Every year, thousands of refugees arrive in the US to escape from fear and persecution. However, state budget cuts have drastically reduced programs serving this population affecting communities and individuals. Take Joseph, a refugee from Burma, who fled his homeland to escape government oppression. Joseph left every possession he had, believing that soon he would find a safer environment for him and his family. However, when he arrived in the US, he progressively realized that he had another long journey ahead of him. With limited English skills, his job prospects were scarce. And if he was unable to find a job within 6 months, he would soon be faced with no source of income and eviction from his home.
This is happening, here, in Seattle, a few blocks away from your neighborhood. Increasing numbers of refugees experience unemployment and sometimes homelessness. In the past, more help and opportunity was available, but the current economic downturn has pushed states to cut back critical programs that help the refugee resettlement process in US (e.g. ESL classes, job assistance, or cash assistance for family etc.). While witnessing such an injustice, how can we possibly stay still.
Refugee communities need further financial, professional and social support. New sources of funding, social programs, and greater community solidarity need to be found to allow newly arrived refugees access to a safer and more decent life.
Please find further info here:
- Article on The Salt Lake Tributes: "Those lucky enough to get to America not so lucky after all", by Julia Lyon, on December 4th 2009, presents how refugees are distributed across United State. The authors also report on current challenges that refugee face when they get to America.
- One America provides an overview of on-going immigration policy efforts at the state and local level in Washington.
- International Rescue Committee (IRC) helps refugees resettle and explains how WA State budget cut affects Seattle-based refugees.
- Office of Financial Management WA state 2012 supplemental budget presents WA State budget attributed to refugee resettlement programs