"Growing New Roots in a Safer Land": A Reconsideration

For many years, our slogan at RIF Asylum Support has held the promise of “growing new roots in a safer land.” These words have bred hope for the thousands of asylum seekers that come to New York every year in search of protection and safety.

As the results of the election rolled in– that Donald Trump would be the next President of the United States– many of our clients reached out to us in sheer panic.

After calling me frantically, a woman from Haiti wrote, “I'm sorry for my tears and cries on the phone, but I feel more vulnerable now more than before. I keep hoping but the shadow of his words keeps hunting me. Donald Trump's words hurt my soul.” This message came from Doloreste, who fled violence and persecution in Haiti as she wondered, would she would now face persecution in the United States?

“Such a terrible news and I am scared for my asylum application. As if I have no longer hope in my future,”  said She Wei, an asylum applicant from Burma.

“I am panicking.” wrote Gab, an LGBT asylee from Columbia who is now a permanent resident.

Clearly, Donald Trump’s victory is not only reviving traumatic events from the past, but also fears of future persecution in the land where they came to seek asylum. The next emotion setting in seems to be a sense of despair in not knowing where to find safety and relief.

In light of the President-elect’s promises, as uncertain as they may be at this moment, we can no longer earnestly describe the US as a “safer land.” We feel that doing so would serve to delegitimize the very real fears of the people we serve.   

Photo by James McCracken 

Photo by James McCracken 

That being said, RIF will not be defeated by fear, and we will not back down from our mission of welcoming refugees to the United States. In fact, our efforts to advocate for safe spaces for refugees will only grow in response to a Trump presidency and our new slogan will read, “Growing safe spaces for new roots.” We will carry out our mission in this altered political environment by:

1. Keeping our clients informed about new developments regarding immigration policy and how it applies to their cases so that they feel less helpless, and more empowered to take action.

2. Increasing our advocacy efforts in order to elevate the voices and struggles of refugees to a broader audience, and to make sure that their basic human rights are being respected.

3. Continuing to engage and call on friends and supporters to join us in these efforts, and keep you informed on how we can act collectively.

Over the years, our clients have taught us a lot about resilience in face of adversity.  Each time we witness what they accomplish in spite of all that is stacked against them, we are inspired to move forward, and to keep fighting for the rights we so strongly believe in. We have witnessed first hand that the best way to heal is by cultivating community around a shared principle of boundless connectivity and cooperation.

Together, we will grow safe spaces that are needed more than ever.

Maria and Ellie
Photo by Anne Saint-Pierre

Photo by Anne Saint-Pierre

 

Post-Election Testimonies

Sincerely i feel scared, concerned about what tomorrow will bring for me in this country that i cherish by the great hope it will carry all of my dream as young black woman. Today i don't know how should i have to think and in what should i believe.
 
Like many other asylum seekers, I am somehow not too happy with the outcome of the election having listened to all he said during the campaign about immigrants, specifically Asylum seekers. - Anonymous
 
Hope so things will not become worst for us because you always stand with us. - Nadia (Pakistan)
 
Thanks for your support do you have any idea of what's going to happen to our case - Inoussa
 
Thank you Maria. I thank God, I'm feeling well and free in my mind. The world couldn't make in one day. Don't worry, we'll strong like you. The best!  - Pap
 
Honestly I am scare. - Hamid (Morocco)
 
Such a terrible news and I am scared for my asylum application. As if no hope for my future.Thank you for your support. - She Wei (Burma)
 
I'm sorry for my tears and cries on the phone, but by feeling that i'm more vulnerable, invaluable now more than before. i keep hopping but the shadow of his words keeps hunting me. Donald Trump's words hurt me to my soul.  - Doloreste (Haiti)
 
I am panicking. - Gab (Colombia)