World Refugee Day recognizes accomplishment, hardship

June 16, 2017
Telegram and Gazette
"WORCESTER — Music, performances, a solid mix of potluck ethnic dishes and good old-fashioned pizza kept the mood joyous at the World Refugee Day celebration Friday afternoon, but there’s no doubt it has been a tough year.

Uncertainty and confusion over executive orders signed — and later challenged in court — limiting refugee intake have had an impact, said Lisa Brennan, director of the Services for New Americans program at Ascentria, a local human services organization.

'We’ve seen a significant decline in the number of people arriving since March, or really since January,' Ms. Brennan said near the stage of the meeting hall at Trinity Lutheran Church on Lancaster Street.

Ms. Brennan said Ascentria, one of three agencies in the area that help resettle refugees, typically deals with about 250 people annually. Those executive orders signed by President Donald Trump have not fared well in the courts, but Ms. Brennan said that the overseas processing that has to happen before refugees arrive has definitely slowed.

But Friday was a day to celebrate the work that continues to welcome refugees to the community, Ms. Brennan said. She said World Refugee Day is an chance to step back and remember that there are still people fleeing conflict all over the world, but it’s also an opportunity to celebrate the strength and resilience of people who do make it here."

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