World Refugee Day was June 20th, and New American Pathways was thrilled to once again participate in the annual celebration at Refuge Coffee in Clarkston with our friends and partners at the Coalition of Refugee Service Agencies. Several hundred people showed up for this amazing event that featured performances, a welcome from Congressman Hank Johnson, and opportunities to tangibly support refugee owned businesses and take action with advocacy opportunities. And many people were happy just to have an opportunity to gather in person once again! The outdoor space at Refuge allowed for attendees to engage with the event at their own comfort level.
We enjoyed food from Refugee Women’s Network and Aleppo Kitchen, drinks from Refuge (with plenty of iced options!), and a wonderful program that included elected officials and performances from local groups. Inside Refuge, attendees had opportunities to write advocacy postcards and take photos to show their support. It was truly a wonderful evening and we are grateful for the many advocates and partners who came to celebrate with us!
As COVID-19 case numbers continue to decrease and we prepare to welcome more refugees to Georgia and the United States as a whole, we have much to celebrate. The Biden Administration is committed to rebuilding the resettlement program and refugee arrivals are beginning to increase in number. Representatives from the State Department visited Georgia during the week following World Refugee Day to learn about the work Georgia resettlement organizations and partners are doing, as we’ve gained national attention for our efforts and collaboration! However, our advocacy work is never finished and we still need your help to continue to show the Biden Administration that Americans believe in welcoming refugees and supporting people who are experiencing persecution.
As the United States prepares to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, there is increasing concern for the safety of the over 17,000 Afghan individuals who have worked for our military. They are eligible for the Special Immigrant Visa program, which allows them to come to the US and receive services under the refugee resettlement program here. Thousands of SIV applicants are currently stalled and these civilians’ lives are in danger when the United States leaves Afghanistan. We are joining many in calling for expedited action in the processing of SIV applications and the swift evacuation of these individuals and their families to Guam before the September withdrawal date.
As we end a month celebrating the joyful contributions of refugees approach the Fourth of July, where we celebrate our country’s founding, we hope you’ll join us in uplifting those ideals by taking action to support SIV applicants and their families. We have a blog post that details how you can get involved here.