September 13, 2018 12:11 PM

"Refugees Speak Out" National Press Call

Refugees Speak Out Against Decimation of U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program as "We Are All America" Campaign Launches National Week of Action September 15, 2018

Click Here to Listen to "Refugees Speak Out" Press Call


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 13, 2018


Stephanie D. Stephens, [email protected], (503) 849-0569

Refugees Speak Out Against Decimation of the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program as "We Are All America" Campaign Launches National Week of Action September 15, 2018

Refugees and former refugees speak to the program’s success and call on President Trump to admit at least 75,000 refugees in Fiscal Year 2019.

NATIONWIDE – Hundreds of refugees and former refugees--including Virginia Delegate Kathy Tran and Helena Montana Mayor Wilmot Collins--signed letter to President Trump urging the Administration to lift the refugee admissions cap to at least 75,000 refugees in 2019; We Are All America Campaign announces a national Week of Action to mobilize refugees, asylees and allies in support of refugees and refugee resettlement. A recording of the September 13, 2019 press call is available here.

Events will take place in states throughout the U.S. including: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Washington, DC, Wisconsin. Additional information is available here.

To speak with affected individuals, communities, or advocates in specific regions, please contact Stephanie Stephens ([email protected]).

Kathy Tran, Virginia Delegate and former refugee from Vietnam, said, “During my campaign in 2017, one voter said to me, I like you and I support you. But I’m not sure our community will vote for you – you’re a former refugee, you’re a mom of young kids. But, it turns out, that he was wrong. As I spoke to thousands of neighbors in my community in northern Virginia, they told me about their parents who came as refugees, about their grandparents, about their friends. They told me about their military service in Vietnam, their tours as foreign service officers, and how their churches helped resettle refugees. They told me that we need to continue welcoming refugees and immigrants. These conversations affirmed that the values of hope, opportunity, and freedom are the foundation of our democracy. And what you see in my community – and communities across this country, from Montana to New Hampshire – is that Americans from all backgrounds understand that refugees strengthen our economic, social, and cultural fabric. And they’re voting for former refugees to represent them … Today, I am proud to stand with refugees and former refugees, including elected officials, business owners, workers, faith and community leaders, mothers and fathers -- new Americans -- in signing a letter to President Trump urgently requesting him to lift the refugee admissions cap to at least 75,000 refugees in 2019.”

Wilmot Collins, Mayor of Helena Montana and former refugee from Liberia, told his story of arrival from Liberia to his successful bid for Mayor and urged the U.S. government to increase the number of refugee admissions to at least 75,000 next fiscal year. Mayor Collins said, “What I'm trying to tell the world today is we, as refugees, are just like any other person who is asking for one thing: a second chance. Give us that second chance to prove ourselves and you will see we are no different than you. I'm pleading with the U.S. government ... please increase the numbers.”

Mohamed Ali, former refugee from Somalia and Engineer/Community Leader in Columbus, Ohio, discussed his experience of being born in a refugee camp and the journey he made to become a successful engineer. “The Trump Administration believes that immigrants and refugees’ merit can be determined at the point of entry by how rich they are, what languages they speak, how educated they are, or what part of the world they came from. How can you measure human potential? The story of America teaches us over and over again that no person’s potential can be measured and the moment he or she arrives.” Mr. Ali expressed his intent to run for school board.

Jeffry Gottfried, child of a Holocaust survivor, said, “Refugees and immigrants have enriched America in countless ways and continue to do so. Like my murdered grandfather, five of his siblings, their spouses, and some of their children, there are real and grave consequences for being denied entry into the U.S. and deportation into harm's way.”

Basma Alawee, State Refugee Organizer, Florida Immigrant Coalition, told her refugee story. “Unfortunately many Iraqis like me and my husband, who supported the United States during the war, are stuck in refugee camps or are still in Iraq, living under constant threat. As of Aug. 15, just 48 Iraqis had been admitted to the United States this fiscal year through a special refugee program meant for people who worked for the US government or American contractors, news media or non-governmental groups. People like my husband. More than 3,000 came last year and about 5,100 in 2016. The backlog of Iraqis is now 100,000. As we advocate to raise the refugee admissions goal to 75,000, we Iraqi refugees join the Pentagon in urging the administration to admit our Iraqi brothers and sisters who offered their loyalty and support to the US -- without counting them in the overall cap. This is a promise we made to people who put their lives and families on the line.”

About We Are All America

We Are All America aims to uphold and strengthen our nation’s commitment to welcome and protect those seeking freedom, safety, and refuge in the United States.