Refugee Resource Group
“Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me….”
Jesus, speaking in Matt. 25: 34-35
The Refugee Resource Group is a diocesan group dedicated to helping the thousands of refugees in our area feel welcomed and supported as our neighbors. We have responded to their needs in several ways. Through the efforts of many churches and related groups in our diocese, our group has undertaken and completed these projects:
– Collected and delivered a large number of pots and pans, sheets and linens;
– Most recently, collected and delivered about 100 backpacks and lunch boxes for refugee children.
Currently, are donating these items through Catholic Charities, which has extensive connections with local refugees.
We have decided to focus this coming year on educating members of parishes in the diocese about who refugees are, as there are many misconceptions about refugees and what their status is. In particular, we hope to identify what refugee communities may be near our parishes, in order to encourage churches to be aware of their neighbors and help meet their needs. Our aim is also to provide information and speakers about refugees to both children and adults.
Who Are Asylum Seekers? How are they Diﬀerent from Refugees?
Asylum seekers are people who come to the United States seeking protection because they have suﬀered persecution or fear that they will suﬀer persecution due to race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. (Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services). If they are eligible for asylum, they may be permitted to remain in the United States. They must ﬁll out an application for asylum within one year of arrival in the U.S. They may include their spouse and children on the application until a ﬁnal decision is made on their case.
Refugees are people who live outside the United States and were forced to ﬂee across an international border to seek protection in another country. (Source: Episcopal Migration Ministries). They have the same fear of persecution as asylum seekers. The United Nations Refugee Agency determines that if a refugee cannot return to their home country or stay in the country to which they have ﬂed, they can be resettled to a third country, such as the United States. The U.N. Refugee Agency chooses the country for resettlement, subject to approval by that country. If that country is the United States, refugees then must be approved by the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. Refugees are matched with a national resettlement agency such as Episcopal Migration Ministries or Catholic Charities and must settle initially in the area chosen for them, where they receive temporary ﬁnancial help.
Once approved, both asylum seekers and refugees have the right to remain legally in the United States.