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Refugee resettlement agencies are thankful to volunteers working to help refugees in the United States

How to help refugees in the United States: 12 ways to stand for welcome

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Photo: Lily Solmssen/IRC

The United States has a long, proud tradition of giving families fleeing war and persecution a chance to rebuild their lives in safety. 

After refugee arrivals declined by over 85% under the Trump Administration, President Joe Biden has a chance to rebuild the bipartisan, lifesaving refugee resettlement program. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is eager to work alongside the new administration, communities across the country, and both Republican and Democratic leadership to once again welcome refugees as new and valuable members of American society.

You can help at this critical moment. Find out all the ways to support refugees in your community and around the world:

1. Donate online

The IRC works in over 20 offices in the U.S. and more than 40 countries worldwide to help  refugee families survive and rebuild their lives.

Donations help us to continue this critical work. Monthly donations are the best way to help our programs continue uninterrupted, and to ensure our teams can respond to emergencies in the world’s toughest places and stay for as long as we are needed. 

You can also donate to your local IRC office (search for an office in your community here). And don't forget: You may be able to double—or even triple—the impact of your generous donation with a matching gift from your company.

Two IRC staff members wearing IRC shirts and hats stand next to a car with an open trunk. In the trunk are groceries they recently bought for refugee and immigrant families.

Staff in Tucson, Arizona, deliver emergency care packages to refugee families.

Photo: IRC

2. Donate goods

Some IRC U.S. offices welcome in-kind donations such as household goods, furniture, school supplies and gift cards to support arriving refugees. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many offices have been in need of masks to help refugees stay safe in their workplaces and schools.

For example, the IRC’s San Diego office recently put a call out to the community featuring wish lists for asylum-seeking mothers and their babies, Target gift cards and hand soap, cleaning supplies and other items for “health and safety kits.” The office also noted that donated cars in good working condition could be a big help to a newly-arrived refugee family.

If you are interested in making an in-kind gift or organizing a donation drive, please contact your nearest office to find out about their current needs.

3. Speak out

As a candidate, President Biden committed to restoring the bipartisan refugee resettlement program and admitting 125,000 refugees in his first year in office. He’s begun the process by raising the Trump Administration’s record-low Fiscal Year 2021 admissions goal. However, with only 2% of global resettlement needs met in 2020, the U.S. must do more. 

Refugees can't wait. Join us today in asking President Biden to raise the refugee admissions goal to 125,000 before the deadline this fall.

4. Spread the word

Make your values clear to the world by sharing this post on Facebook, Instagram or on Twitter.

You can also get the facts on refugee resettlement and share with your friends and family.

5. Volunteer

During the coronavirus pandemic, volunteers have continued to be an integral part of the IRC’s work. Many IRC volunteer positions are now done remotely; they include mentoring a family, tutoring a student, or even joining a “tech squad” to provide digital literacy education and general tech support.

Find IRC volunteer opportunities near you.

6. Help a refugee with their taxes

Taxes may not be the first thing that come to mind when you picture supporting refugees but you can make a big difference by assisting new taxpayers in filing their returns remotely. 

Refugees and immigrants make every effort to learn and adapt to American systems for essential services, and paying taxes is no exception. Unfortunately, some IRC clients may not be able to afford the tax preparation services that many Americans use or, for some, language barriers may make it a challenge to figure out which services they really need and which are optional.

You don’t need any experience for this opportunity—training will be provided—and you can sign up from anywhere in the country. Learn more here.

7. Fundraise

Let your community know you care—by setting up a Facebook fundraiser. It’s easy: just set a goal and reach out to your networks explaining why supporting refugees, asylum seekers and other displaced people is important to you.

8. Share refugee stories

Refugees and asylum seekers are people with lives we can all recognize. They are mothers and fathers, daughters and sons. They are neighbors, teachers, students, business owners and employees—including the essential workers keeping us safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Here are just a few stories to explore and share:

Meet courageous refugee artists

Explore powerful stories of the refugee and immigrant leaders who are helping to build back America

Stories of welcome: Refugees and their fellow Americans share how they have changed one another’s lives

9. Welcome a refugee

Refugees moving to a new city face many challenges and stable housing can be hard to come by. Open your home to refugees in the U.S. in temporary need of shelter through IRC partner Airbnb.

10. Invest in a refugee's future

Refugees are entrepreneurs, consumers and taxpayers, contributing to economic growth and creating jobs. Entrepreneurship among refugees is nearly 50 percent higher than among people born in the U.S.

You can lend your support by frequenting local businesses run by refugees or by employing a refugee in your company and encouraginge other businesses to do the same.

Learn about supporting refugees as an IRC corporate partner

11. Learn about solutions

Refugee resettlement is just one of many areas President Biden has the opportunity to transform; his administration can also make a difference on issues such as COVID-19 globally, climate change, and the asylum system at the U.S. southern border. 

Explore seven executive orders and other concrete actions the new administration can take—and, in some cases, has already committed to—within its first 100 days.

12. Stay informed

Sign up for updates from the IRC or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Jonathan Amissa, wearing scrubs, stands in front of a van with his hands on a stretcher. The van has a logo for Skyroad Medical Transport, his medical transportation business.

Jonathan Amissa, a refugee from Cameroon who owns a medical transportation business in Boise, Idaho, told the IRC: “I want the world to know that even with the pain and the struggle, and with the obstacles we’ve been through, we can still be part of a community that welcomes us. We are refugees but we also have potential and goals.”

Photo: Angie Smith/IRC

Thank you!

With more than 82 million people worldwide displaced by conflict and crisis, the need to provide refuge is more urgent than ever. All of us at the IRC thank you for your compassion and your commitment to the cause of refugees.

The IRC is consistently awarded high marks by charity watchdog groups for our efficient use of financial support and the effectiveness of our work.