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By Ashley Coleman, Civic Engagement Manager at New American Pathways 

About the Author

“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.”

If you have come to this page looking for an older Thought Leadership piece, please scroll down to the archives.


A Vote for Resettlement is a Vote for Democracy

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.

Ashley Coleman joined New American Pathways this summer as our Civic Engagement Manager. Read her bio here. Interested in volunteering with Civic Engagement? Come to our next volunteer orientation!

Archived Thought Leadership Stories


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

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