News from the Week of November 27th

We hope everyone enjoyed the Thanksgiving weekend with family and friends. We are encouraged that communities across the nation are showing support for refugees around the holiday season. Several communities in Virginia, Delaware and Colorado gathered refugees for a traditional Thanksgiving meal. In North Dakota, one group of refugee students showed their gratitude by paying it forward to fellow Fargo residents, handing out turkey and cranberries to the hungry. What could be more American than that?

In stark contrast to the holiday spirit, on Wednesday, President Trump retweeted inflammatory and unverified content from a fringe British ultranationalist group allegedly showing Muslims committing acts of violence. The tweets were swiftly condemned by British Prime Minister Theresa May as well as politicians across the spectrum as offensive, bigoted, and damaging to national security. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Mr. Trump was “legitimizing religious bigotry.”

In business news, WeWork—an office-sharing company operating in almost 60 cities—has a new goal: to hire 1,500 refugees globally. The company is also supporting military veterans by pledging to hire 1,500 veterans over the next five years. A WeWork spokesperson said the refugee and veteran hiring initiatives come "from our desire to connect talented and passionate people, and to build the best possible team of employees."

If you're passionate about protecting refugees, there are bound to be some tense conversations around the dinner table in the coming weeks. Click here to download a guide from our friends at Church World Service: “Surviving the Holidays: How to talk to family about refugees & immigrants.” 

Anti-refugee voices are often quick to characterize refugees as “fighting-age males.” But who are refugees, really? The State Department’s Refugee Processing Center finds that, in fact, from Jan. 1 to Nov. 1 of this year, more than half of refugee applicants were children. Recent research from the Washington Post suggests that, “when encouraged to think about how many refugees are women and children, Americans are less likely to see them as security risks.”

Have you started your holiday shopping? Avoid the long lines and check out our #VFAIGear e-store! Our made-in-USA, ethically produced merchandise is sure to be a hit. RCUSA has also compiled a list of refugee-made products to inspire you during the season of giving.

Refugee of the Week: Zak Idan, 29, of Tukwila, WA, is Washington state’s first Somali-refugee elected official. He came here from Somalia as a refugee when he was 11 and is now a U.S. citizen. Idan was emboldened to run for office by the president’s travel ban. “It made me want to show what the opposite of a banned people looks like,” he says. “That we’re visible, that we can contribute, and that we’re not going to hide.”