International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Refugees are a source of American strength

Winston Lord, the former United States Ambassador to China and Chairman Emeritus of the International Rescue Committee Board of Directors, explains why refugees are a source of American strength.

Refugees in the United States

The U.S. has a long tradition of offering refuge to those fleeing persecution and war. In 2011, the IRC's 22 regional offices helped resettle some 7,000 newly arrived refugees and provided services to over 24,000 refugees, asylees, and victims of human trafficking. IRC staff members and volunteers believe that refugees’ greatest resources are themselves. We help them translate their skills, interests and past experiences into assets that are valuable in their new communities.

Video Transcription

WINSTON LORD: Refugees are a tremendous source of strength in this society, and enriching it. They've suffered repression and persecution. They know what freedom means and they can fully appreciate America. And they work extremely hard and extremely productively to strengthen our society. And so it's very important in this debate,  which gets confused, to separate illegal immigration -- which is a genuine problem we have to solve -- from the strong fabrics in our society that are presented by immigrants that are legal and, above all, by refugees who are coming from harm to home.
Of course all of us at the IRC would love to go out of business: that we wouldn't have refugees and internally displaced around the world suffering persecution, fleeing from their homes. But given human nature and given history, I'm afraid we're gonna be in business for a long time. As long as we are I'm extremely proud of this organization. I've spent my career in and out of government, and every time I've come out of government the first thing I've done is to join the IRC again. So in terms of helping refugees abroad and resettling them here I'm very proud of the IRC and the leadership we're now exhibiting in the whole field.