A growing number of U.S. communities are choosing to welcome refugees with open arms in a pointed contrast to President Donald Trump's positions.
A sign of that embrace, Amnesty International USA said Friday, was the passage of a resolution by a Massachusetts high school declaring it to be a "Refugees Welcome" zone—the 50th such resolution to pass across the county.
"The student body of Westwood High School welcomes refugees and declares its support for the resettlement of refugees no matter their religion, race, nationality, sexual orientation, gender identity, or country of origin, in Westwood and calls upon other Massachusetts communities to join them in supporting a stronger national effort to resettle the world's most vulnerable refugees," the resolution states, according to Amnesty.
"As a community, Westwood is raising awareness of the danger that refugees are in and making a difference," said Ria Dani, the co-secretary of Westwood High School’s Amnesty International club.
The resolution is part of Amnesty's Longer Table initiative, which seeks to "build a movement of people uniting to welcome refugees in their own ways."
"When intimidated by the state of the world, some build a taller wall; we build a longer table," the group says.
When cities or schools pass refugee-welcoming resolutions, they do number a number of things:
- They send a message of welcome to refugees in your community
By passing a resolution in support of refugee resettlement, your community is standing in solidarity with refugees and drawing a clear moral line in the sand establishing what values your community does and doesn’t stand for.
- Influence Officials
Passing resolutions around the country shows elected officials that constituents like you support refugee resettlement, which can influence their actions.
- Change Starts at Home
The actual process of getting a resolution passed can increase awareness and knowledge within your community, combat xenophobia, and generate local press, which your elected officials follow closely.
- Not In Our Name
Elected officials need to know that they don’t speak in our name when they vote to keep refugees out of the country.
Other efforts include signing an online pledge to "build a longer table for refugees"; signing a petition to help a refugee; and hosting a social event in support of refugees.
"Contrary to federal policies that have needlessly and heartlessly sought to vilify people seeking safety, we have seen people around the country take concrete actions to show that refugees are welcome in their community," said Ashley Houghton, tactical campaign manager at Amnesty International USA, in a statement.
"All of us can play a role by letting our elected officials in the city hall, state house, and Congress know that we care about helping others," Houghton added. "We want our leaders to support laws that help refugee families who have nowhere else to turn by welcoming them as neighbors."
In a video for the project created by Amnesty International USA, the human rights group says, "Help us make America exceptional again through the radical act of kindness."