As we face the largest refugee crisis in decades, with more than 89.3 million people displaced around the world at the end of 2021 (UNHCR), it is critical for individuals and communities across the United States to take action. One of the most meaningful ways you can do that is by developing a relationship with your elected officials, educating them about refugees, and urging them to support positive policies. It is important that policymakers at the national, state, and local level understand that 1) their constituents care about refugees, and 2) that refugees are their constituents—they live, work, and contribute to their communities, obtain U.S. citizenship, and vote.
When elected officials hear from their constituents, they act accordingly. Establishing and nurturing relationships with your legislators (Senators, Representative, Governor, Mayor, County Executive, State Legislators, etc.) is critical to enacting legislation that supports refugees and preventing harmful policies from being enacted. The most important part of any advocacy action is storytelling—a story about your personal connection to refugee issues, a story about how your community welcomes refugees and other newcomers, or a story about the positive contribution refugees make to your community.
Meet With Elected Officials: PCC4Refugees can help you research where your elected officials stand on refugee-related policy issues and contact the state/local offices to request a meeting. Depending on timing, you might be able to meet directly with the legislator, otherwise you can meet with their staff. You will want to bring your team-members to the meeting so that you have various people to A) facilitate the meeting, B) share personal stories, C) raise specific issues, and D) ask the legislator to support and/or oppose specific legislative proposals. It is critical to follow up with the legislator’s office after the meeting to thank them for the meeting and build a longstanding relationship.
Host a Call-In Day: Convene your team-members, coworkers, friends, and neighbors to make calls to elected officials at the local, state, and national level. PCC4Refugees can work with you to prepare a simple script and/or talking points that are specific to your city or town so that you can maximize the effect of your initiative.
Educate Your Community: You can host a public forum to educate your community members about the plight of refugees around the world and the importance of U.S. leadership in supporting, protecting, and welcoming refugees. Your event could take on various formats—panel discussion, film screening with Q&A, lecture with breakout discussions, etc. PCC4Refugees can work with you to determine the best option for your community, identify potential speakers, and brainstorm outreach tactics.
Network with the Peace Corps Community. We are a resourceful and supportive community. Stay connected with PCC4 Refugees and with others across the world who are serving refugees
Spread the Word: Use social media to amplify your voice, send a strong message to legislators, and educate others about complex issues. Below are sample posts for you to directly urge your elected officials to show leadership in responding to the global refugee crisis:
[@ElectedOfficial], my community stands #WithRefugees. Show that #AmericaWelcomes by supporting U.S. #refugee resettlement! #RefugeesWelcome
My values lead me to stand #WithRefugees who flee persecution. [@ElectedOfficial], please join me! #RefugeesWelcome
I urge [@ElectedOfficial] to join me in supporting + welcoming #refugees who flee persecution and have nowhere to go. #RefugeesWelcome
America is strongest when we welcome #refugees to our shores and weakest when we have shut our doors out of fear. [@ElectedOfficial], do you agree?
This information was put together in coordination with HIAS's advocacy team. If you have questions about the information here or would like additional help, please contact info@PCC4Refugees.org
Advocate Now! Learn How From The Refugee Council USA
Join with your RPCV affiliate or other organization to engage with policy makers on immigration issues. Read advocacy tips and download an excellent Toolkit for taking action at www.rcusa.org.