“At New American Pathways, we’re doing our part to define and promote our values as members of an inclusionary, equitable society by welcoming refugees and guiding them along a trajectory of upward mobility and integration.”
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We are less than a week away until the 2018 midterm elections. If you’re like me and have found yourself struggling to turn your eyes away from the barrage of stories surrounding races in Georgia and elsewhere across the country, you’ve likely encountered a reoccurring theme frequently reiterated by pundits and politicos across the partisan spectrum: “This election is a referendum on the president and his policies.”
Personally, I disagree. While the president and his agenda undoubtedly cast a significant sphere of influence over how incumbents and candidates craft their own policy platforms and political personas in midterm elections, it should not cast a shadow over some larger issues and trends that have been brewing and bubbling up well before he took office. No matter how you dice it, this election is a referendum on American values, institutions and some long-withstanding traditions.
One of those traditions is the act of resettling refugees. Even before the U.S. began formally resettling refugees in partnership with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in 1980, our country provided relief to hundreds of thousands of people across all corners of the globe, sharing only one thing in common: statelessness brought on by experiences of political persecution, genocide or civil war. Through our participation in the refugee resettlement program, we choose to demonstrate moral leadership to the world by providing these individuals with a new chance at safety, stability and success in a country that doesn’t care if they’re Rohingya or Tutsi or a Bosnian Muslim. Or Jewish.
When we take off our partisan hats for a second, welcoming survivors of tyranny and injustice just makes sense. It’s diplomatically strategic, generates economic revenue for states and local communities, and showcases our uniquely American penchant for optimism and a love for a great underdog comeback story. It’s an institutionalized expression of the American spirit that has, until recent years, enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress and the White House. (Perhaps another tradition that appears to be waning.)
But our current climate has presented a new set of challenges. Refugee new arrivals are at an all-time low in the United States, nativism is making a global comeback and our interpretation of how immigration fits within our country’s larger narrative has grown increasingly cynical and fear-driven. If this election is indeed a referendum on our values, then refugee resettlement is at the heart of how we define these values.
At New American Pathways, we’re doing our part to define and promote our values as members of an inclusionary, equitable society by welcoming refugees and guiding them along a trajectory of upward mobility and integration. Helping new Americans obtain citizenship, a milestone point located toward the end of this trajectory, is a very specific way in which we welcome refugees and immigrants in our Civic Engagement program. Helping new citizens access the tools necessary for participating in a representative democracy is a beautiful thing when you believe in the power of the institution.
Whether it’s seeing native-born citizens help register newly naturalized citizens to vote or seeing native-born folks and immigrants of all backgrounds knock on doors to help spread the word about early voting, I have witnessed so much power and unrelenting belief in Democracy that I can’t help but feel hopeful that in the future, these institutions will prevail and welcoming values will endure.
But this is a long-end game and we can’t do it alone. Join us and witness this power for yourself.
September 2018: Greetings from MODA! by Laura Flusche
August 2018: The Ideal Candidate by Justine Okello
July 2018: My Role in Welcoming, and Being Welcomed by Mary Martha Myette
April 2018: Why I Serve with Refugees by Minji Kim
February 2018: Where are the Refugees? by Stephanie Jackson Ali
January 2018: Sharing Riches Through Mentorship by Kelsey Smith
December 2017: Thoughts on Doing Good This Season by Andrew Leba
October/November 2017: Thoughts on Thankfulness by Paedia Mixon
September 2017: Undocumented and Unafraid: My Parents, My Heroes by Raymond Partolan
August 2017: Building PathDriver: My Path to Drive an Impact by Robin Deutsch Edwards
July 2017: Civic Engagement Regardless of Citizenship by Maria del Rosario Palacios
June 2017: Celebrating World Refugee Day by Rabbi Peter S. Berg
May 2017: Love>Fear: And It’s Good For Business by Bonnie Kallenberg
April 2017:Talking with Babies Makes Their Brains Smarter by Nitza Vega-Lahr, Ph.D.
March 2017: It’s All About Student Support by Terry Segovis
February 2017: Clarkston, Georgia: An Ever-Changing Town by Awet Eyasu
January 2017: Reclaiming Georgia’s Legacy of Love by Paedia Mixon
December 2016: Reflections on Welcoming Communities Trip to Germany by Alicia Phillip
November 2016: Thanksgiving in America by Bishop Robert Wright
October 2016: Voting: The Real American Dream by Elizabeth Poythress
August/September 2016: From the Road: das Willkommen by Paedia Mixon
July 2016: My Life In AmeriCorps by Lauren Mertens
June 2016: Reflecting On World Refugee Day
May 2016: A Gift for my Parents by Bee Nguyen
April 2016: The Ripple Effect by Breauna Hagen
March 2016: Lessons I’ve Learned Tutoring a Refugee by Ashley Hager
February 2016: For the Love of Humanity by Safia Jama
January 2016: 4D Service Learning at The Galloway School by Scotti Belfi
November and December 2015: A Case for Syrian Resettlement by Paedia Mixon
October 2015: Creating a Welcoming Atlanta Interview with Luisa Cardona
September 2015: Third-Annual Red, White and NEW Event Exceeds Fundraising and Advocacy Goals by Kelley Lugo
August 2015: Patti Garrett – August 2015 Food for Thought by Patti Garrett
July 2015: Engaging International Families in Parent Groups by Patti Ghezzi
June 2015: Reflecting on the Fourth of July by Kevin Abel
May 2015: Looking Back on Iraq by Whitney Kweskin
April 2015: All Hail Hall by Spencer Hall
March 2015: Honoring our Volunteers by Adriana Varela
February 2015: Celebrating New Americans by Charles Barnwell and Bob Glick
January 2015: What Refugees Leave Behind by Wendy Cheeks
December 2014: Welcoming Week in Atlanta by Emily Pelton