Fall 2019: More than a season, a reason to support.


Photo credit: NYT

Photo credit: NYT

We have been anxiously awaiting news on the “Presidential Determination” (PD), which came in early last week. The PD is an annual ceiling the Administration puts on the number of individuals with refugee status who are given the okay to resettle here in the United States. As of Tuesday, the maximum number for incoming refugees to the United States is 18,000.

That is an 83.6% decrease since 2016. That leaves less than 2 spots where there were 10.

As a social enterprise of Catholic Charities of Chicago’s Refugee Resettlement Program, Loom is committed to local, regional, and national refugee support. There are no two ways about it: there is a global refugee crisis. With every drop in the number of resettlement cases we support, there comes a drop in the funds and resources we rely on to continue said support. It’s a vicious cycle and one that will not be easily broken given the current decline in economic and cultural advocacy.

Photo credit Archdiocese of Rockford, IL

Photo credit Archdiocese of Rockford, IL

Many people in the US simply do not understand what we mean by “refugees.” There have been too many false narratives, inaccuracies and loaded buzzwords surrounding the issue in the recent past. Here at Loom, we are working to dispel some of the politicized myths about our residents with refugee status.

Refugee immigration IS legal immigration.

Individuals seeking resettlement in the US go through an extensive vetting process that includes interviews, background inquiries, documentation, and medical exams. This process can take months, years and even decades for some populations.

Photo credit Chicago Tribune

Photo credit Chicago Tribune

Refugees, and in particular refugee women, flee from war and violence in their native countries to start a new, safer life in another land. This process is heartbreaking and often arduous. Not only do many individuals leave family- often spouses, parents, and children- out of necessity, but some arrive at our airports with little more than the clothes on their backs.

It is here that they meet their resettlement case worker: someone to help them find a job, safe and secure housing, education for minors and other “survival” needs. Once established and where there is funding, case workers can continue to support their refugee clients for up to 5 years. Presently, however, with fewer and fewer agencies nationwide receiving adequate governmental money, existing case loads are bloated past capacity and current and future refugees find fewer and fewer options when (AND IF) their case is approved.

Where funding is a concern, recent research has concluded that refugees end up contributing about $21,000 MORE in taxes that it costs to resettle them. It is not “zero-sum” as has been suggested by officials: it’s a net gain. And it’s right and just.

There are nearly 70.8 million displaced worldwide. With this PD as it stands, that means the United States this next year will be accepting half of a half of a percent (0.026%) of that population.

Will we stand for this?

Will we turn our backs on the most vulnerable among us?

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Projects like Loom help Chicago women with refugee status- i.e. our neighbors, coworkers and friends- not only “survive” in their new home, but feel validated, welcomed, educated, and championed. The labor and creativity inherent in art-making is as much a part of humanity as language, tradition and homeland. When you support Loom, or Refugee Resettlement, you are helping to shape the lives of members of our global family, to extend our network of compassion and to bolster the pillars of love, liberty and justice for all.

For more information on how to help, please visit https://www.rescue.org/how-to-help.