News from the Week of September 16th

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On September 17th, 1787, America’s founding fathers signed our country’s most prized document at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Army veteran and VFAI leader Arti Walker-Peddakotla reflected on this historic day about the oath she took to defend the Constitution and the American ideals she fought to protect.

“As we celebrate our Constitution today, I ask my fellow citizens which version of America they will choose. Will you honor the vision of America that soldiers like me have fought to defend, or will you keep supporting an America that is eroding away essential freedoms and basic human rights?”

 

On Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the administration’s goal for refugee admissions for Fiscal Year 2019—setting the cap at an all-time low of 30,000. This number represents a 15,000 drop from last year’s 45,000 ceiling and marks the lowest cap in the refugee program’s history. In a press release on Monday, Jennifer Quigley, our colleague at Human Rights First, noted:

"Our nation was founded on the backs of refugees, and our country has been enriched by these brave individuals who come here to rebuild their lives in safety. By setting the lowest refugee cap in history, we have turned our backs not only on those in dire circumstances abroad, but on our own American ideals."

 

In response to the Trump Administration’s dismal admissions ceiling, former refugee George Tarr wrote of the importance of the program. George’s family fled Liberia and lived in a refugee camp in Ghana for over a year before resettling in the United States. Today, George is completing his degree in Political Science at Brooklyn College and plans to enter the Foreign Service upon graduation.

“These cruel policies do not reflect the America I have come to know and love, or the values of the people in my community…The truth is that refugees are strong and proud members of our cities and towns. We are as proud of our country as those who were born here, maybe even more so. It’s hard to take something for granted when it saved your life.”

 

This week, the VFAI team has been hard at work advocating for our wartime allies. On Wednesday, a coalition of veteran service organizations including Veterans for American Ideals, High Ground Veterans Advocacy, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, No One Left Behind, and Vietnam Vets of America, called on members of Congress to allocate 4,000 Special Immigrant Visas through the Afghan SIV Program. Read the coalition letter here. We encourage you to join the fight by urging your member of Congress to support our Afghan allies.

 

Bernie Stone served in the United States Army for 20 years, deploying to South Korea, Germany, Kosovo, Estonia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan. In a Des Moines Register piece published Tuesday, Bernie called for the United States to fund the International Affairs Budget and reignite our diplomatic development and aid programs. He emphasized that we must protect our interests abroad not only through military engagement, but also through economic relationships and foreign assistance.

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