Refugee Valentines for Washington, Take 2
As many of you know, these are dark days for refugee resettlement. The Trump administration has capped admissions at 45,000--a historically rock-bottom number. As a reference point, the cap stayed around 70-80K under both presidents Bush and Obama but had been trending upward due to the growing world crisis of displacement.
The 45K cap is the lowest set by a president since the practice was mandated by congress in 1980. Yet, many experts in the field now believe even this number is very misleading. At the current arrival rate, totals will be closer to 20K this year.
To me this all feels like watching the slow-motion train wreck of something beautiful. Few things represent the values of human rights, freedom, opportunity, and hospitality better than resettlement. If you’re involved first-hand in resettlement locally, you know how it changes lives for the better—both for refugees and their host communities. Yet already resettlement agencies are experiencing significant budget cuts. Several dozen agencies across the country will be closing in coming months, leaving recently resettled refugees without access to the services that let them integrate into American life.
Last year, following the first travel ban, we sponsored a campaign to send granola to our elected officials. We called it a Refugee Valentine for Washington. It resulted in 30 officials (plus the staff in their offices) getting to try a hand-made granola gift. Some of these gifts went to vocal supporters (like RI's own Senator Whitehouse), others to outspoken opponents of immigration or refugee resettlement.
While we know that Beautiful Day is a pretty small organization with a pretty small voice, the truth is that we are deeply involved in solving the critical challenges refugees face to integrate in American communities. We also have a unique opportunity to put in the hands of our elected officials a tangible, edible, and delicious reminder that refugees are overcoming their challenges to enter the workforce.
This year we now have a bigger fan base that could conceivably reach a significant number of our elected representatives. So we’d love your help. We’re setting a goal of reaching 100 senators, representatives, and governors this year. Here's how you can participate.
Granola Valentine's have already been ordered for:
- Governor Gina Raimondo
- Representative David Cicilline
- Senator Jack Reed
- Senator Sheldon Whitehouse
- Representative James Langevin
- Senator Marco Rubio
- Senator Elizabeth Warren
- Senator Patrick Toomey
- Representative Drew Ferguson
- Senator David Perdue
- Senator Johnny Isakson
Pick out a granola gift! Last year many chose a Valentine's Day gift boxes or a bag of our Cherry Chocolate granola.* For congressional office staff we, recommend a box of granola bars that can be passed around and shared.
Write a personal note in the 'Additional Information' section at checkout. We will make sure this note is printed out and included. Here is a sample text:
My community stands ready to welcome refugees. We believe that welcoming and protecting refugees makes us stronger as a community and as a country. Enjoy these refugee-made granola and bars.
I urge you to to take action to protect the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program and Refugee Resettlement Agencies. Please consider the value that refugees add to our country, such as the ones who helped make this amazing granola for you!
Thank you for standing up and fighting for others to get their chance to find safety and rebuild their lives. Please enjoy these amazing refugee-made granola and bars.
Help us spread the word! Tell your family and friends or invite them on social media to participate by posting:
I sent [name of elected official] some refugee-made granola to let [him/her] know that welcoming and protecting refugees make us stronger as a community and as a country. You can too here: goo.gl/d1PhAX. #RefugeesWelcome #StandWithRefugees #ARefugeeValentineForWashington
* Anyone can give a single gift to a member of Congress. An organization that does not employ a federally registered lobbyist, such as Beautiful Day, can send food gifts to a House office for all the staff, the gift is considered a gift to the individual recipients and not to the employing Member. Each staff member may accept items from the fruit basket having a value of less than $50, provided that no recipient accepts more than $100 of gifts in the aggregate from the organization during the year.