World Refugee Day is an international day designated by the United Nations to honor refugees around the globe. It celebrates the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution. The harrowing journey to safety is often fraught with human trafficking, physical assault, and physical challenges. World Refugee Day focuses our attention on the rights, needs, and dreams of refugees and the mobilizing of resources so refugees not only survive but thrive.
Refugees in the United States have come here from countries outside the U.S. legally through a resettlement program created by the U.S. State Department. When they arrive, they are already on the path to citizenship and can work legally. Permanent residency may be granted after one year, and citizenship may be granted after five years.
Asylum seekers are people who are at a U.S. port of entry or have already entered the U.S. and are requesting asylum from persecution in their home country and may apply for permanent residency after one year, which may eventually lead to becoming a citizen.
There are an estimated 57,000 refugees from all parts of the world living in Texas. The majority are from Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Burma, Eritrea, Nepal, and Cuba. In recent years many refugees have come from the Ukraine and Venezuela.
On June 24, 2023, the Bullock State History Museum and the Austin Refugee Roundtable will host World Refugee Day. It is free and open to the public. In addition to an educational portion illustrating the difficult journey of the refugee, the highlight of the event will be a naturalization ceremony in which a number of people who came to the U.S. as refugees will be sworn in as new citizens. The event will also include kid’s activities, a portrait photographer, food and music.
For more information about the event, go to www.thestoryoftexas.com