This World Refugee Day, the Arab-American Family Support Center stands with our community members who identify as refugees, asylees, and displaced individuals. We honor and recognize these individuals and communities throughout New York City and the United States, understanding that their paths are riddled with myriad barriers. For example, the current cap on refugee admissions is at15,000, a historical low in the United States. Many individuals simply seek a haven, family reunification, and a chance for economic opportunities.
Over 70 million people are displaced throughout the world (UNHCR). This number continues to increase as natural disasters, war, and genocide uproot people from their homes, forcing them to seek shelter and safety in other regions or countries. Historically, the United States was considered the leader in refugee resettlement, however that has changed in the past several years. While we see new policies that are more aligned with humanitarian values, there is still work to be done.
Due to the now-defunct, discriminatory Muslim Ban, the number of refugees entering the United States from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, and Somalia significantly decreased. From 2010-2020, 48% of refugees admitted were Christian, while 33% of refugees admitted identified as Muslim. This reflects the Islamophobic and anti-black policies preventing refugees from resettling in the United States.
AAFSC continues to be committed to our refugee and asylee community members, providing support through our Emergency Fund to help pay travel debts and offering social services through our array of programs. We know that life can be difficult in an unfamiliar city, and we remain committed to serving as a safe place for all. AAFSC collaborates with our community to ensure the safety of all immigrants and refugees, committing to empowering them and helping them reach self-sufficiency.
Through our work, we advocate with policy members to ensure there is linguistically appropriate and culturally responsive programming in place in healthcare settings, education, and more. We center accessibility in our programming, where our staff speak 27 languages, making our health insurance enrollment, domestic violence case management, mental health counseling, and other initiatives more effective. At AAFSC, we value the connections we have built with refugee resettlement organizations, elected officials, and community members. Our organization stands strictly against racism, colorism, classism, segregation, homophobia, xenophobia, sectarianism, sexism, ableism, ageism, and all other forms of oppression. We are just not allies; we stand in solidarity with immigrants and refugees from around the world, and vow to advocate, uplift, and provide platforms for those who identify as black, as Muslim, as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, and others who have experienced systemic discrimination. We look forward to building on the promising foundation introduced by the new administration that will build a safer New York and United States for all immigrants and refugees.