I recently met with three women who work for Refugee Services of Texas (RST) who updated me on the refugee situation in Texas. They said the number of refugees being allowed into the U.S. has fallen dramatically since Trump took office, and as a result, the number of refugees coming into Texas dropped by 70 percent in 2018.

I told a neighbor about this and she shared a friend’s Facebook post.  

“This infant car seat sits in my house because I am a volunteer with Refugee Services of Texas. Part of what we do is go to the Austin airport to welcome refugee families to this country. This chair has been unused for a long time; there are rarely any refugees to welcome. Trump and the Republicans turned their back on Syrian refugees long ago.”

Most of these refugees are coming from Iraq and Afghanistan and are people who worked with the U.S. military or our government and whose safety is at risk if they stay in their home countries. They are allowed in through a “Special Immigrant Visa” or SIV.

RST also helps survivors of human trafficking, Central American minors, refugees and asylees, and Cuban-Haitian entrants. The goal is to integrate them into their new communities as quickly as possible. “Fresh starts, open hearts” is their guiding slogan.

But now funding for RST is in jeopardy due to the decreased number of refugees caused in no small part by negative sentiments toward refugees from both the President and Governor Abbott. From the Refugee Council USA, “During the worst refugee crisis in world history, the United States is failing in its very limited commitment to admit refugees.”

While it might seem that refugees put a strain on our resources, they actually often integrate quickly and work hard, paying “an average $21,000 more in taxes than they receive in benefits during their first 20 years in the United States

As I heard on the radio the other day, people are not “illegal,” they are human. Let’s all be human and welcome refugees here, allow them to escape war or persecution in their home countries. We need to stop the fear-mongering and understand that we have much to offer, and much to gain, by welcoming refugees.

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