Since 1975, the United States has resettled almost 3 million refugees and asylum seekers, more than all other resettlement countries combined. The most recent edition of the U.S. State Department’s eJournalUSA is entitled, Refugees: Building New Lives in the USA. It presents a number of moving stories about refugees and the Americans who assist them. From the introduction:
This eJournal USA chronicles lives of desperation and struggle but also offers examples of friendship and hope. In this issue:
• a boy is separated from his family and spends his childhood trying to elude the carnage of the Second Sudanese Civil War;
• a Cuban family of 10 faces persecution for their political beliefs in their home country;
• a young girl flees war and takes an uncertain journey across the Pacific;
• a man escapes ethnic violence in Rwanda and subsists on the street and in a refugee camp for 10 years.
All these people left their homelands and came to the United States as refugees, and all were met by American sponsors who helped them build new lives in the U.S. Through interviews and first-person accounts, our journal tells the stories of refugees who are building new homes and lives in the United States — and of those Americans who guide and help them.
Diversity and plurality are among the United States’ defining national characteristics. These national values inspire individual Americans to strengthen the country’s social fabric by welcoming and helping integrate refugees into U.S. communities. The resettled refugees in turn enrich American culture as well as the nation’s social, economic and legal framework.
The stories and articles in these pages explain the U.S. government’s commitment to help refugees and illustrate how that commitment is embodied by thousands of Americans who extend a hand to aid and befriend some of the nation’s newest — and bravest — residents.
The articles in the State Department journal highlight America at its best and remind us that our country has been greatly enriched by the refugees we have helped. I also learned that Gloria Estefan came to the U.S. as a refugee (p. 18) and that a church in my old neighborhood helped welcome Turkish refugees from Georgia and Uzbekistan (p. 21).