Washington, D.C.—In honor of World Refugee Day, Human Rights First today urged lawmakers to reject policies and practices that undermine American leadership in protecting the persecuted. This year’s observance comes as the world faces the greatest refugee crisis since World War II.
“Today we honor the incredible bravery and resilience of refugees—people fleeing persecution and violence in search of safety and freedom. Their courage and perseverance inspire us,” said Human Rights First’s President and CEO Elisa Massimino. “Now is no time to abdicate American leadership with policies that demonize refugees and abandon them to danger. One of the great strengths of our country has been its embrace of those who seek freedom from oppression and violence. We urge American policymakers and lawmakers to stand up for and welcome those who need our protection. Refugees renew America.”
The U.N. Refugee Agency reports that in 2016 there were over 65 million people displaced from their homes. Nearly half of them are children. On average, a person somewhere in the world is forced to flee their home every three seconds. And yet, refugees and asylum seekers are facing heightened threats under the Trump Administration, from executive orders to an emboldened detention and deportation force. Through its pro bono representation of refugees seeking asylum, Human Rights First sees every day the devastating impact President Trump’s executive order—under review by federal courts— and an emboldened deportation force would have on refugees.
For nearly 40 years, Human Rights First has helped people who were forced to flee persecution, torture, and even threats of death in their home countries. The organization’s approach—which combines assisting individual refugees to gain protection while pressing for fair and humane national asylum laws and policies—is highly effective in helping people become new and engaged members of American society and in bringing about sustained and positive change in laws and policies towards refugees.
Today Human Rights First celebrates the stories of refugees and those who stand up for them. To learn more about the brave individuals who have fled violence and persecution, check out the Refugee Voices video series.