On Oct. 4, President Donald Trump announced the new limit to the number refugees admitted into the United States, and it is now lower than it has been in 40 years.
Business Insider reported at 30,000 total refugees, the limit authorizes 11,000 refugees from Africa, 4,000 refugees from East Asia, 3,000 refugees from Europe and Central Asia, 3,000 from Latin America/Caribbean, and 9,000 from Near East/South Asia.
The 2018 fiscal year’s cap was 45,000 according to NPR, but the number of refugees actually admitted into the United States for 2018 is currently 22,491, according to Business Insider’s website.
Neh Meh, a junior majoring in international studies, knows what refugee life is like. She was born in a Karenni refugee camp in Thailand, and said, “My perception was very dangerous, and it is scary out there. In camp, it wasn’t safe for us to be there, and I knew that, but once you go out it’s more dangerous.”
She believes that refugees have a positive impact on society, improving the economy by taking jobs that Americans don’t usually take. They might need a little help to get settled in the beginning, but once assimilated they improve their environment.
David Rock, a professor in the international studies department, said that refugees have a positive impact on the United States.
“It depends on economic circumstances,” Rock said. “Where they’re from, where they go, and how long they stay… People who come to this country, go to a lot of trouble to get here, and that usually means that they are energetic, able-bodied, somewhat courageous I guess, and they’re entrepreneurial. Just the fact that they have to cross borders and encounter a foreign culture means that they are the kind of people that take risks, and they are the kind of people that start businesses… They add more than they take away.”
Rock said that a lot of the impact that refugees have depends largely on the economic standing of their new home. It would be much harder to assimilate and improve the economy of a place that already has a high unemployment rate and a struggling economy, but in places that can support refugees, they have a positive impact.
Now that Meh has been in the United States for 8 years, she looks for ways to help other refugees in the area.
Meh does her best to improve refugee lives locally through an on-campus service group called Project R. Project R is student-run and focuses on giving hope and friendship to refugees, mostly in the Twin Falls area.
Project R has previously reached out to high school refugees and helped them with the college application process. They provided encouragement, application advice, and more specific help depending on what the refugee needed. They also gathered to introduce the refugees to unfamiliar United States customs.
One specific custom that Project R focused on was Thanksgiving. Many refugees are unfamiliar with the process of Thanksgiving, so Project R reached out and gathered together to have Thanksgiving dinner with refugees. Meh expects that these projects will continue as long as the group continues to develop.
Project R is currently working on helping refugees learn better oral communication skills, so they will pick a conversation topic in English, and let that topic guide the conversation just so the refugees can practice communication in any topic. They recently finished helping with a Run For a Refugee event, and are planning even bigger projects in the future.
Project R is on Facebook at We Are Project R, and they meet on Thursdays at 6 p.m.