6 Ways that Refugees Benefit Our Communities

July 27, 2017

Cartoon of a neighborhood

The Story of America

Try to imagine America without immigrants and refugees. It’s impossible. It’s like trying to imagine a pint of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough without the chunks of cookie dough — it just doesn’t make sense.

And yet here we are, in the midst of one of the worst refugee crises in history and the Trump administration is trying to ban people from six majority-Muslim countries from entering the so-called land of the free. We think that’s wrong — as a pint of Chocolate Fudge Brownie with no brownie chunks, in fact.

The Statue of Liberty proudly declares “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” If you believe in America, you should believe in supporting refugees. Here are some ways they are benefiting you:

  1. Blue Jeans, Hot dogs, and Donuts. That's America, right?

    USA! USA! What a place! And what could be more American than things like hot dogs, blue jeans, donuts, and ketchup? Guess what? Those icons of the American way of life were invented or created by people who came here from other countries. America as we know it could not exist without the contributions of refugees and immigrants. Anyone want to join us in a round of “God Bless America” (written by Irving Berlin, an immigrant from Siberia)?

  2. Turbo-Boosting Our Economy

    Lots of studies highlight how refugees can give communities, cities, and the country overall a big economic boost. Just think of the impressive range of experience so many refugees bring to the US: they’re doctors, farmers, engineers, scientists. And even though they may start out in low-level positions, before long they’re dreaming big and starting businesses of their own.

  3. They Keep Us Young. Literally.

    Many developed nations are facing a big challenge. Their populations are growing gray, so sometime in the not-too-distant future, the number of retirees is going to surpass the number of workers. That’s bad! It can lead to economic and even social unrest.

  4. Remember the Theory of Relativity? We do.

    Science today would look very different without the contributions of Albert Einstein. What most people don’t know about this wild-haired brainiac is that he was also a refugee who fled Germany to reach safety in the US. In fact, in 2016, six scientists from the US won a Nobel Prize — and all six were immigrants. If we close our borders, who knows what epoch-making breakthroughs and innovations we’ll miss out on?

  5. Diversity Benefits All of Us

    It’s been shown that diversity makes us smarter, more creative, and harder-working. Not only that, it’s equally clear that the benefits of diversity can start at an early age: research indicates that diverse classrooms provide big advantages to students, like higher test scores and a higher likelihood of enrolling in college. And while challenges—like overcoming systemic racism—remain, diverse societies nonetheless tend to thrive, economically and culturally.

  6. Welcoming Refugees Fulfills America’s Promise

    We referred earlier to “The New Colossus,” the poem engraved on a plaque inside the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal. You know, the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” “Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,” the poem ends. “I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” The Trump administration wants to close that door, so it’s up to us to make sure it stays open. It’s up to us to keep Liberty’s torch burning.

Today we stand with the many states that have been welcoming refugees. We stand with those who want to help refugees. And we ask that you stand with us and our partner, the International Rescue Committee (IRC), to ensure that America always opens its arms wide to the world.