On Tuesday, October 17 the Jesuit Refugee Service/USA and a group of 35 advocates from several partner organizations gathered to advocate on Capitol Hill, meeting with 27 offices representing eight U.S. states, Baltimore, and the District of Columbia.These meetings included key appropriations and foreign policy decision-makers who needed to hear from voters about the importance of U.S. leadership on refugee issues.
Each group discussed three key policy issues that could make a significant and lasting difference in the lives of refugees. These were, refugee resettlement; funding for overseas humanitarian assistance programs; and the importance of access to education for refugees.
As the groups trailed between the House and Senate to meet with representatives, they strategized and planned the best approach to garner support from the Members of Congress. Working together as one unified group gave the teams a stronger message to showcase. We all had one mission, advocate for refugees. John Besche, a Senior at Georgetown Prep, stated that, “Coming from a background where we have passion but we don’t always know how to make change, advocating on behalf of refugees felt like a step toward justice.” The groups expressed their passion for helping refugees and took action as they spoke about the cause to legislators.
Everyone who volunteered to advocate somehow had a connection to refugees, whether it was parishioners from Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown who are sponsoring a refugee family, or advocates supporting the education of children overseas, the mission is close to all our hearts.
Athena Mison Fulay of the Community of Sant’Egidio stated that, “The impressive range of organizations represented was a beautiful testament to the ability of the Jesuit Refugee Service to convene and lead on the issue of refugee advocacy. It was an inspiring display for legislators to meet with a wide spectrum of constituents, from the grassroots level of sponsoring hosts, like Holy Trinity parishioners, to members of the clergy who have worked overseas with refugee resettlement groups (Missionaries of Africa), and lay leaders committed to issues of social justice. JRS was able to harness and craft a message of solidarity and goodwill on behalf of all those working with displaced persons.”
JRS/USA’s Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill was another step in the right direction as we continue our efforts to accompany, serve and advocate for the rights of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons.
Thank you to the many friends and supporters who joined us including Holy Trinity, Community of Sant’Egidio, Georgetown Prep, Missionaries of Africa, Catholic University and St Ignatius Catholic Community (Baltimore).