Open Letter in Support of Refugees in North Carolina
Organized by: Guilford Refugee Solidarity Network
In the spirit of giving and reaching out to those in need, a group of concerned citizens want to show our support for refugees and immigrants coming to North Carolina. Help us raise $7600 to cover the cost of a full-page open letter in the Raleigh News and Observer by December 31. By donating $10 or more, we will add your name as a signature to our open letter, if you so choose.
About the project
In the wake of the attacks in Paris almost a month ago, waves of anti-immigrant sentiments have been sweeping across our nation. Thirty-one governors have said they will refuse to welcome Syrian and Iraqi refugees in their state. Representatives and lawmakers at both the state and federal level, including some from North Carolina, have brought forth bills to ban any Syrian or Iraqi refugee from entering the United States.
Some presidential candidates have even called for such a ban to include all Muslims. Statements suchs as these impact all immigrant and refugee families, as well as those of other ethnic and racial minorities.
We believe that the lives of refugees and immigrants have great worth and dignity, just like the lives of US citizens. Help fund our letter and show lawmakers that we are open to accepting refugees and immigrants here in North Carolina.
Learn more here: https://www.facebook.com/events/875538912545029/
Send a strong message that North Carolinians welcome refugees
We want to place a community-powered advertisement in the News and Observer showing our support for refugees, immigrants, and all minorities and signed by people who welcome them to our state. We have chosen the News and Observer because it has wide-ranging readership across North Carolina -- including lawmakers in Raleigh.
We need your help
The cost of a full-page ad is expensive: $7600. We understand that money could also be used directly for those in need. But the majority of voices heard in the media on this issue are those who express anti-refugee and anti-immigrant sentiments. We want to change that.
We’ll clearly print the names of all those who pledge to fund at least $10, although you’re welcome to pledge anonymously if you don’t want your name in print. At $10 each, we need 700 people to donate, so please share widely!
Want to donate more? Please do! We’re counting on you to speak up and show lawmakers that that public opinion is on the side of refugees here in North Carolina.
If you want your name to be displayed in the open letter, please make sure you give your full name when you pledge.
What if we don't raise enough money for a letter?
If we do not reach our stated goal of $7600 by December 31, we will divide the money raised among the refugee resettlement agencies in Guilford County.
What Am I Signing?
Below is a copy of the letter:
During this holiday season, we would like to remind you that the United States was founded by people of faith, and from that foundation emerged a strong basis for social justice and human rights. In times of travail, we have found a path to maintain our core values: “To welcome the stranger,…Care for widows and orphans,… Love your neighbor.” It is the scriptural tradition of the three great monotheistic faiths, and these same principles are inherent in other great faiths of the world.
Our nation was founded by refugees seeking religious freedom and access to basic human rights. We gradually learned that these rights included women and people of color. The Civil Rights movement taught us to conquer hate with love, overcome fear with courage, and reduce ignorance with education. Historically the world has looked to the US as a model for human rights and opportunities.
We are a nation of immigrants built upon the strength of newcomers. However, prior to World War II we turned away dozens of boats harboring Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis and seeking safety. During World War II we put Japanese Americans into internment camps with no due process. However, after World War II we were instrumental in establishing the United Nations with a Universal Declaration of Human Rights, asserting that everyone had a right to a homeland. Signatory nations pledged to uphold those principles. In 1965 we passed a new immigration act which moved us away from our Eurocentric bias, and opened our country to others who had refugee status or could contribute to our country’s growth. After the Vietnam War we developed a sophisticated professional refugee resettlement program, the best in the world. This is part of our nation’s pledge to freedom, our claim to American exceptionalism, our key to economic growth.
North Carolina has had a model US refugee program according the federal government and is about tenth in number of refugees resettled in a typical year. NC is also a model in its community support, primarily faith communities volunteering and welcoming newcomers. Refugee arrivals include Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, and other smaller faith groups from 55 countries. They all have a well-founded fear of persecution, usually war related, and all have passed the intensive US screening process prior to resettlement.
Now, we have an international crisis, Middle East instability and ISIS terrorism. A quarter of a million Syrians have been killed, mostly Muslim. Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, and Iraq are providing shelter to more than 4.2 million Syrian refugees. Europe is potentially absorbing millions more, while Canada will welcome 25,000. Yet, some in the US are objecting to plans to accept 10,000 Syrians through the US refugee program.
After the tragic ISIS related bombing in Paris, Governor McCrory announced his plans to prevent Syrian refugees from coming to North Carolina. The federal government has approximately 13 different state of the art screening steps for refugee applicants. It takes on average two or more years to complete a refugee security clearance for those coming from Syria. Refugee placement, however, is federal law, not state, even though the state of North Carolina is notified every time a refugee is resettled here, and receives contact information through the resettlement agencies.
We urge our political leaders to remember the heritage of their faith and the principles of our nation. Open their hearts and welcome newcomers seeking freedom and protection. This is who we are and this is what makes our nation and community great. Let's work together to be a beacon for world peace, by modeling a welcoming community in North Carolina.