The city of Boise is a welcoming community made up of a beautifully diverse population. For years, it has served as a safe harbor for refugees, not only as a destination on their long journey to find asylum, but also as a place to call home. The process of resettling in a new country is difficult and involves culture shock, learning a new language, and redefining your entire life.
The stories of the members of our community that have come here as refugees are important and deserve to be voiced. Whether they can tell their story in English, or with the help of a translator, we are here to listen to their stories in their purest forms.
Since the presidential election of 2016, there have been significant cuts to the refugee admissions ceiling. This year, the administration seems inclined to continue this trend, likely lowering the limit to a historically low 25,000. With ongoing humanitarian crises all over the world, this is devastating news.
The administration’s intentions to limit immigrants coming into the United States seems to be based on xenophobia, with travel bans on most Middle Eastern countries, and enforcing strict immigration laws on the border with Mexico.
However, contrary to the anti-immigrant opinion, welcoming them to the U.S. does not harbor significant negative consequences to U.S. citizens. In fact, research has proven that immigrants — refugees in particular — offer many benefits to the their new home country.
New Americans in Ada County
Recently, a study by the New American Economy has show how refugees positively contribute to our community in Ada County. According to the study, “households in Ada County, ID contributed $1.8 billion to the county’s GDP in 2016…Foreign-born residents in Ada County also earned over $638 million and contributed $109 million to federal taxes and $49.6 million to state and local taxes that same year.”
Additionally, the study describes the refugee population in Ada County to be valuable workers. “Although the foreign-born made up 6.3 percent of the county’s overall population in 2016, they represented 7.5 percent of its working-age population, 7.1 percent of its employed labor force, and 12.4 percent of its STEM workers.”
Other important findings of the study include the following:
How You Can Help
The Agency for New Americans (ANA) is one of the organizations in Boise that help refugees in our community reach self-sufficiency. Unfortunately, limits and cuts on the refugee administration ceiling and federal funding directly impact the ability for such organizations to run. As Boise welcomes new Americans to the community, it is vital that the existing community come together to help.
This year arrival’s ceiling was 45,000 and the ANA has received less than 18,000 refugees. With a ceiling of 25,000 for 2019, how many refugees will come? These numbers are unheard of in the history of the program. 76 field offices have been closed since the presidential election of 2016, and the resettlement program is grasping for existence.
The numbers of refugees arriving in the U.S. was bigger at time of the previous recession and refugees were able to become self-sufficient and provide for their families. Luckily, the Boise community is filled with caring and generous individuals and organizations that support agencies like the ANA. There are many ways to help, including volunteering, donating, and employing refugees in your companies.
You can also help by advocating for refugees around the city. You can start by sending messages to your elected officials. Tell them that you support refugees and are against lowering the refugee admission ceiling, and that you support the long lasting tradition of this country of welcoming of the most vulnerable and advocate for saving the already-disseminated capacity of local offices. With your help, we can continue to improve the well-being of refugees in Boise and help them achieve self-sufficiency.