Letters to the Editor and Op-Eds

Write Opinion Editorials & Letters to the Editor for Local Media Outlet

You can educate your community by writing Opinion Editorials (op-ed’s) and Letters to the Editor (LTEs). A well-placed piece in a local media outlet has the power to influence decision makers. Click here for the RCUSA Advocacy Toolkit for help with pitching & placing. 

Sample Opinion Editorial:

Celebrating 40 Years since the Refugee Act of 1980

March 17, 2020 marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Refugee Act of 1980. This landmark legislation formally created the U.S. resettlement program, declared that the policy of the United States is "to respond to the urgent needs of persons subject to persecution in their homelands," and was adopted with strong bipartisan support. The act had unanimous support in the U.S. Senate passing 85-0, something that would be unheard of today.

This reminds us of the longstanding, bipartisan tradition of welcoming refugees in the United States, from the Displaced Persons Act of 1948 that helped the United States to welcome 650,000 Europeans in the wake of World War II, to the Migrant and Refugee Assistance Act in 1962, to the U.S. ratification of the Geneva Conventions in 1968, to the Refugee Act of 1980.

The Trump administration is violating the spirit of the Refugee Act of 1980 and our nation’s history by grinding refugee resettlement to a halt for months at a time, banning refugees from certain countries, attempting to end pathways for family reunification, trying to allow states and localities to veto refugee resettlement, and cutting resettlement numbers by more than 80%. Judge Messitt, U.S. District Judge in  Maryland issued a preliminary injunction pausing the administration's attempt to ban refugees at the state or local level saying that it "Flies in the face of clear Congressional intent."

Today, 70 million people around the world are displaced, including 25.9 million refugees - the highest number in recorded history. Estimates indicate that a person is displaced every 20 minutes. However, when global need is at its highest, the Trump administration has quickly reversed our nation’s long history as a world leader in refugee protection and resettlement. In doing so, we are turning our back on the values of compassion and our own laws laid out in the Refugee Act. 

This administration has set the lowest refugee admissions goal in history -18,000 - and is not even on course to meet these numbers. Advocates are asking the Trump administration to stop its attack on refugees by honoring the Refugee Act of 1980 and restoring resettlement to historic norms of 95,000 per year, which is just .36 percent of the world's nearly 26 million refugees. For a country that has more than 15% of the world economy, it should not be difficult to resettle just 1/3 of 1 percent of refugees in the world. 

Refugees are contributing to our community and our local economy. Study after study show that refugees and immigrants create new businesses and new jobs. White House aides even tried to suppress a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) study, which found that refugees made a net contribution of $63 billion to government revenue over the last decade.

The Refugee Act of 1980 also set forth the legal procedures for the asylum system. Any strong democracy must have a robust asylum system as a symbol of hope, yet this administration has tried to pit asylum seekers against refugees, using the increase influx of asylum seekers as an excuse to slash the refugee program. However, the administration tried to halt the program by forcing asylum seekers to remain in Mexico, also known as Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP). Because of lack of legal access asylum seekers have just a .1 percent approval rate, drastically lower than the just 20 percent approval rate outside of MPP.

[Insert local story of refugee or asylee here]

This country was founded on the hard work, determination, and skills of generations of immigrants from all countries, religions, and backgrounds. We must not let our differences divide us, but instead strengthen us. However, this country also holds a history of discriminatory policies that have become moral stains on our country that we can never forget. These include slavery of African Americans, the genocide of Native Americans, rejection of Jewish refugees, and the Japanese internment camps. We cannot go back to these policies based on discrimination and hate. Exclusionary mindsets only lead to fear and hostility, neither of which have any place in our communities.

Although the Trump administration wants to block all legal immigration for those who are in need of humanitarian protection, this country has a proud legacy set forth in the Refugee Act of 1980 passed by Congress with a clear and broad initiative to resettle and welcome refugees and asylum seekers. This is a time to remember and celebrate the incredible successes refugees, asylees and immigrants have brought to this country, and to stand together to ensure this great law is not undermined by hateful policies, but remains in tact through the love and compassion of communities who care.

Sample Letter to the Editor:

[Insert relative content to recent article in your newspaper on refugees]

Celebrating 40 Years since the Refugee Act of 1980

March 17, 2020 marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Refugee Act of 1980. This landmark legislation formally created the U.S. resettlement program, declared that the policy of the United States is "to respond to the urgent needs of persons subject to persecution in their homelands," and was adopted with strong bipartisan support. The act had unanimous support in the U.S. Senate passing 85-0, something that would be unheard of today.

This reminds us of the longstanding, bipartisan tradition of welcoming refugees in the United States, from the Displaced Persons Act of 1948 that helped the United States to welcome 650,000 Europeans in the wake of World War II, to the Migrant and Refugee Assistance Act in 1962, to the U.S. ratification of the Geneva Conventions in 1968, to the Refugee Act of 1980.

This administration has set the lowest refugee admissions goal in history -18,000 - and is not even on course to meet these numbers. Advocates are asking the Trump administration to stop its attack on refugees by honoring the Refugee Act of 1980 and restoring resettlement to historic norms of 95,000 per year, which is just .36 percent of the world's nearly 26 million refugees. For a country that has more than 15% of the world economy, it should not be difficult to resettle just 1/3 of 1 percent of those fleeing persecution. 

Engage State & Local Policy Makers to Pass Refugees Welcome Resolutions

State and local policy makers have an important role to play in declaring welcome for refugees and immigrants. Welcome resolutions are official, public statements that a community supports refugees and immigrants - regardless of where they come from or what faith they practice. Together we can create a quilt of welcome resolutions that lift up local support and push back against the administration's attacks  that are dismantling the refugee resettlement program. To contact your state and local officials, visit: contactingcongress.org/local and usa.gov/elected-officials. To tweet your state and local officials, click to find the twitter handles for your governor and state legislators.