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The Yale Refugee Project's Statement of Solidarity and Support

To our Yale community and our New Haven community, to those refugee friends that our direct assistance team supports and those we have yet to meet, to those who have been unequivocally supportive of our work as well as those who have quietly or boldly spoken against what we do:


The Yale Refugee Project has never been more proud to be part of the refugee support community in Connecticut, and has never been more committed to creating safe, welcoming spaces for refugee young adults in New Haven. In light of the uncertainty that lies ahead for this nation and the fear many are already experiencing, we pledge to do our very best to support refugees -- those officially protected by the 1951 Geneva Convention and those not.


Donald Trump has consistently threatened the safety and well-being of Muslim people and Muslim refugees living in the United States. The Yale Refugee Project understands his to be an entirely unfounded fear and an egregious insult to those peaceful Muslim people in the United States and abroad. He has argued for the closure of our southern border to those fleeing war and violence. He has pushed for “immigrants” from Central America and Mexico to be rounded up and deported, sparing no costs. The Yale Refugee Project recognizes that the vast majority of these “immigrants” are asylum-seekers and refugees who deserve the support provided to resettled refugees.


Mike Pence attempted to illegally bar Syrian refugees from resettling in Indiana last year. The Yale Refugee Project is thankful and fully supportive that IRIS, New Haven’s refugee resettlement agency, welcomed those Syrian refugees. The Yale Refugee Project will continue to fight back and advocate that all refugees are awarded their due protections.


We are by no means alone in supporting the work that IRIS does in New Haven. Over the past year, Connecticut has developed a reputation for being one of the most welcoming states in the country. The support that refugees receive in Connecticut comes from members of the New Haven Community (and beyond) and from Connecticut’s state and municipal governments. Last Wednesday, November 9th, IRIS Executive Director Chris George was honored with the William M. McRae Community Diversity Award, annually awarded by Liberty Bank to an individual who has made a significant and ongoing contribution to the cause of promoting and celebrating diversity in New Haven. At the award ceremony, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, and a representative from Senator Chris Murphy’s office each expressed their immense respect for Chris George’s work, their pride in having IRIS as a part of their communities, and their support for refugee resettlement in New Haven. Chris George reiterated his conviction that resettling refugees is our most noble national tradition and continues to be critically important.


Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro included in her remarks a portion of The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus, a poem engraved on the tablet within the pedestal on which the Statue of Liberty stands:


With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"


The words and the permanent place they hold on the coast that has welcomed immigrants to the United States since this nation’s birth must be remembered in the coming days, months, and years. Whatever our next administration believes, we will continue to demand what we know is right, without compromise and with indefatigable vigor.


Thank you, to all who support us. Thank you to Dwight Hall at Yale for funding our work. Thank you to our volunteers. Thank you to the refugees who inspire us. We will always stand by you.


The Yale Refugee Project Executive Board


Harper Rose Loonsk, Co-President | Maria Sarahi Melchor, Co-President | Catie Liu, Secretary-Treasurer | Ilo Zak, Director of Direct Assistance | Sarah Donilon, Direct Assistance Coordinator | Michael Faucher, Advocacy and Awareness Coordinator | Rosa Shapiro-Thompson, Advocacy and Awareness Coordinator | Caterina Passoni, Advocacy and Awareness Coordinator

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