World Refugee Day 2018 – so much work still to be done

Dear Friends:

Today, June 20, is World Refugee Day. As an organization deeply connected to the 68.5 million people worldwide – including 25.4 million refugees – who have been displaced by war, violence and persecution, we recommit ourselves to our core mission:  helping refugees and immigrants succeed in the United States.

In advance of World Refugee Day, the United Nations released its annual Global Trends Report, which shows the number of forcibly displaced people at a record high.

Instead of a thoughtful response to this global crisis, the administration of Donald J. Trump, with support from many Americans, has increased deportations, reduced refugee admissions, separated Central American children from their families at the Mexican border, barred victims of domestic or gang violence from claiming asylum in the United States, ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and terminated the legal status of Central Americans and others.

The President and his allies have made multiple, direct attacks on the 2,000 people we serve each year – refugees, asylees, unaccompanied minor children from Central America, foreign-born victims of human trafficking, people who are paroled into the country from Haiti and Cuba, and other immigrants.

According to President Trump, these people do not belong in our country. In fact, yesterday he said that some of the people we serve “infest our country.”   We take strong exception to his comments and the policies of his administration.

It is clear now that the United States is repeating the tragic, unconscionable, and unpardonable mistakes of the past.  Prior to World War II, the U.S. rejected European Jews fleeing Nazi persecution.

Today, our nation is making it nearly impossible for Central American families fleeing violence to obtain asylum in the U.S.  And the holding centers erected to jail migrant children are reminiscent of the internment camps used to imprison 110,000 Japanese Americans during World War II.

We are in a shameful new chapter in the American story, and the International Institute of New England will not keep silent.

The International Institute is focused on serving every refugee and immigrant we can. Rather than shrink at threats from this administration, we have launched a Strategic Plan to double the number of new Americans we serve over the next several years.

On this World Refugee Day, we ask you to join us and others around the country who reject the policies and rhetoric of this administration, who are mindful of our history, and who are devoted to embracing newcomers as our nation has done for centuries. Together, we can prevent our country from repeating the most shameful moments of its past.

Thank you for being part of our community, and for standing with refugees and immigrants.


Jeff Thielman
President & CEO

How you can get involved

1) Attend Suitcase Stories on Wednesday, June 20 and hear, first-hand, the experiences of refugees, immigrants, and advocates living in New England.

2) Make a donation in support of IINE programs that help refugees and immigrants living in New England today. In June, your gift is matched by the generosity of the Seevak family!

3) Learn more about the UNHCR report on the global refugee crisis online here.

World Refugee Day at IINE

The IINE community is honoring World Refugee Day at all three of our sites on Wednesday, June 20.

  • In Lowell, more than 40 community volunteers are expected to attend a “Volunteer Appreciation” lunch and celebration. The students they support all year long have prepared a special surprise to honor them!
  • In Boston, volunteers from TripAdvisor will spend the day helping students in our ESOL programs practice their job interview skills.

In Manchester, New Hampshire, members of the IINE community are gathering for a potluck picnic and family time at a local park.