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In Summits, Global Leaders Must Robustly Address Refugee Crisis

In Summits, Global Leaders Must Robustly Address Refugee Crisis

Rabbi Saxe speaking at Refugees Welcome press conference

On Monday, the 71st United Nations General Assembly will meet in New York. Responding to the global refugee crisis will be a key item on their agenda. A day-long Summit for Refugees and Migrants will be one of three high-level meetings of the General Assembly, and will attempt a coordinated effort to address the challenges of this unprecedented refugee crisis.

The next day, President Obama will host a Leaders’ Summit on the Global Refugee Crisis, an important moment for U.S. leadership on this issue.

At the Summit, the White House, along with summit co-hosts Canada, Ethiopia, Germany, Jordan, Mexico, Sweden and the UN Secretary General, will push for a global commitment to increase financing for international humanitarian organizations by 30% and to double the number of resettled refugees worldwide. Additionally, the administration is seeking to ensure that an additional one million refugees attend school, and that the same number of refugees have a legal right to work where they are living before being resettled.

According to the UN, more than 65 million people are currently displaced throughout the world. This surpasses even the historic number of refugees following World War II. Of those refugees, 41% of them are children, and many of them lack access to education while in exile and fall victim to exploitative child labor practices

On Wednesday, President Obama announced that the U.S. would accept 110,000 total refugees in 2017, up from 85,000 this year. While this increase is an important demonstration of U.S. leadership on this issue, there is still legislation in Congress that attempts to block entry to refugees of certain religious backgrounds and Syrian refugees. Take action and urge President Obama and your Members of Congress to support robust refugee resettlement, regardless of religious or national background.  

Leading up to next week’s summits, the Refugees Welcome Campaign coordinated a major action on Capitol Hill on Thursday. Campaign organizers delivered 10,000 postcards to Members of Congress urging them to expand funding for refugee resettlement. Reform Rabbi Jeffrey Saxe of Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church, VA spoke at a press conference before the action and urged faith communities to take the lead in welcoming refugees. In his remarks, he spoke about his own grandparents’ experience as refugees and highlighted a dinner his congregation hosted with recently resettled Syrian refugees.

As Reform Jews, we understand too well the plight of refugees fleeing persecution in hopes of a more secure, prosperous future for themselves and their children. We remember with gratitude our parents and grandparents who fled Anti-Semitism and pogroms, and we honor their sacrifices by embracing those who seek refuge today.

For more information about how your congregation can welcome refugees into your community, check out our congregational guide

Shelby Friedman is a 2016-2017 Eisendrath Legislative Assistant. Shelby is from Dallas, TX, where she is a member of Temple Emanu-El. She graduated from Middlebury College. 

Shelby Friedman

Published: 9/16/2016