Refugee Congress is an advocacy and advisory organization comprised of refugees from across the United States who seek to champion domestic and international refugee issues.
The Refugee Congress is an advocacy and advisory organization comprised of refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless persons from each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Our mission is to promote the well-being, integration, and dignity of all refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless persons in the U.S. and beyond by bringing our voices and experiences to inform decision makers on domestic and international issues and policies affecting our lives.
We do this by:
- Reaching out to refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless persons communities in each state to gather information about their concerns, needs, barriers, and successes, as well as gaining their opinions and feedback on national issues and bringing their perspectives to our national partners.
- Working in partnership with others who advocate for and serve refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless persons– including UNHCR, resettlement agencies, government, and other organizations – to share information about issues and trends and identify solutions.
- Advocating with government agencies, elected officials, and service providers at the local, state, national, and international levels for policies, and programs that promote the well-being, integration, and dignity of refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless persons.
- Educating government agencies, elected officials, service providers, and others about refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless persons to build greater awareness about who we are, why we are here, and what we contribute to our local communities and the larger society.
- Inclusion – We are committed to the full inclusion of all refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless persons within the Refugee Congress and to advocating for their full inclusion in civic institutions and activities. We include and represent all refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless persons equally, without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, immigration status or citizenship, familial status, pregnancy, disability status, veteran status, and/or genetic information.
- Empowerment – We are committed to the economic, political, social and educational empowerment of all refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless persons. Refugee Congress works to ensure that all refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless persons have access to the tools and opportunities to decide and purse their own futures.
- Independence – We are committed to serving as an independent voice for refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless persons. While we value the views and opinions of our partners, we take positions based on and act in accordance with the best interests of refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless persons.
- Collaboration – We believe we can only accomplish our vision and goals by working in collaboration with other individuals and institutions who share our values and vision. While Refugee Congress is committed to being an independent voice, we are determined to form partnerships and participate in networks and coalitions to advance our mission.
- Integration – We are committed to building welcoming communities that embrace the dynamic two-way process of integration of newcomers. We advocate for the civic, economic, social and linguistic acquisition so that refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless persons are fully integrated and living in harmony with the host community.
Refugee Congress will be recognized and respected by governmental and non-governmental organizations that advocate for and serve refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless persons as a critical and credible partner in advancing their well-being, dignity, and integration. We will also be known and respected by diverse refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless persons communities across the U.S. for being a voice for their experiences and perspectives.
At the national level, The Refugee Congress will have identified clear advocacy priorities and positions that we promote in collaboration with our partners. At the state and local levels, Delegates will be engaged in efforts to improve services and address gaps. Delegates will have regular communication with each other to share strategies and best practices, as well as to provide support.
Refugee Congress will be an independent nonprofit with a proven democratic structure that allows us to make decisions and advance out mission and goals efficiently and effectively. The Refugee Congress membership will continuously evolve – and grow to more than 1 Delegate per state in the future when resources allow – to reflect the changing refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless persons communities in the U.S. and our priorities will evolve to reflect changing needs and concerns. Our work will be guided by a strategic plan with clear goals and benchmarks for progress that we hold ourselves accountable to.
We will have established a fundraising plan and program that allows us to begin raising the resources needed to advance our work – including funding support for an annual in-person Congress, office/staff support, training for Delegates, and allowances for Delegate and Committee activities.
First Meeting. The UNHCR hosted the first “Refugee Congress” on 3 August, 2011 steps away from Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. The historic event brought together 60 refugees and asylees from across the United States to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 50th anniversary of the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.