New Jersey Honors Refugees to Mark the State’s First World Refugee Day

(ELIZABETH) - The New Jersey Office for Refugees and the New Jersey Department of Human Services on Thursday commemorated World Refugee Day by highlighting the strengths and contributions refugees bring to New Jersey.

Representatives from refugee serving agencies and refugee communities throughout New Jersey attended the event, and three refugees who are leaders in their community gave speeches about starting new lives in New Jersey and their contributions to their new communities.

The International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) New Jersey Office for Refugees (NJOR), which hosted the event at the Union County Community College, works with local non-governmental agencies to support new Americans in New Jersey and has served 3,000 clients over the past three years, including refugees, asylees, Cuban and Haitian entrants, and victims of human trafficking from more than 45 nationalities. The NJOR works with the New Jersey Department of Human Services in partnership to ensure that refugees receive services to assist them in New Jersey communities.

“The IRC is committed to working in partnership with Human Services to strengthen programs and services to ensure that refugees are welcomed, are achieving their full potential, and contributing back to their respective communities,” New Jersey State Refugee Coordinator James Lenton said. “Our communities and the world at large would be different if refugees were turned away as they once were. When refugees are welcomed, they work to contribute to improving our world,”

“In New Jersey, we offer a welcoming message to refugees who have been forced to flee their homes in the name of safety for themselves and their families,” Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson said. “Welcoming and integrating refugees in our state makes New Jersey a more vibrant and prosperous place where communities can thrive together. Refugees are new New Jerseyans - they are our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends – and the Murphy Administration will continue to stand with our new friends despite the damaging rhetoric and action coming from Washington.” 

New Jersey has a long history of welcoming refugees and others fleeing persecution, resettling roughly 8,000 refugees through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program since 2002.

Governor Phil Murphy last year signed a law designating June 20th as World Refugee Day in New Jersey.

“We thank the representatives from the state of New Jersey for joining us on this event on World Refugee Day, and call upon all to join us in thanking refugees for their contributions,” Lenton said. “Let’s ensure that they are welcomed, learn from them when we can, and do our utmost to help them reclaim their future. Let’s support a world that welcomes and realizes the full potential of each individual by standing with refugees.”

The IRC in New Jersey has served the refugee, asylee and immigrant populations in New Jersey since 1980, offering programming in resettlement, economic empowerment, and education to support their integration into their adopted home.