The Crisis

Helping our local immigrants and refugees helps our greater community be safer and more secure. But why stop at Washington?

In June 2017, the UN estimated that there were 22.5 million refugees worldwide. Refugees exist throughout the world in areas of conflict. The U.S. accepts a limited number of refugees each year. In 2018 the U.S. will allow in 45,000 refugees, almost half the number accepted in 2016.  

Washington has welcomed 32,898 refugees since 2003, representing 4.3 percent of the total number entering the U.S. That ranks us 7th among the states, according to the data from the State Department. California has taken in the most refugees — 88,032 — followed by Texas, New York, Florida, Minnesota, Arizona and Washington, in that order. More refugees have settled in Seattle than any other place in Washington — nearly one-third of the total. 

What it is like for them

A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Refugees leave behind jobs, houses, and personal possessions and endure great hardship in their fight for safety and survival. Over three quarters of the world’s refugees are women and children. Most refugees are able to return home at the end of a conflict or period of instability. Some refugees, however, are forced to remain in refugee resettlements if their home country remains unstable.

Refugees step off the plane with little more than the clothing on their back and the hope for a brighter future. Refugees come from traumatic experiences and work extremely hard to rebuild their lives in the U.S.

Their initial transition to life in the U.S. is difficult. They often face language barriers and struggle to secure living-wage employment. As a result, many are at risk of homelessness, suffer from loneliness and depression, and face great instability. And while many immigrants are not fleeing a country in conflict, they have similar challenges getting started here.

Recognizing the challenges that newly arrived refugees and immigrants face is just the start to helping.

Any income they can receive from our Refugee Artisan Initiative can help them enroll in English classes, apply for permanent U.S. residency, enroll their children in schools, address their mental health needs, and much more that supports their road to self-sufficiency.


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