JCARR at a press conference: we need to address the Afghan refugee crisis

Remarks presented by Jean Silk, JCARR Coordinator at Press Conference of

Senator Blumenthal, October 12, 2012


Good afternoon.  It is an honor to join my colleagues Chris George, Susan Schnitzer, and Bob Fishman to  speak with you today.  I want to thank Senator Blumenthal for all that he has done and is doing to help Americans and Afghan allies leave Afghanistan. Yet, As Senator Blumenthal has said, there remain countless people in Afghanistan who are in severe danger, those who worked with U.S. troops, diplomats, and organizations, as well as teachers, human rights advocates and women.  Now it is time for us to help them.

My name is Jean Silk, and I am the Coordinator of the Jewish Community Alliance for Refugee Resettlement, JCARR. We are a partnership of six local synagogues and the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven who work together to resettle refugees in our community.

JCARR’s vision for refugee resettlement is closely connected to our historic Jewish traditions of welcoming the strangers among us. Refugee families come to this country after years of instability, living in challenging and sometimes unsafe environments. They have endured experiences that could be traumatic and can result in a sense of helplessness. Yet, they are resilient.

Organizations like JCARR have experienced the joy and gratification that come from developing close relationships with people from vastly different backgrounds and cultures. We can state from our direct experience that refugees are eager to become productive citizens in our communities. 

Over six years, as a co-sponsor for IRIS, JCARR has welcomed six families who fled their home countries to escape persecution and violence. They came to the United States, to the State of Connecticut, to find peace, safety and freedom.

Like Senator Blumenthal, we believe that now the United States has a moral and humanitarian obligation to protect and evacuate Afghans who are in danger.

JCARR stands ready to do for an Afghan family what we have done for one family of refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, three families from Syria, an elderly couple from Iraq,  and an asylum-seeking family from Angola.

We will obtain and apartment and subsidize rent; we will provide furniture and household necessities; we will enroll them in English classes and in school; we will assist them in getting the medical care and the social services they need and help the adults who can work to get jobs that will help them become self-sufficient.

JCARR welcomed our first family from Syria on November 8, 2016, the night of the Presidential Election. When I met with them the next morning, the father asked me, “Jean, is my family going to be safe here?”  I assured him that JCARR would do everything we could to keep his family safe.

Just this August, we were thrilled to welcome that man’s mother, brother and sister, who had waited in Jordan for five long years for their family to finally be  reunited in the United States.

Many of the Afghans who come to the United States will arrive without their families. I hope that most of them will not have to wait five years to be reunited. 

WE KNOW HOW TO RESETTLE REFUGEES.  We need the human and financial resources required to help Afghans get back on their  feet and on a path to a new life in America.

It is time to restore and rebuild the U.S. refugee resettlement system, to simplify and speed up the bureaucratic processes.

In Judaism, we often use the expression, “From strength to strength.”  May this be the time when the United States renews the strength of our refugee resettlement system. May this be the time when we assist Afghan people to regain their strength and rebuild their lives. And let us remember the millions of Syrian and Iraqi and Sudanese and others who remain refugees unable to return to their homes.

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