By BRITTANY WALLACE/Montana State News
Soft Landing Missoula, a volunteer-run organization formed by moms inspired to help by media coverage of the Syrian refugee crises, is trying to bring a refugee resettlement field office to Missoula.
According to the organization’s Facebook page, “Soft Landing Missoula’s mission is to open our city, arms, and hearts in a sustainable way to refugees from around the world, as catalyzed by a desire to help those affected by the Syrian refugee crisis. Currently, we are working toward opening a refugee resettlement field office in Missoula, in order to aid refugees in the long term.”
In spite of the increase in refugees attempting to enter the U.S., according to the American Immigration Council, the U.S.’s refugee ceiling has actually gone down from 80,000 in 2009-2011 to only 70,000 each year since 2013, and none of those refugees have settled in Montana to this point. Soft Landing Missoula is hoping to change that; a refugee resettlement field office would open Montana up to receiving refugees from all over the world.
“Unfortunately, misinformation on how refugees are funded and the fact that in many cases, a well-supported refugee program can bring additional resources and therefore increase resources for all in the community, is often overlooked,” says Mary O. Poole in response to national concerns, with people objecting due to fears of cost, job availability, and potential terrorist threats.
Montana Governor Steve Bullock, in response to a letter from a concerned citizen, emphasized that safety is his top priority, but “we will not allow any terrorist organization to intimidate us into abandoning our values or humanity.” Along these lines, Soft Landing Missoula is working to bring Montana into the effort to aid in the refugee crisis.
– Edited by Anson Nygaard