Here are five things you can do for refugees today

Trump’s ban and how we can take a stand against hate here in Aotearoa.

New Zealanders hold a banner welcoming refugees at a vigil at Parliament in September 2015

We know that, like us, you wish we lived in a world that is better than the one we have today. One that’s fair, flourishing, peaceful and just.

But we are entering dark times. There is a tonne of research that shows when ‘leaders’ normalise (e.g. talk about in mainstream media) or worse legalise racist, Islamophobic or xenophobic policies, the number of hate crimes by emboldened angry citizens go up. Not just in the country in which that law change or media story happened, but in countries influenced by the media and politics of that place. This happened after 9/11, the Paris bombings, the Sydney siege and Brexit. It’s happening now with Trump. Read more here, here, and here.

If we do not individually and collectively rise up and be braver, more compassionate and more politically active, the hate will win. This is not the time for sitting on the sidelines.

We have an election this year, which means we have an opportunity to have a national conversation about the kind of country we want to be. What kind of example do we want to send to the world? Will we choose multiracial and multicultural solidarity and coexistence, or will we choose fear, hatred and anger?

Trump’s executive order to ban people from certain Muslim-majority countries entering the U.S (except of course the ones America have big oil business with) is not only despicable, it’s not backed by any evidence that it will improve national security. Americans are more likely to be killed by their own clothes, or another American, than they are someone from one of the banned countries.

Here in New Zealand, Trump’s actions have revived the national debate around whether or not we as a nation are doing enough for families seeking refuge in countries free from war. The short answer is: we are not. When adjusted for wealth and population, we currently rank 116th in the world for hosting refugees, and for those that do make it here don’t always get the Government support they need to build a life of opportunity, freedom and choice.

Here are five things you can for refugees today. You can choose one, or you can choose a couple. Whichever you choose, our actions together will make a difference:

  1. Send an email to Prime Minister Bill English calling for him to double the refugee quota. This should take no more than five minutes.
  2. Sign up to receive a pack of 10, 20 or 30 postcards that you and your friends and/or whānau can fill in and send to Parliament for free in support of people granted refuge rebuild their lives in Aotearoa New Zealand. Click here to find out more. [UPDATE: All postcards have now been sent!]
  3. Pledge a bed to house a refugee in your home! Our sister organisation in Ireland ran a similar campaign to this last year where more than 6000 people “pledged a bed” to house a refugee in their home. They used the momentum of this generous community outpouring, and same rapid-response community organising to help force the Irish government to increase the refugee quota from 600 to 4,000 in 2016. This pledge is a way for us to collectively express generosity and welcome, not a formal commitment, nor is it a proposal to replace expert resettlement services with private homes.
  4. Sign up to become a member of the Vibe Patrol! We have a theory that most people don’t feel the same way as trolls on the internet do, but it’s hard to jump in and defend issues we care about for fear of being trolled with toxicity ourselves. The Vibe Patrol (aka Troll Slayers or Dumblebore’s Army) are people whose job it is to fight casual and outright racism, xenophobia, sexism, ableism etc online. You will need to be relatively thick-skinned, deeply compassionate, online often, patient and kind. This it not for people who want use too much academic language and jargon, it’s probably not for people who like to win every argument and ideally you wouldn’t be too closely linked with the cause for risk of being personally impacted. We will provide the training, you will provide the energy and enthusiasm to fight the trolls, together we’ll have the community to keep going. Sign up now.
  5. And finally, ActionStation community member Kate has launched a petition calling for Bill Bill English to immediately offer places under the New Zealand refugee resettlement programme to people who were bound for US resettlement this month. As of 27 January, these people have, without any warning, been refused entry to the U.S under the Trump Administration. Click here to sign and share Kate’s petition.

It takes a mass movement to solve our massive, global problems. Because the stakes are so high. Because our response to the urgency and bigness of the problems we face must be equally urgent and big. Because you have power waiting to be unleashed. Because this matters.

Thank you for being ready and willing to be part of it,

Laura, Marianne, and the rest of the ActionStation team.

PS. The other great way you can support people seeking and granted refuge in Aotearoa is to share this post with your friends.