News from the Week of October 2nd

Here's the latest round-up of what we've been reading and watching this week, from the news and around the web:

In response to the administration setting a historically low refugee admissions goal of 45,000 for Fiscal Year 2018 last week, sixteen human rights and refugee advocacy organizations issued statements opposing such an abdication of American leadership—especially amid the global refugee crisis. VFAI leaders like Colin Raunig spoke out; and we issued an action alert to you, asking that you write your representatives, urging them to sign a House letter to the President expressing disappointment and calling for U.S. leadership on refugee admissions.

As we mourn the 58 lives senselessly taken in Las Vegas, we’d like to share this moving tribute to thirty-four year old Army veteran and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Officer Charleston Hartfield. After growing up in a rough Los Angeles neighborhood, Hartfield enlisted in the U.S. Army. He “went on to change hundreds of lives” as a mentor to his Army comrades and later as a police officer in Las Vegas. In his last moments, Hartfield bravely helped fellow concertgoers to safety before losing his life. As one of his Clark County colleagues said Tuesday, “He ultimately gave his life protecting others.”

Since August 25th, nearly 450,000 Rohingya refugees have crossed from Burma (also known as Myanmar) into neighboring Bangladesh, fleeing violence in the remote western state of Rakhine. These photographs, taken by American photographer Greg Constantine, shed light on the Rohingya refugee crisis, providing a window into this horrifying crisis.

In the past two decades thousands of Somalis have left their homes, fleeing areas controlled by the violet militant group, al-Shabaab. Unfortunately, they have often been “tainted by association” with that same organization. Their struggle to reach safety highlights the need for a shift in the narrative “from a growing emphasis on protection from refugees and back to an emphasis on protection for refugees.” 

This month, mark your calendars for Lampedusa: Concerts for Refugees. With dates in Seattle, San Francisco, Dallas and more, the tour features Joan Baez, Steve Earle, and more. Funds raised will support expanded educational opportunities for displaced people through the Jesuit Refugee Services Global Education Initiative.

Refugee Spotlight of the Week: A former refugee from Liberia's civil war, Faith Akovi Cooper overcame numerous struggles to build a successful career in disaster preparedness, and is now a proud U.S. citizen. Alongside VFAI members, refugee advocates, and faith leaders at a press conference at the Capitol last week, Faith shared her story and called on the administration to set a robust refugee goal. Faith emphasized her continued commitment to advocating for refugees: “If not me, then who? If not now, when?”