***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***
June 25, 2018
America Loves Refugees, Celebrates World Refugee Day Nationwide
World Relief shares stories, honors strength and courage of refugees
Baltimore, Md. – In honor of refugees worldwide on Wednesday, June 20, World Relief celebrated World Refugee Day with national and local activities to highlight refugees’ stories and equip Americans to welcome and resettle those newly arrived in their communities. Since 1979, World Relief has helped 300,000 refugees make America their home, and the results were celebrated across the country this week.
“From the halls of Congress to the border in El Paso to the soccer pitch in California, World Relief has spent the week of World Refugee Day listening to and advocating for the stranger. The path to arriving in the U.S. as a refugee or immigrant is often long and fraught with difficulty,” said Scott Arbeiter, president of World Relief. “As a nation, World Refugee Day is an important opportunity to listen to the stories from these strong men and women and honor the strength that it’s taken to arrive and to rebuild their lives. And it’s a time to consider how we as a nation can continue to be a beacon of light and hope for those fleeing persecution in this world.”
Nationally, World Relief advocated for the quick resolution of policies that will clear legal pathways for DREAMers and individuals seeking asylum at the U.S. border. Matthew Soerens, U.S. Director of Church Mobilization, urged Attorney General Sessions to reconsider the controversial “Zero Tolerance” policy in an op-ed at USA Today, and in interviews on CNN.
World Relief partnered with the Evangelical Immigration Table on several efforts, signing a letter sent to President Trump to protest border separations, which now has over 10,000 signatures, including more than one thousand local pastors.
In our Nation’s capital, on Tuesday, June 19, World Relief joined a delegation of evangelical women and men to visit Capitol Hill offices. The day before, World Relief Triad Executive Director Jennifer Foy spoke on a press call host a press call to advocate policy solutions to the pressing issues facing America’s immigration system. Foy was joined by several other evangelical women leaders, including Kathryn Freeman, Director of Public Policy, Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission; Helena Muliwa, former refugee from Burundi; Shirley Mullen, President, Houghton College; Trillia Newbell, Director of Community Outreach, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; Kelly Rosati, Justice Liaison, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; Ava Steaffens, CEO, Christian Community Development Association; and Jo Anne Lyon, Global Ambassador, The Wesleyan Church.
On Wednesday, World Relief sent a team to the U.S.-Mexico border to broadcast a live Facebook update outside the Tornillo, Texas, detention center. The update featured Matthew and Tyler Burns, host of The Justice Conference podcast, who discussed the policies leading to family separations and the importance of honoring the dignity of those seeking asylum, especially on World Refugee Day. You can watch the footage here. Having seen firsthand the situation at the border, World Relief urged President Trump and Congress to go farther than the Executive Order signed on Wednesday to halt family separation – reuniting families is essential, but it doesn’t yet resolve the outstanding issue of detaining children indefinitely.
Responding to many questions from those who desire to help the situation at the border and around the country, World Relief launched a new, free, digital resource for those who see the need and want to help, but don’t know how. The funds raised throughout June will go toward legal services to help those seeking asylum at the border and other vital services that World Relief provides immigrants and refugees. The launch of the platform coincided with the premier of a dramatic new short film, entitled “Al’s Story.”
The subject of the film, Al, as well as his family, shared their story of escape from war-torn Iraq during a spotlight event hosted by World Relief DuPage/Aurora. Elsewhere around the country, activities ranged from the evening of dinner and storytelling hosted by World Relief Fox Valley, a soccer tournament hosted by World Relief Sacramento with Sacramento Republic FC and Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, an open house hosted by World Relief Moline, and more.
Tim Breene, CEO of World Relief, commented, “As a nation founded by immigrants in large part to protect the freedoms of persecuted classes in other nations, we need the reminder that World Refugee Day brings: our liberty came at a cost. We’re grateful for the contributions brought to our communities by the deserving men and women who we at World Relief have had the privilege of welcoming and resettling.”
World Refugee Day happens once a year, but the work continues. In 2018, approximately 20,000 refugees are anticipated in the U.S. They come from around the world, fleeing situations that are often violent, and they must first pass a rigorous vetting process before entering the U.S. If you would like to learn more, please visit the World Relief’s website.
World Relief is a global humanitarian relief and development organization that stands with the vulnerable and partners with local churches to end the cycle of suffering, transform lives and build sustainable communities. With over 70 years of experience, World Relief works in 20 countries worldwide through disaster response, health and child development, economic development and peacebuilding and has offices in the United States that specialize in refugee and immigration services. Learn more at worldrelief.org.