This guide was created for advocates, service providers, and supporters like yourself as a tool to address the backlash toward refugees and Muslim Americans, and to help you proactively engage with community leaders and neighbors. Through the messages, sample conversations, story ideas, and worksheets in this toolkit, we will help you develop straightforward yet persuasive language to use in the spoken or written communications you use in your work to support the needs of your whole community, including immigrants, refugees, and Muslim Americans. In places where leaders are actively trying to limit the movement, freedom, and faith practices of your neighbors, these messages can be helpful in pushing back on negative stereotypes and reaffirming your shared values as a community.
In your day-to-day work, you help people see that welcoming our neighbors—including immigrants, refugees, and other new Americans—represents America at our best. You do this work on behalf of and with people from every corner of the planet, of every faith and spiritual tradition. We know this is a fundamental part of who you are, and we are so proud to be working side by side with you. Working to create welcoming communities for immigrants and refugees is always challenging, but the past year has been challenging on so many fronts for families seeking better lives in the United States. From divisive political rhetoric to a growing wave of hate crimes, the climate has in many ways grown more hostile for new Americans and Muslims—even people of faith who have been here for generations—in particular.
There is no sugarcoating the fact that these are tough times, and that it is easy to feel defeated by the pushback that seems to sneak in just as you think you are making progress. In fact, our work must start at the root of the pushback and challenge the various assumptions people make. With so many of our most cherished efforts being called into question and so much hateful speech and action being aimed at immigrants, refugees, and people of faith, it can be easy for many of us to feel discouraged.