On Tuesday, April 17 Jesuit Refugee Service/USA and a group of 50 advocates from several partner organizations gathered to advocate on Capitol Hill, meeting with 41 offices representing 15 states, and the District of Columbia. The advocates met with key appropriations and foreign policy decision-makers to discuss refugee resettlement; funding for overseas humanitarian assistance programs; and the importance of access to education for refugees.
In preparation for Advocacy Day, JRS/USA developed materials on each policy issue to be discussed and hosted a webinar to review the issues in more detail. The day of the event, Giulia McPherson, JRS/USA’s Director of Advocacy and Operations, kicked-off the morning with a breakfast briefing, team meetings, and strategies to garner support from policymakers.
The mission of the day was simple and meaningful to each person who participated. Whether it was students from Georgetown Prep in North Potomac, MD who discuss the refugee crisis in their civics class, or Kam Lian, a Burmese refugee resettled in Indiana who is fighting for his family living in Malaysia, the topic touches all of us.
Kam shared with his Representatives that he still has family who have “been waiting for almost ten years to receive help and be resettled.” He speaks to his family once a week and has not given up hope of being reunited. Kam was excited to bring his story to Capitol Hill as it is one that speaks volumes to the needs of refugees and migrants around the world.
Some JRS advocates were able to meet with their Members of Congress, including Zozan, a Syrian refugee who was recently resettled in the 8th District of Virginia. She was able to meet with Congressman Donald Beyer and explain to him how important it was for her and her family to be able to come to the U.S. from Syria.
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. The teamwork and determination of each group sent a strong message to those they met with on Capitol Hill. “I’m very thankful to JRS and everyone involved in advocacy day for giving me a platform to voice my opinions, formed over four years of Jesuit education, in favor of refugees around the globe.” Daniel Cole.
Thank you to the many friends and supporters who joined us including Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Georgetown Prep, Gonzaga College High School, Georgetown University’s No Lost Generation student group, and John Carroll University.