Overshadowed by daily controversies, a hugely significant change in U.S. policy was announced last week. It will steal hope from thousands of the most desperate people in the world.
The State Department announced that the U.S. will accept no more than 30,000 refugees this year. That’s 15,000 fewer than last year. In 2016, we accepted 85,000. Since 1980, the cap has been set at an average level of about 95,000.
Refugees have been forced from their homes by horrendous violence at the hands of tyrannical governments or driven out by famine and terrorism. Thousands more will be left with no way out because of the State Department’s decision.
Our state has its own black eye: the outpouring of hatred and vitriol that descended on Twin Falls two years ago following a slew of erroneous reports from the likes of Alex Jones, who was ultimately forced to issue an on-air apology to the people of that city when he settled a defamation suit.
Even as the number of people displaced and persecuted around the world grows, our elected leaders and bureaucrats have decided to shoulder a smaller and smaller burden.
We’re falling down on the job. As a nation, we are failing to meet our basic human responsibilities.
The United States was long known for its greater willingness than any other nation to accept those “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Now Canada, a much smaller nation, puts us to shame.
But, in our own community, there are young men and women who provide us with a better example of moral conduct than federal agencies in Washington or raving conspiracy theorists looking to whip up fear and hatred.
Project R, a group of Brigham Young University-Idaho students, have committed themselves to provide comfort and aid to the afflicted.
According to the BYU-Idaho Scroll student newspaper, Project R was started by Lok Darjee, a physics student who came to the U.S. as a refugee in the 1990s when the nation of Bhutan began expelling people of Nepalese origin.
“They are victims of war,” Darjee told the Scroll of those fleeing Syria. “They are victims of terrorism.”
The group of students has been involved in a variety of measures to support refugees, including providing tutoring to refugees living in places ranging from northern Utah to Europe through Skype. They’ve also been involved in raising funds to assist the efforts of the refugee center at the College of Southern Idaho.
The group’s latest effort is a 5k run to raise funds and awareness for refugees scheduled for next month. It’s been organized by A.J. Frazier and Michael Omokoh, both BYU-Idaho students.
Frazier said they were inspired to organize the event several months ago. The group has diligently raised funds to purchase 100 T-shirts to be used by runners at the event. With an entrance fee of $10, they hope to raise $1,000 for the refugee center to purchase necessities like gas cards to help refugees settle into a new life and find work.
If you’re a runner, consider lending your time and money to their race scheduled for Oct. 13. And all of us should consider the example the organizers provide — how much better we could be.