Dearest friends and supporters,
As many of us have felt, in New York, this country, and beyond, 2016 has been quite a rough and trying year. Many of us have been left asking, what can we do? Regardless of any outcomes, we now have to get ready for 2017 and will need a lot of strength and energy moving forward. And we are so glad to have you, our community, to take up our mission and double down on all efforts.
If only from having appointed Jeff Sessions as the next Attorney General, it is clear that Donald Trump intends to keep his hardline xenophobic positions towards refugees & immigrants. On this subject he has been rather consistent, and with the vague but threatening words he has had to say, for example in his 60 Minutes interview, we have to take him at his despicable words.
RIF is committed to steadfastly be at their side, as we know you are, too. The most vulnerable contingent of immigrants at the moment are the “Dreamers” who risk having to give up the integration and acceptance that the Dream Act provided. Refugees who have been vetted abroad to come to the United States, in particular Syrians, likely will never be able to come, at least under the Trump administration.
At RIF, we will focus on how the Trump administration will impact the plight of asylum seekers, and will count on you in the coming days to support and join our actions in any way you can.
In wanting to have a quick, thorough response, we have outlined several areas of focus:
1. Asylum seekers, fearing deportation, will prefer to stay off the grid. As such, they will become even more exposed to abuse and immigration scams.
2. Asylum seekers may have to wait ten or more years for an asylum decision, as the immigration courts promise to be even more backlogged than they already are. This will prolong the state of agony they experience, not knowing if they will be safe.
To tackle these issues yourself, we recommend:
1. If you have a space (gallery, studio, garage, basement, large living room, etc.) that we can use for meeting and gathering on a occasional basis, that would be a big help. We are seeking to create refugee safe spaces and sanctuaries, operated by citizens like you, all over the city.
2. Join our next food & clothing drive that will give the message to our asylum seekers that they are welcome. We will be holding these more regularly, so tell friends and family to join in as well!
3.If you are a mental health professional, you can sign up to do psychological evaluations that help lawyers to win asylum for their clients.
Finally, we want to thank all of you who have sent words of comfort and encouragement for our work, as well as those who send contributions.
Wishing you a wonderful Holiday Season.
Maria & Ellie