One More Thought About Refugees
How they contribute to American life, how we can help
Earlier today I sent a dispatch focused on refugee policy and data, the unacceptable recent history that admitted fewer and fewer refugees into the US, and the responsibility that the Biden Administration has to provide humanitarian support.
In the coming days and weeks, I hope to share more thoughts and stories about the experience of refugees from Afghanistan—what they face, what Americans can do and how they will meaningfully contribute to our country.
In all the painful tumult of this tragic end—and the likelihood that millions of Afghans will face violence and worse at the hands of the brutal Taliban—those that are able to escape may be grateful that they’ve escaped with their lives and have the chance to start over. I have friends who are doing what they can to move heaven and earth to help them depart their homeland. But that transition will not come without trauma—or without shameful critics decrying their intentions and doubting their value.
I just wanted to take a moment to remember how much refugees have enriched American life. If you are lucky enough to connect with newly arriving Afghan refugees, I hope that you’ll reach out and share your experience with me.
If you are looking to donate or otherwise volunteer, one organization is Neighbors in Need: Afghan Allies Fund, which provides food, clothing, housing assistance and other basic needs as refugees await official service.
Accepting these men, women, and families is one way we honor and pay our debt on the world stage to those who stood alongside us and did their part for the mission at hand. Our moral center as a nation is as much in need of recognition as is the one that resides within each person.
It is then from that perspective that I am truly heartened that Afghan refugees have started to arrive at Wisconsin’s Fort McCoy for temporary housing. (I am a WI resident.) Being loyal is not only how we should act one to another, but also how nations must operate, too.
Over the past few days, the American brand name has been tarnished with leaders and commentators around the globe taking a kick at our process of withdrawal playing out in Afghanistan. Some of it is surely earned.
But we can now showcase the thing about our nation that has always loomed large. Folks from every land wishes to come to our shores and breathe the air of freedom. The people now who aspire to call this place home are most deserving of being accepted. They have earned it.
To the Afghan refugees, I say Welcome to America. To Wisconsin, To your new home. I hope to meet some of them, have a chance to talk and learn more about their lives.