Act now to save the next child

Photo of Syrian refugees fleeing to Turkey in 2014, by European Commission DGEcho, published under Creative Commons license.

Photo of Syrian refugees fleeing to Turkey in 2014, by European Commission DGEcho, published under Creative Commons license.

Abdullah Kurdi, father of the toddler whose body washed up on a Turkish beach, spoke to Reuters as the bodies of his wife and two young sons lay in a Turkish morgue:

“The things that happened to us here, in the country where we took refuge to escape war in our homeland, we want the whole world to see this,” he said.

“We want the world’s attention on us, so they can prevent the same from happening to others. Let this be the last.”

We can take concrete actions, tonight, tomorrow, the next day to save the next child. Actions carry no guarantees of success, but inaction ensures failure.

Action #1: Move our government to admit refugees.

The United States has accepted only 1,434 Syrian refugees during the past four years. That’s less than 400 refugees per year. That’s less than the number of refugees who have drowned in the Mediterranean this year alone. The Advocates for Human Rights blog issued an urgent appeal today:

“You and I must hold our respective governments accountable. We must confront the consequences of the world’s collective failure to help migrants escaping violence in search hope and safety. We must pressure our governments to turn toward, not away from, refugees.

“If you live in the United States, urge President Obama and U.S. Congress to increase the annual refugee admissions goal from the 2015 number of 70,000 to 200,000 for 2016.”

We have the capacity to handle hundreds of thousands of refugees As Amanda Taub writes in Vox:

“This country already has a large, expertly staffed refugee resettlement program that could handle the logistics of resettling Syrians, and a host of private charities that are experienced in helping refugees settle and integrate into communities across the country that could assist them when they arrive. We are the richest country on Earth, and opening our borders to more immigration would help this country to grow even richer. There is no serious argument against taking in more people.”

Addresses for President Barack Obama, Governor Mark Dayton, Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, and Minnesota’s congressional delegation are at the bottom of this post. (I sent short messages, also reprinted below — feel free to copy or adapt the language.)

Write today!

Action #2: Make a personal commitment

Iceland has a total population of 330,000, less than the population of either Minneapolis or St. Paul. When Iceland’s government said it would accept 50 Syrian refugees, citizens reacted with outrage and generosity, with 10,000+ individual offers of help and support pouring in to a Facebook page. Individuals offered everything from extra rooms in their homes to warm clothing and tutoring.

Action #3: Send money.

PRI offers one short list of organizations that are helping Syrian refugees. The U.N. refugee organization, Oxfam and UNICEF are bigger, older organizations that reliably deliver aid. Charity Navigator describes and ranks charities offering help to Syrians caught in the country’s five-year war.

Action #4: Get informed

Learn about the story behind the headlines. I’ve written a lot more about the refugee crisis, and each of these articles has links to many others:

Other recent articles include:

Horrendous as the plight of Syrian refugees is, they are not alone. Refugees continue to move across the world. As the Advocates for Human Rights blog points out:

“Thousands of children and families continue to arrive at the United States-Mexico border, fleeing horrendous violence in Central America. Many remain locked up in United States detention centers.

“In the United States, Central American refugees are met by a ruthless immigration system that jails them, denies their due process rights, mistreats the vulnerable, and fails to abide by international human rights standards.”

It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed — but if you are reading this, you are in a position to act now. You have a computer and you can start by sending a message to our government today.

List of official addresses (you may want to copy these or bookmark this page)

President Barack Obama

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Online contact form

Governor Mark Dayton
116 Veterans Service Building
20 W 12th Street
St. Paul, MN 55155

Online contact form

U.S. Senators

Senator Al Franken 

United States Senate
309 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-5641
Contact Senator Franken

Senator Amy Klobuchar 
United States Senate
302 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-3244
Web email form

U.S. Representatives

First District

Timothy J. Walz
1034 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-2472
Contact:
Tim Walz contact form

Second District

John Kline 
2439 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-2271
Contact form:
John Kline contact form

Third District

Erik Paulsen 
127 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-2303
(202) 225-2871
Fax: (202) 225-6351
Erik Paulson contact form

Fourth District

Betty McCollum 
1714 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-6631
Betty McCollum contact form 

Fifth District

Keith Ellison 
2244 Rayburn Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-4755
(202) 225-4886 fax
Contact form:
Keith Ellison contact page

Sixth District

Tom Emmer 
503 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-2331
Tom Emmer email form

Seventh District

Collin C. Peterson 
2109 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-2165
Collin C. Peterson email form

Eighth District

Rick Nolan 
2447 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-6211
Contact email form

My letter to the President, Senators, and my Congressional Representative:

Syrian refugees need our help. This is an international emergency, with refugees dying in the attempt to escape every day.

We failed Jewish refugees on the SS St. Louis in 1939. We are failing Syrian refugees today. Germany is admitting hundreds of thousands of refugees. The United States can and should do the same. Even without the prolonged and complicated applications for refugee status, the Department of Homeland Security could order Temporary Protected Status for Syrian refugee applicants.

It is long past time to act. Please move quickly and decisively to offer shelter and protection to Syrian refugees.

My letter to Governor Dayton:

Syrian refugees need our help. The current refugee quota is far too low. This is an international emergency, with refugees dying in the attempt to escape every day.

Minnesota has excellent refugee resettlement programs. We have a strong economy and should welcome refugees. Please use your influence to urge admission of an increased number of refugees this year and next year. Please tell the president that we in Minnesota can welcome and resettle thousands of refugees right here, right now — far more than the paltry number of 1,434 Syrian refugees resettled nationwide over the past four years.

It is long past time to act. Please move quickly and decisively to offer shelter and protection to Syrian refugees.

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1 Comment

Filed under human rights, immigration

One response to “Act now to save the next child

  1. Pingback: Need a little hope? Read on! | News Day

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