The Refugee Crisis
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“As a stable nation that has always prided itself on being welcoming and being founded on the success of immigrants,” said Jourdi Bosley, the community resource coordinator from the CWS-Durham office. “[The United States] has an obligation and an expectation to the world at large to offer resources to people who don’t have them.”
Church World Service (CWS)—an international organization that provides aid across the globe, as well as relief and resettlement in world crises—strives to uphold these values that make up the foundation of our country. The organization was born in the aftermath of World War II as a Protestant nonprofit to end hunger and poverty worldwide. Today, however, there is no active faith identity in its services.
Open since 2009, the CWS office located in downtown Durham specifically focuses on welcoming refugees and immigrants into the Triangle. The Durham office is actually part of a smaller branch of CWS, the Immigrants and Refugees Program (IRP), whose mission is to provide resettlement and social services to refugees coming into the Raleigh-Durham area.
About a month ago, President Donald Trump issued an executive order, also known as the “travel ban,” which set many rules and restrictions regarding immigration into the U.S. The travel ban stated that all refugee resettlement be suspended for 120 days, and it also set the refugee resettlement ceiling to 50,000 for the 2017 fiscal year, when the previously proposed number had been 110,000.
Even though the U.S. is one of the largest and most developed nations in the world, it continues to be lag behind other countries who are setting an example of welcoming and resettling more refugees. “It’s incredibly important to me that people feel like they can be welcome in the United States,” said Lena Maghraoui, a sophomore who volunteers with CWS, “especially in a time now where a lot of refugees’ lives are in such question … especially when they can’t speak the language and they might not have jobs yet.”
Jourdi Bosley explained the integral role that refugees and immigrants hold in our community: “Refugees and immigrants are incredible contributors to our culture, but also our economy, and there are many stories of refugees revitalizing downtown main streets of small towns in middle America that otherwise would not have a thriving economy without their inputs.”
The executive order has limited not only resettlement numbers, but also financial support from the federal government for organizations like CWS. However, this has hardly discouraged the Durham community from working to help refugees and immigrants. According to Bosley, “From our office, we’ve seen an incredible increase in community support for our work … So there is a silver lining in the sense that I think people feel now more than ever like it’s really important to show how connected we are and how strong we can stand together.”
Even with this kind of support, the refugee community is still very vulnerable at the present. “For those people for whom the refugee resettlement program is a life-saving program, there’s been a lot of fear and trepidation,” Bosley explained. “The implications of the executive order made a lot of people worried that they would never see their family again.”
Read more about CWS-Durham and its services at cwsrdu.org.