It has been 169 days since our community welcomed our last refugee family.
Since then, President Trump’s third and final refugee travel ban has ended and a new federal fiscal year has begun. After much deliberation, President Trump announced that 45,000 refugees would be admitted to the US in this new fiscal year (from October 1, 2017 to September 30, 2018). Canopy NWA was told that 75 of those refugees would come to Northwest Arkansas. But 4 months into Fiscal Year 2018, our community has received 0. None.
So we’re starting to ask: Where are our families?
In case you were wondering, this isn’t just an Arkansas problem. As a country, we’ve admitted 5,323 refugees so far. That puts us on pace to admit a mere 20,000 refugees this year—less than half of what was promised. That means that communities just like ours all across the US are asking themselves the same question: The ban is over, the president set a goal of 45,000, so why aren’t our families coming?
We know 40 of our 75 refugees by name already. Some of them have been ready to travel for over a year. The Bentonville Church of the Nazarene co-sponsor team has been storing furniture in their church basement for a year, waiting for a family who should have been here long ago. Where are they? The Mwenda family has been waiting for six months for their two adult children who they were told would travel right behind them. Where are they? Little Josepha from Rwanda has celebrated her 5th and 6th birthdays in a refugee camp while waiting for her chance to travel. Why couldn’t she celebrate them here?
Where are our families?
We don’t know the answer, but we do know the facts. We know that the Department of Homeland Security has greatly reduced the number of employees it is sending to conduct security interviews and medical screenings in the refugee camps. We also know that the President has questioned why he would want to admit immigrants from “sh*thole countries” such as Haiti, El Salvador and African countries. This leads us to wonder whether this administration is actually making an effort to admit the 45,000 refugees they have been funded to admit.
It is time for us to hold the president and the people who work for him at the State Department and Department of Homeland Security accountable to admit the 45,000 refugees they promised. To do that, we need our representatives in Washington to join us in asking “Where are our families?” Our Members of Congress have the authority to ask why these agencies are on pace to admit less than half the number of refugees in their mandate. We need them to exercise that authority on our behalf.
Last week, our very own Congressman Womack was appointed to become Chair of the House Budget Committee. We are grateful and proud that our representative occupies this seat of power, because that puts him in the perfect position to act on our behalf on this issue. He has repeatedly emphasized his support for our work and our refugee families, so we ask him to join us is asking: Where are our families?
If you’d like the congressman to help us bring our families home, call his DC office today: (202) 225-4301
Hi, my name is ______ and I live in (City). I am calling on behalf of the 40 refugees who are supposed to be resettled in my community in Northwest Arkansas. Some of them have been waiting for over a year to travel here and have not been able to. The refugee travel ban is over and the president has determined the US will resettle 45,000 refugees this year, but only 5,000 have been resettled so far—and zero have been resettled in Northwest Arkansas. I’m calling because I’d like Congressman Womack to publicly ask the Department of Homeland Security “Where are our families?”