Who is a refugee? According to both international and U.S. law, a refugee is an individual who has fled his or her country of origin because of a credible fear of persecution on account of their race, religion, political opinion, national origin, or social group.
There are 21.3 million refugees worldwide. Over half of them are under 18 years of age. Although some do not, many refugees have higher education
Why is the Adventist Church involved? In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus calls His followers to care for the hungry, the thirsty, the foreigners, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned—and, we might include in today’s world, the refugees. We see a divine opportunity to both bless and be blessed by reaching out to refugees in our communities.
“…if we were quick in discerning the opening providences of God, we should be able to see in the multiplying opportunities to reach many foreigners in America a divinely appointed means of rapidly extending the third angel’s message into all the nations of earth. God in his providence has brought men to our very doors and thrust them, as it were, into our arms, that they might learn the truth, and be qualified to do a work we could not do in getting the light before men of other tongues. –Review and Herald, Oct. 29, 1914, and Evangelism, 570. (emphasis added)
Is it safe to support refugees from the Middle East? The U.S. government only admits those who have been thoroughly screened abroad. This process involves the U.S. Departments of State, Homeland Security, and Defense as well as the FBI and the National Counterterrorism Center.
The process generally requires at least 18 months and includes in-person interviews, biometric background checks, and interviews with third-persons who may have information about the individual being considered for resettlement to the U.S. Less than one percent of the world’s refugees are admitted for resettlement to the U.S. in any given year, so priority is given to those who are deemed to be most vulnerable, including a majority who are women or children.
The vetting process for those considered for refugee status is actually more stringent than that of any other category of visitor or immigrant to the United States. The U.S. refugee resettlement system continues to be a lifeline to desperate individuals fleeing terrorism and persecution.
What are refugees’ immediate needs? Refugees are welcomed at the airport by a case worker and volunteers. Newly arrived refugees’ immediate needs include:
A furnished home with basic furniture and other necessities
Warm clothes (if coming to cold regions)
Help with rent (after three months they are often expected to cover rent and utilities)
Healthcare (the family receives immunizations within days of arrival)
Nutritious, affordable food
English language classes
Transportation and help getting a driver's license
Help strengthening job, computer, and financial literacy skills
Education for the children
Social services and community support, especially for women who often stay at home
Refugee Processing Center Reports - updated monthly. NOTE: This is an excellent source of information including detailed information regarding the most recently arriving refugees by nationality by month and by fiscal year, by arrival city, by state, and by country, complete with distribution maps and reports of top ten languages spoken by refugees.