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World Refugee Day: #RefugeesWelcome

Release Date: June 20, 2016

Today is World Refugee Day.

Several months ago while I was in Turkey I met a 9-year-old refugee named Jaafar.  I was immediately impressed with this extraordinary little boy who spoke almost perfect English. 

Secretary Johnson sits with Jaafar, an 11 year old turkish refugee
Photo Credit Barry Bahler, DHS (DHS Photo by /Released)

Jaafar told me how much he and his family wanted to come to the United States for a better life.  I told Jaafar “I hope you make it to the United States.”

Ten days ago I was pleased to welcome Jaafar, his mother and two sisters to our great country. 

Secretary Johnson, Jaafar and his family in front of the World Trade Center
Photo Credit Barry Bahler, DHS (DHS Photo by /Released)

Throughout our history, refugees have added to the fabric and strength of our Nation -- people like our former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, or Albert Einstein and Eli Weisel, two Jews displaced by Nazi Germany, or athletes like Nadia Comăneci and Luol Deng, who fled Communism and the Sudanese Civil War. 

Perhaps Jaafar will grow up to be a brilliant scientist or public servant.  What we do know is that, for Jafaar and his family, the future is brighter now that they live in our great country of freedom and opportunity. 

Taking in refugees at times of crisis is the right thing to do. We can and we will continue to ensure our own safety, while doing our share to welcome men, women and children who are fleeing terrorism and violence.

This is the United States of America. We can, we must, and we will do both.

Today, on World Refugee Day, let’s rededicate ourselves to this mission. 

Learn more about World Refugee Day, and see Secretary Johnson’s reunion with Jaafar by visiting DHS.gov/refugeeswelcome.


Last Updated: 09/20/2021
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