In commemorating World Refugee Day, we celebrate the courage, strength, and resilience of immigrants who have done everything in their ability to pave the way for a safe, equitable, and joyful future for themselves and their families.
Monday, June 22, 2022 is World Refugee Day. Over this past year, the crises that have unfolded in Afghanistan and Ukraine have served as a reminder of the catastrophic impact of war. This is not to mention the ongoing violence and persecution in places like Eritrea, Myanmar, Syria, Venezuela, Nigeria, and Yemen, as well as rising persecution in many other countries around the world.
We recognize the devastating impact of war, violence, conflict, and persecution, and that at least 1 in 88 people around the world have been forced to flee their homes due to these reasons. We also acknowledge that our world is home to at least 27.1 million refugees (as defined by the United Nations), half of whom are under the age of 18.
In commemorating World Refugee Day, we celebrate the courage, strength, and resilience of immigrants who have done everything in their ability to pave the way for a safe, equitable, and joyful future for themselves and their families. We also acknowledge that many immigrants who have moved to new countries for work may have moved for numerous reasons, such as securing a safer future for themselves and their families. Others may have moved to a new country for a job originally, but found themselves unable to return to their country of origin as conflict increased back home.
To our clients who have come to the U.S. on work visas and employment-based green cards, but do not have a safe home country to return to: we see you and we are here for you.
Facts to know
- There are at least 89.3 million forcibly displaced people around the world
- More than two-thirds of refugees and displaced Venezuelans (who are not all registered as refugees) have fled from these five countries: Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Myanmar.
- 83% of the world’s refugees are hosted in low- and middle-income countries
What is the difference between an immigrant, a refugee, an asylum seeker, a forcibly displaced person, or a special immigrant visa (SIV) holder?
Although many of these terms are used interchangeably, there are legal differences, so it is important to understand each term.
An immigrant is anyone who moves permanently to a new country.
A refugee is someone who has fled war, violence, conflict, or persecution and has crossed an international border to find safety in another country. Very few refugees (less than 3%) are ever permanently resettled into a new country. Instead, most refugees spend years in refugee camps or try to attempt to return to their homes. Being resettled to the U.S. specifically as a refugee is extremely difficult.
An asylum seeker is someone who has left their country seeking protection from persecution and applied for asylum in this new country. Millions of people seek asylum in the U.S. each year, many of whom travel up through Central America and Mexico by foot to ask for asylum at the U.S-Mexico border, while others may have come to the U.S. on a student or work visa and sought asylum after realizing it was unsafe to return to their home country. Seeking asylum is a human right.
Someone who is forcibly displaced has been forced to flee their home due to persecution. They could be a refugee or an asylum seeker who has entered a new country, or they could be someone who is internally displaced within their country.
The special immigrant visa (SIV) program was created by the U.S. to provide a path for certain groups of people, such as Afghans who are former U.S. government employees, to resettle into the U.S. This is a more direct route for individuals who qualify as compared to attempting to come as a refugee or asylum seeker.
How to help refugees and other immigrants in need
The first thing you can do is learn:
- Learn about refugee startup founders
- Watch a movie, such as Flee, an Oscar-nominated film about the true story of a young Afghan’s escape.
- Read a book, such as The Last Girl, which is a memoir about Nadia Murad’s life leading up to her becoming a refugee.
- Listen to a podcast, such as Resettled, which is about the experience of refugees being resettled in the U.S.
If you have more time, you can get involved locally within the U.S. to support your refugee neighbors. There are so many ways to volunteer, but here are a few options:
- Teach English to refugees in your city, or through Zoom
- Help asylum seekers as they exit ICE detention centers
- Become a host home for refugees through a local resettlement agency, or through Airbnb
- If you are a startup founder, consider hiring refugees with the help of an organization like Upwardly Global or Tent
- Help refugees improve their tech and business skills through an organization like Upwardly Global or Code Your Future
Finally, you can donate to organizations that help refugees globally, and as they resettle within the U.S., such as the International Rescue Committee or World Relief, or even donate your airline miles to Miles4Migrants.
Join in celebrating the courage, strength, and resilience of refugees and other immigrants this year on World Refugee Day. We are thankful that each day we get to help immigrants come to the U.S., and that we get to play a role in making the U.S. a welcoming and safe place for all.