at the National Immigrant Integration Conference (NIIC) in Las Vegas on October 3-6, which features Special Sessions on the dual crises in Haiti and Afghanistan. More details about these special sessions are available below.
The conversation yesterday focused on the importance of finding solidarity between the Haitian and Afghan communities; the context around the current situation in Haiti and at our southern border; what is happening in Afghanistan and the status of evacuations; and holding the Biden administration accountable to campaign promises around immigration.
“We cannot talk about Haiti and the current crisis without context about what happened the last ten years. What we are seeing now is the result of failed U.S. foreign policy and failed political leadership in Haiti,” said Krystina François, Executive Director of the Office of New Americans Miami-Dade. “Over the last decade, Haiti has endured two earthquakes, a major hurricane, and failed political transitions. We have people who are vulnerable and are seeking stability and security. Because of conditions in Haiti, we’ve seen a new migration flow to South America but because of COVID and other economic pressures, opportunities in Latin America are drying up, leading people to take the trip to our Southern border,” she added.
“I want to express the utmost solidarity with Haiti and Haitians seeking safety at our border. I’m concerned about the people left behind in Afghanistan as we know the nature of media coverage and the American attention span. What happens is there are moments of welcome and solidarity, but they need to be sustained because these grave crises have not disappeared,” said Bilal Askaryar, Welcome With Dignity Campaign Communications Coordinator. “There are still 100,000 Special Immigrant Visa eligible people who worked directly with the U.S. government that were left behind. The Taliban is finding anyone who had the most tangential relationship with the U.S. and targeting them with persecution. In addition, millions of people are in danger of religious, ethnic, and political persecution like LGBTQ Afghans, religious minorities, ethnic minorities, women leaders and educators,”Askaryar added.
“One thing top of mind: what does solidarity look like? What does it truly mean to be a welcoming nation? We have a lot of work to do to unpack this idea of belonging.“ added Nicole Melaku, Executive Director of the National Partnership for New Americans. “This is the first of many conversations needed. The idea of solidarity is our way out of this. We cannot imagine the future if we don’t imagine bringing all parts of our communities and all perspectives to the table,” she added.
“Both Haitians at the U.S. southern border and Afghans fleeing their homeland are people fleeing multiple crises who have faced harrowing journeys to seek safety. They are in desperate need of support, not cruelty,” said Basma Alawee, National Campaign Manager of We Are All America. “President Biden ran on a campaign of humanity, but his actions in both Afghanistan and in response to the Haitians at our border are a far cry from the immigration reform promises he made.”
National Immigrant Integration Conference Special Sessions on the dual Haiti and Afghanistan crises:
Haitian Refugee Crisis: How We Got Here and the Path Forward
Monday, October 4th 11:00-12:15 PM Local Time
Haiti’s overlapping environmental, socioeconomic and political crisis of the last decade has led to the displacement of 100,000 of Haitians throughout the Western Hemisphere. The horrific scenes in Del Rio, Texas are emblematic of an outdated immigration system that does not reflect or honor the needs of those seeking refuge in our country. Haitian refugees and Black immigrants have long faced racial bias in the asylum process and immigration enforcement.
We will have a conversation on what led us to this moment and how lawyers, advocates, policymakers and elected officials address the newly arrived Haitian migrants.
Harnessing Welcome and Community Support for our new Afghan Neighbors
Tuesday October 5 from 3:45-4:45pm Local Time
In the last weeks of August 2021, the global community was gripped by the chaotic departure of U.S. forces from Afghanistan after a 20-year operation on the ground. The images are devastating. The stories are heartbreaking. But the tremendous response from people across the country has been uplifting and inspiring. Refugee resettlement agencies, diaspora organizations, and other community groups have seen an unprecedented outpouring of support from people looking to help the thousands who made it out of Afghanistan in time. Communities across from coast-to-coast have rallied in preparation to support our new Afghan neighbors. In this session we will discuss the ways organizations have harnessed the power of welcoming communities to respond quickly and innovatively to this complex emergency, while simultaneously centering Afghan-American community voices, priorities, and expertise in the process of welcome.
We Are All America is a refugee organizing alliance housed under the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA). We Are All America works to uphold and strengthen our nation’s commitment to welcome and protect those seeking freedom, safety and refuge in the United States. We organize people across religious and cultural differences to build inclusive communities where we all belong. In addition to NPNA, We Are All America's national partners include Alianza Americas, Church World Service, Human Rights First, Refugee Congress, International Rescue Committee, the Refugee Advocacy Lab, Refugee Council USA, and Welcoming America.