DAY 16: Immigrants & Refugees

Imagine: What would it take for you to grab your family and run from your home? Imagine leaving behind everything for which you have worked so hard, fleeing to a place you have never been, where you do not know a soul. Can you imagine having one hour to pack, choosing items from your home to embark on what may become a long, arduous journey? What would you leave behind? Envision how terrible a situation would be for you to leave everything behind, putting yourself and your family at the mercy of strangers. Before they reached New York, many of our refugee and immigrant neighbors have overcome these formidable challenges and other trauma.


People migrate to a new country as a refugee, asylee, or immigrant. Refugees and asylees are typically people who are forced to flee their homes, whereas immigrants mostly move by choice. There are 4.2 million immigrants living in New York State and approximately 25% of Westchester’s population is foreign born. This includes people born in countries around the world, but the largest portion (56%) come from Latin America.


The contributions of refugees and immigrants have made to our community have been extensive, although often overlooked.


New York households led by immigrants earned $12.6 billion in 2019, paying $949 million in local and state taxes. They often have jobs in hospitality, agriculture, manufacturing, healthcare, and many more business sectors that need workers. Accepting refugees in counties such as Onondaga, Erie, Oneida, Monroe, and Albany, have helped to save rural communities by bringing employees, small businesses, students, places of worship, and much more to small towns

“Population Data for Refugee and Special Immigrant Visa Holders Resettled in New York State FFY 2020

“How does it feel to be a refugee? Hear their words”
Oxfam International

These articles were curated by a local committee to be used as a list of resources pertinent to DEI topics. The 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge Committee would like to thank and give attribution to those who created the content above, which reflects their individual perspectives. We do not support nor endorse any advertisements associated with the above content.


Use these following prompts to reflect on the information you consumed today:


When you hear the terms “refugee” or “immigrant” what are your initial reactions? 


List out the adjective you’d use to describe an immigrant or refugee. Is your list of adjectives full of words with more negative or positive connotations? Are your adjectives for immigrants and refugees the same?


Your action item of the day is to…

Learn about the Westchester Refugee Initiative launched by Hearts and Homes for Refugees



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