As reported by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the world is facing the largest displacement crisis on record. Sixty-five million people have been forced to flee their homes by violence, persecution, and instability.
Many countries have given them sanctuary and assistance, so that families have shelter, medical care, and basic services, and children can go back to school and parents can go back to work. But the need remains great. And helping refugees isn’t just up to governments—every American can play a role, too.
The United States has a long history of welcoming people fleeing persecution and violence. Over the past 40 years, we have safely welcomed more than 3.2 million refugees representing more than 70 nationalities, helping them build new lives in all 50 states. Refugees enrich their new communities economically and culturally; many go on to be small business owners and serve in the U.S. military. Two of our country’s previous Secretaries of State were refugees.
President Obama announced that the United States will welcome more refugees from around the world, increasing the number of people we receive by 40 percent over the next two years, to 100,000 in 2017.
Refugees are the most thoroughly screened travelers to our country. This includes security checks, examination of all available biographic and biometric data, consultation of a broad array of law enforcement and intelligence community databases, and extensive interviews before they are cleared to travel to the United States.
As we welcome some refugees to our country, we also help the millions of others living elsewhere. Our country is the world’s largest single humanitarian donor. Each year we support programs across the globe that provide vulnerable families and children life-saving assistance, from food and water to medicine and shelter.
But addressing the current crisis isn’t just about what a government can do. It’s about what every single one of us can do to make sure that those who are displaced can find safe haven and a new start.