• A person outside his/her country of nationality or home country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution
  • on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
  • Meets the legal definition of "refugee" through a process administered by the UN Human Rights Council.
  • Receives government benefits.

Refugees Worldwide

  • As of November 2021, there are 84 million forcibly displaced people worldwide.
  • Of these, 26 million are classified as refugees.
  • 35 million are children, one million were born as refugees
  • 26 nations accept UNHCR refugee submissions
  • 85% of refugees are living in developing countries that are ill equipped to provide safety and basic necessities like clean water and food
  • Worldwide, 73% refugees were formally resettled in third countries in 2021.

Asylum Seeker

  • A person who is already in the U.S. or is seeking admission at a port of entry.
  • Still has to establish that he/she meets the legal definition of "refugee" through a
  • process administered by the U.S. immigration system.
  • Has no benefits upon entry.
  • Many asylum seekers face the prospect of prolonged detention.

Helpful Resources

Communities Are the Heart of Welcome

A Roadmap for Employers Hiring Afghan Newcomers

Women for Afghan Women

Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) Stories - Qahtan & Leen's Family (15 mins)

Eight Reasons Why People Immigrate to the U.S.

Immigration is defined as leaving one’s country of origin to permanently settle in another. In 2015, the U.S. had the largest immigrant population in the world at 47 million people. That is approximately 14 % of the entire US population. It is obvious given these numbers that America is perceived as being a good destination for individuals and families intending to leave their homeland. But why is this the case? The following are eight reasons why people choose to immigrate specifically to the U.S.. 

8. Higher Standard of Living 

The U.S. is often portrayed as the “promised land” where people can seek out a higher standard of living. This encompasses all aspects of life, many of which will be explored in further detail below. In short, it implies better opportunities in terms of education and jobs, allowing individuals to become contributing members of society. It can also include the possibility of health care or having access to everyday necessities not available elsewhere. 

7. Education

In 2015, 28 % of visas were granted for the purposes of school. For many families, the U.S. offers parents an opportunity to give their children a better education. School is where they are the most immersed in American society; proper support could bring them success and with it, plenty of options for the future. Older students might immigrate to enroll in programs that might not be available in their native homelands. The lure of America’s prestigious universities and colleges might certainly play a role in their choice of school as well. 


6. Job Opportunities

Along with education, many people immigrate to the U.S. seeking better job opportunities. In 2015, approximately 33 % of visas were granted to people looking for work. Sometimes they come having already been offered a job, while others come hoping to acquire one. Trends indicate that many immigrants move to areas where wages are higher and there are more jobs available. For example, before the 2009 recession, many people from Mexico came in search of work in the agricultural industry because the promise of economic prosperity was greater. And despite the myth that immigrants take jobs away from “born-and-bred” Americans, scholars typically agree that immigration has a positive impact on the labor market.

5. Reunification 

As its name implies, reunification is when people are reunited with a family member who already lives in another country. Ever since the laws were amended in 1968, reunification has become the most common reason for immigrating to America. A U.S. citizen or permanent resident can sponsor their parent, spouse, or child. The original family member can be living in the U.S. for any number of reasons, including work or even as a refugee. Recently, however, the president has been attempting to reform the policy by cutting family-based immigration, ultimately restricting the movement of foreign families.   

4. Marriage 

When two people who live in different countries want to get married, one usually moves to the other person’s homeland. This has become a common reason for immigration with the increase of online and long-distance dating. In the U.S., the couple can apply for the K-1 visa which allows the fiancé to enter the country as long as they marry within ninety days. At that point, the non-U.S. citizen can apply for permanent residency. It is such a common method of immigration, that certain people will go this route as an easy way around the system; however, marriages purely to obtain a green card is considered fraud and can lead to five years in prison and include a $250,000 fine.  

3. Persecution and Violence

Current events such as the Black Lives Matter movement is shedding light on the discrimination certain demographics face within the U.S.. Regardless, America is often viewed as a safe haven by non-US citizens enduring ethnic, racial, and religious persecution. Individuals and families seeking asylum from violence and war usually immigrate to the U.S. in search of safety and stability. If they live in conflict zones, they may be able to obtain a refugee status as long as they meet the definition and are of humanitarian concern to the U.S. government.  

2. Politics 

Oftentimes, such persecution and violence is a direct consequence of the political system that governs an immigrant’s country of origin. Many of these systems are totalitarian regimes that refuse to listen to the voices of the common people when it comes to matters that concern the nation and their wellbeing. As a democracy, the U.S. offers immigrants a chance for their voices to be heard. Of course, it does not always work out the way we intend, but the ability to vote is a right and privilege not given to many people around the world. 

1. Because it is America!

Posted by S. Jean Schafer

Freedom Needs Truth

October 21, 2020 

An open letter to Candidates, the Media, Political Parties, and Policymakers: 


As survivors, service providers, human and labor rights advocates, law enforcement officials, researchers and policy experts, we know human trafficking is real. For decades we have worked to raise awareness, enforce the law with a victim-centered approach, identify and aid survivors in their recovery, address underlying root causes, and establish policies to end this horrific crime. Our collective efforts have been aided by champions across the political spectrum. From Senators Sam Brownback and Paul Wellstone to Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the bipartisan message has been clear: 


You don’t score political points on the backs of human trafficking survivors, and you don’t lie about human trafficking to scare voters. We are in this together. 


It is with this collective and collaborative history in mind that we say we are alarmed and deeply disturbed by the intentional spread of conspiracy theories and disinformation about sex trafficking with the aim of sowing fear and division in order to influence the upcoming election. Anybody — political committee, public office holder, candidate, or media outlet — who lends any credibility to QAnon conspiracies related to human trafficking actively harms the fight against human trafficking. Indeed, any political committee, candidate, public office holder or media that does not expressly condemn QAnon and actively debunk the lies should be held accountable. 


Instead of actively propagating or silently condoning disinformation that harms trafficking victims and survivors and dismantles years of bipartisan cooperation, we offer the real facts about human trafficking. 


The majority of trafficked youth have been abused or neglected, have run away or don’t have stable housing, or are immigrant children fleeing violence in their home countries to seek refuge in the United States. They are the youth that we as a society have failed. They are not abducted by strangers or Hollywood elites — they are abandoned by failing and under-resourced systems. There is not a deep state cabal of Democratic politicians and Hollywood celebrities who traffic children for sex. No major political candidate or party supports or condones pedophilia or human trafficking. 


We work on these issues. We would know. Any time we spend engaging these lies necessarily distracts from the real work needed to combat human trafficking, and there is a lot to do: 

• We need policies that address systemic vulnerabilities of children to both sex trafficking and forced labor. 

• We need more housing, social, legal and employment support for survivors and vulnerable youth. 

• We need to invest in fixing the child welfare system, and building compassionate and robust responses so that meaningful support is available for any young person in need. 
• We need to invest in better training, strengthen victim-centered investigations, and expand survivor access to alternative forms of justice. 
• We need better data, and greater diplomatic engagement so that human trafficking doesn’t get sidelined as a soft issue to be addressed after “real” foreign policy. 
• We need an end to discriminatory practices against immigrants and communities of color. 
• We need accountability for corporations who can figure out how to maximize profit but not how to protect their workers. 
• We need funding and systems change that reflect these needs, not craven political messaging that ignores these realities in service of harmful lies. 

As a diverse field, we acknowledge a spectrum of experiences, views, and approaches. We disagree a LOT. On this though, we stand UNITED and we reiterate: Anybody — political committee, candidate, or media outlet — who lends any credibility to QAnon conspiracies related to human trafficking actively harms the fight against human trafficking. This is an issue where Republicans and Democrats have historically put real differences aside in service of a greater truth: Americans stand united against human trafficking. 


On behalf of an underfunded and nonpartisan field dedicated to ending this horrific form of exploitation and abuse and helping those who have survived it, we urge you to engage real needs rather than politically motivated and profoundly dangerous narratives that harm the very people who they claim to be speaking for — victims, survivors, children, families and vulnerable communities. Signed,

3Strands Global Foundation 

Advocating Opportunity 

Amara Legal Center 


American Gateways 

Americans for Immigrant Justice 

Arizona State University Office of Sex Trafficking Research 

ATEST (Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking) 

The Avery Center for Research and Services 


Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking 

Community Legal Aid Society Inc. (CLASI) 

Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants 

Corporate Accountability Lab 

The Exploitation Intervention Project 

Foreign Policy for America 

The Freedom Fund 

Freedom Network USA 

Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, Yale University 

Give Way to Freedom 

Global Center for Women and Justice Vanguard University 

Global Fund to End Modern Slavery 

Grace Farms Foundation 

HEAL Trafficking 

Heartland Alliance 

HIAS Pennsylvania 

Human Rights First 

Human Trafficking Collorative Network 

Human Trafficking Institute 

The Human Trafficking Legal Center 

Humanity United 

Institute to Combat Trafficking 

International Corporate Accountability Roundtable 

International Institute of Buffalo 

International Justice Mission 

International Organization for Adolescents (IOFA) 

International Women's Media Foundation 

Jewish Women International 

Justice At Last 

Justice in Motion 

Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice 

Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services 

Liberty Shared 


McCain Institute for International Leadership 

Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare - North 

Migration that Works 

Mosaic Family Services 

National Network for Youth 

National Organization for Women, Hollywood Chapter 

National Survivor Network 

New England Coalition Against Trafficking 

New Hampshire Human Trafficking Collaborative Task Force 

North County Lifeline 

North River Law PLLC 

North Texas Academic Collaborative on Trafficking 

Open Society Foundations 

Phoenix Dream Center 


Preble Street 

Project iRISE 

Quinnipiac University School of Law Clinic 

Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association 

Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism 


Sanctuary for Families 

Shared Hope International 

Solidarity Center 

Stardust Fund 

T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights 

Tivnu: Building Justice 

U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking 

Union for Reform Judaism 

University of Maryland SAFE Center for Human Trafficking Survivors 



VIDA Legal Assistance, Inc. 

Volunteer Lawyers for Justice 


Worker Justice Center of New York 

YWCA Kalamazoo 

Additional signers as of Oct. 22, 2020: 

Academy on Violence and Abuse 

Albany County Crime Victim and Sexual Violence Center 

Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives 

Karana Rising 

Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking 

Leadership Conference of Women Religious 

Mid-Atlantic Coalition Against Modern Slavery 

National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd 

National Council of Jewish Women-St. Louis Section 

Project NO REST 

Resiliency Foundation 

Salvatorian Advocacy for Victims
of Exploitation (S.A.V.E.) Inc 

School Sisters of Notre Dame Atlantic Midwest Province 

Srs. of St. Joseph of Cluny 

St. Louis Children's Hospital 

Stop Modern Day Slavery 

Teens Against Child Trafficking 

Trafficking in America Task Force 

Zero Abuse Project 


Salvatorian Sisters in Europe Give Housing and Aid to Ukrainian Refugees

The Sisters of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians) are gathering supplies and opening their convents, retreat centers, schools and hearts to assist the many people fleeing the warned destruction in Ukraine.

If you are able to donate to this cause, this money goes directly to the Sisters to support their efforts. Thank you!

Ukrainian Children in Polish Kindergarten


Sister Noemi Raczkowska SDS, Provincial Superior of the Salvatorian Sisters in Poland, says, "Fear, tears, joy, hope, and gratitude mix on the Polish-Ukrainian border. The President of Poland assured that all residents from Ukraine are allowed into Poland, both those who have passports and those who have no documents. Over the past few days, we have received refugees from Ukraine, who originate from 170 countries around the world.” 

Sister Noemi adds: “We want to help and open wide our hearts to the needs of Ukraine and all refugees who, unable to fight, seek shelter in Poland. In our diocese, we have declared our readiness to receive people in our house in Goczałkowice. We have to provide the refugees with housing, food, clothing, etc. We don’t know how long this care will last, so we also need to help these people find work. Refugees want to be in big cities, where in turn it is easier to get a job. They need to be skillfully distributed throughout the country. They come with nothing, they need help. 

People in Poland are very supportive. My heart grows when people unite. Every day transports with food, sandwiches, hot soup, medicines, and medical equipment leave for Ukraine, and on their way back to Poland sick patients are evacuated. There are a lot of volunteers, there is great zeal in our nation. I can’t find the words to describe it all. Sisters and brothers – thank you for your support and most of all for your prayers.” 

Donations will be gratefully received and sent directly to the Salvatorian Sisters in Poland.

Germany and Austria

The Salvatorian Sisters in Austria and Germany are actively involved in welcoming the people from Ukraine who are fleeing the violence of the Russian invasion. Their welcome shows both a compassionate response to needs and a remarkable sense of hospitality.

The refugees’ first encounter with the Sisters is at the Ukrainian border. The Sisters are there, providing emergency aid and relief to those in need. Once the refugees arrive in Austria and/or Germany, the Sisters are providing them with housing in apartments and furnished rooms in their retreat houses and conference centers. They also accompany the people, mainly women, children, and the elderly, to doctor visits and medical appointments to see that those in need receive care.

The Sisters are committed to getting the Ukrainian children back into kindergarten and school. This includes providing language support and translation for the students. And they are helping the adults re-enter the job market and find work.

Finally, the Salvatorian Sisters understand the needs of people who have experienced trauma, as the refugees have experienced, so they are providing leisure activities such as excursions, short walks, etc. to create a distraction for a few hours; community events to connect them with each other; some small cultural activities; and spiritual and psychological support.

They urge us all to pray for peace and for the people whose lives are affected by this unprovoked war.

Donations will be gratefully received and sent directly to the Salvatorian Sisters in these countries.

Learn More of the Plight of Some Immigrants Who Become Trafficked

Due to vulnerability caused by poverty, war, climate disasters, crime and other factors, people are tricked into manipulation through force, fraud or coercion. This entrapment results in human trafficking. It enriches the perpetrators at the expense of vulnerable women, men and children. 

To learn more about all aspects of human trafficking, visit the website of the U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking.

Basic Life Skills for Living in the U.S.

For people who arrive in the U.S. not speaking English and not knowing basics about how society functions, the list of skills can be a starting point for assisting them to gradually learn how to function effectively and safely.


  • Structure of the U.S. government at the federal, state, and local levels and who are currently in office 
  • How and when to call 911
  • Ways in which the local police are trustworthy and helpful
  • What happens when someone breaks a law
  • Understand the map of the USA and its various time zones
  • Know the American holidays
  • How to find national, state and local parks and museums and know what they offer
  • What you can learn and do at local public libraries


  • Manners – how to introduce people and start a conversation; how to set a table for eating with guests
  • Phone etiquette (answering, returning calls, asking for info, ordering)
  • How to use public transportation
  • How to order and pay for food in a fast food restaurant or dine-in restaurant
  • How to use escalators, elevators, and revolving doors
  • How to cross streets at cross walks and with traffic lights
  • Self defense: do not ride with strangers or walk alone at night
  • Why we do not give money to or share private information with door or phone solicitors
  • Why we do not litter
  • What to do in a weather emergency (tornado warning, earthquake, etc.)
  • Rules for bike riding (use of helmets, obeying traffic laws, getting air for the tires, etc.)


  • Rules/expectations while renting a home/apartment
  • Homeowner’s and renter's insurance
  • How to organize a house; where to get help with repairs
  • How to operate a stove top and oven
  • How and when to safely use cleaning products
  • How to change a light bulb, a battery, a furnace filter, smoke alarms
  • How to use a microwave, a can opener, a blender
  • What items require refrigeration or freezing
  • How to operate a washing machine and dryer
  • What clothing needs to be dry cleaned and why
  • Why and how we recycle
  • Basic fix-it skills and troubleshooting for the home
  • Air conditioning/heating and plumbing - basic trouble shooting
  • How to unclog a sink or tub drain


  • How to drive a car
  • Meaning of road signs and signals
  • Why seat belts are mandatory
  • Defensive driving concepts
  • Understanding the dangers and penalties of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • How to pay at metered parking or in parking garages
  • How to buy a used car and get it legally registered
  • How to look for and obtain auto insurance 
  • What to do in case of an accident
  • Importance of regular auto care (put correct gas in the car; replace fluids, change oil and filter, change a flat, jump the battery)


  • Typing and computer skills
  • How to read want ads
  • How to fill in a job application
  • How to write a resume
  • Job interview skills
  • Effective communication skills; difference between communication and conversation
  • How aptitudes and strengths influence work success
  • How to build and work with a team
  • How to work with difficult people
  • How to resolve conflict


  • Budgeting/money management
  • How to write a check and balance a check book, how to manage on-line banking
  • Importance of paying bills on time
  • How to understand parts of a pay stub
  • How to invest and save for retirement
  • How to apply for a mortgage, steps of buying a house


  • How to shop at a grocery store
  • Understanding sizes of clothes, shoes, etc.
  • How to buy indoor and outdoor clothes appropriate for various seasons of the year
  • Where to find bargains
  • Understanding store hours in different types of stores
  • Ways to pay for purchases
  • Rules regarding purchase of alcohol and cigarettes


  • Why talking to an infant in English is important
  • Why we do not spank our children
  • Types of and importance of immunizations
  • How to talk to your infant’s health care team
  • Fun games for children of different ages; where to find these games


  • Essentials of self-respect and self-love -- foundational skills in relationships
  • Healthy sexuality
  • Why we do not use physical means to discipline others
  • Americans celebrate birthdays and anniversaries of relatives and friends
  • Effective communication skills
  • How to resolve conflict
  • Differences between passive, assertive, and aggressive behavior and communication
  • Discussions on dating violence; effects of verbal abuse
  • Why some people are registered as sex offenders 
  • What to look for in choosing a person to share your life with; how to nurture a marriage relationship


  • Personal Hygiene: taking regular showers or baths; washing hands after using the toilet; use deodorant, sanitary napkins
  • Dental Hygiene: how to brush teeth, use dental floss
  • Sleeping  – its importance, healthy sleep habits
  • How to deal with stress in a healthy way
  • Addiction issues; how to get help with an addiction
  • Finding types of exercise that can be done throughout a lifetime
  • How to make doctor and dental appointments
  • First aid and CPR; how to put together a “natural” medicine kit
  • How and where to purchase non-prescription and prescription medicine and follow directions for using these
  • Where to find a walk-in clinic in an emergency
  • How to deal with medical bills and insurance

For a comprehensive listing of skills, see: Mary Pipher's book 'The Middle of Everywhere' and

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