UPDATED: How Can Georgia Help Syrian Refugees in the State?

This post was originally published in September 2015, when multiple Governors across the US were seeking to ban Syrian refugee resettlement. It has been updated to reflect the cuts in refugee arrivals for all countries of origin. 

We have gotten a lot of questions related to the Syrian Refugee Crisis, and refugee resettlement, lately. Here is some information to help explain how Georgia may be impacted and how you can help.

Q: How is the number of refugees coming into the United States determined?

A: The president sets an annual determination at the beginning of each fiscal year for how many refugees we will accept in the United States. The federal ceiling has been 70,000 for many years. Today we have more displaced people in the world than any other time since World War II. President Obama set the ceiling for 2016 at 85,000 and for 2017 at 110,000. Once in office, President Trump dropped the ceiling for 2017 to 50,000 and set the ceiling for 2018 at the lowest it has ever been – 45,000.

President Trump also announced in early December that he was ending the Central American Minor (CAM) program – which at the time had 7,000 youth in process to come to the U.S. to reunite with family.

Q: Where are refugees coming from?

A: Refugees are currently coming from Burma/Myanmar, Bhutan, Congo, Cuba, El Salvador, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Syria.

Q: How many refugees are expected from Syria?

A: The U.S. has resettled only 1,517 Syrian refugees since the conflict began; only 46 have been resettled in Georgia (as of September 2015). President Obama set a goal of resettling 10,000 Syrians country-wide in 2016. However, one of President Trump’s first actions in office was to set a Travel Ban for immigrants (including refugees) from several countries, including Syria. This Travel Ban has now gone through three re-issues and multiple court cases – all the way to the Supreme Court. As it stands (as of December 2017) refugee resettlement is still in progress, but the third installment of the Travel Ban has again stalled Syrian resettlement for all those who do not have a “bona fide relationship” with someone already living in the U.S.

Q: How can we support refugees here in Georgia?

A: Georgians can lend their support in three primary ways:

  1. Donate: 
    1. Financial support through a resettlement organization like New American Pathways so we can use the resources where they are most needed.
    2. In-kind donations of basic needs like diapers, socks, backpacks/school supplies, hygiene kits. Please make an appointment for drop-off as we have limited space and resources.
  2. Advocate:
    1. Welcome refugees and speak up for them with local, state and federal officials. We need you, your faith communities, your families, friends, businesses, organizations, schools and more to reach out to your elected officials and ask them to support the refugee program! Thank officials who continue to stand with refugees. Visit votesmart.org with your ZIP code to find your officials.
    2. Support refugee-owned businesses with your business. Shop and eat in Clarkston.
    3. Register to vote and VOTE.
    4. There are also many ways to get involved as a volunteer
  3. Educate:
    1. Follow us on social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn).
    2. Subscribe to our monthly newsletters and share them.
    3. Sign up, and encourage your friends and family to sign up, for our coalition’s Action Alerts (bit.ly/2gJtwas).
    4. Combat misinformation – see our annual report, CRSA fact sheet and other resources that are available on our website.

Thank you for your support and for welcoming refugees in Georgia.