Milwaukee has a history of over 160 years of immigration, which has given it a distinctive heritage.

During the late 19th century, the Milwaukee area became a destination for many German immigrants fleeing the Revolution of 1848. In Wisconsin they found the inexpensive land and the freedoms they sought. Other ethnic groups, such as Irish, Yankees, Poles, Blacks, and Hispanics followed. An immigrant is a person who chooses to settle permanently in another country. Refugees are forced to to relocate for reasons such as fear of persecution due to war, religion, or political opinion. Milwaukee has a long history as a hub for both.

Refugees are often the first victims of tеrrоr.

On January 27, President Trump signed an executive order, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.” It halts the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days and resets refugee priorities, including an indefinite hold on the acceptance of Syrian refugees.

Over the following weekend, a federal judge issued a stay on the executive order, leading to even more chaos and anxiety for vulnerable refugees.

For many organizations, the executive order means that the flow of new refugees and government funding for their Refugee Resettlement Program have both been cut off for at least 120 days.

However, these groups need to continue to provide intensive resettlement services to the more than 140 refugees who arrived here within the past three months. They also have a continuing obligation to provide information, referrals to other services and emergency assistance to the thousands refugees in the Milwaukee area that have resettled in the past five years.

Funding is needed to keep these programs staffed and able to serve refugees, and to be ready to welcome new refugees when the ban is lifted. Here is a list of organizations that citizens of Milwaukee can support either financially or with volunteer efforts.

International Learning Center (ILC) of Milwaukee

ILC provides ESL, literacy, adult basic education and citizenship classes tailored to the needs of refugees with little or no prior education. Wraparound services include in-house preschool, language support, family literacy support, and on-site benefits assistance through a partnership with Hunger Task Force. For refugees, self sufficiency means gaining the language, life and social skills needed to attain citizenship, participate in the Milwaukee community, access community resources, and support the healthy social and academic development of their children.

Lutheran Social Services (LSS)

LSS needs donations to help fund its Refugee Resettlement Program, and provide for more than 2,200 refugees it has worked with during the past five years. The organization also seeks funding to purchase a new van for transporting goods and refugees.

The International Institute of Wisconsin (IIW)

The organization works to help refugees successfully immigrate and become self-sufficient. IIW accepts cash and material donations, specifically household items, and it also needs volunteers.

Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement (CCRR)

The CCRR program offers help to refugees at no cost to them. Catholic Charities is accepting donations and offering opportunities for community members to volunteer. Its Migrant and Refugee Services Program is in need of a volunteer to oversee a computer classroom and help with basic computer functions such as job searching.