How to welcome newcomers to the USA

How can I welcome refugees, immigrants, and other newcomers to the USA? Here are 8 ways to welcome newcomers into your community.

1) Learn how to pronounce newcomers’ names

One important thing you can to do help newcomers feel welcome is to learn how to pronounce their names. Learn tips on how to pronounce names that sound foreign to you.

2) Learn skills to connect with newcomers in your own community

Complete our online welcoming course to learn how to effectively welcome, support, volunteer with, or simply connect to newcomers. When you are done, search our “FindHello” database for a local organization to support.

3) Be prepared to listen to the concerns of established residents in your communities

Your most challenging role as an advocate for newcomers will be among less welcoming members of your own community. Being a good advocate means listening with respect to the fears and worries of non-welcoming community members. If you dismiss their concerns as prejudice or selfishness, you will not win hearts and minds.

Instead, acknowledge that things are changing, and find out what their wishes are. Remind them that refugees, and many other immigrants too, come because they are trying to get away from terror and conflict, not bring it with them, and that engaging people and making them feel welcome is the best prevention. Reminders of immigrant ancestors are also helpful with some groups.

You can also highlight the positives that immigrants bring with them. Find common ground by identifying similar values that newcomers have with non-welcoming community members – work ethic and resilience, religious and traditional societies, family values – and build your advocacy around that. You will find there are plenty of things that some refugee groups have in common with the more conservative Americans, who may resent newcomers simply because they don’t understand them.

4) Buy a shirt and wear a message of welcome to newcomers

You can wear a message of welcome when you are out and about in your city. USAHello sells shirts with the message “Welcome. This is your home, too” in eight different languages. Proceeds support our work. Buy a shirt now.

5) Work with your city and county officials to declare your community a welcoming city

Welcoming America is a national movement that encourages cities and towns to become more inclusive places.

6) Teach children about refugees and other newcomers both at school and at home

Teaching children about refugees can be a challenge but is also an important thing to do. Here are some ideas to help you talk to your children about refugees.

7) Hire newcomers and learn inclusive employment practices

Research shows refugees and other newcomers are very valuable parts of the workforce. Hire them! Then, consider ways to promote English language learning on the job. Your company can give employees time during their workweek to earn their GED® diplomas using our free GED®  preparation course.

If you are looking for additional support on how to hire and work with employees who are refugees or immigrants, you can find more resources and technical support from our friends at Higher Advantage.

If you own a business, please sign the We Hire Refugees declaration today! Even if you aren’t in a position to hire refugees, you can still sign the declaration to support and welcome refugees. Let’s speak with a louder voice about how refugees make our companies, economy and communities stronger and advance initiatives that support refugee resettlement.

8) Plan or attend an event for World Refugee Day or Welcoming Week

World Refugee Day (June 20th) is a day to celebrate the strength and resilience of refugees around the globe. Many communities across the United States host events during the month of  June. Welcoming Week is celebrated each September. Visit our friends at WeAreAllAmerica.org to find an event in your community.

Learn more

Refugees shaking hands

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