America should be clamoring to take in refugees, and not just for humanitarian reasons.

There are currently more refugees in the world than at any time in history—and half of them are children.

As of the end of 2017, there were a record 68.5 million displaced people in the world. Of those, 25.4 million are refugees—the highest number the world has ever seen according to the United Nations Refugee Agency.

Refugees are not merely migrants looking for a better life. The U.N. defines a refugee as “someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence” and “has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.”


Refugees are distinct from asylum seekers as well, in that in order to obtain official refugee status your fear of persecution has to be verified as credible.

These are people who have shown that if they stay in their home country, they will either be targets for suffering or they will die. They have nowhere to go if other countries don't offer them safe haven. And half of them—more than 12 million of these refugees—are children.

Here's a mind-blower: In the face of this crisis, the U.S. is admitting the fewest number of refugees ever.

There are two things you need to know about where the U.S. stands right now when it comes to refugees:

1) We admitted fewer refugees last year than we did following the worst terrorist attack in history. (You know, when drastic security precautions were legitimately warranted.)

2) We are currently resettling fewer refugees in the U.S. than we ever have, though the need has never been greater.

Since 1975, some 3 million refugees have found a home in the U.S. through government resettlement programs, with an annual average ceiling of 96,000 per year.

The lowest annual number settled until recently was 2002—the year after 9/11—when 27,131 refugees were admitted.

In 2018, the U.S. admitted 22,491—the lowest number ever.

Credit: Migration Policy Institute

And at our current pace, we will settle even fewer refugees than that in the 2019 fiscal year—far below the already historic low ceiling and below the historic low actually admitted last year.

It's unprecedented. And it's flat out wrong.

Suggesting we should resettle more refugees isn't just a humanitarian plea. It's economically and politically smart.

President Bush reduced the number of refugees in 2002 and 2003 following the 9/11 attack, but he didn't cut them off completely. He could easily have done so, saying, "It's too risky," or "Terrorists might sneak in," or "America is full." So why didn't he?

I can think of several good reasons, which are also reasons why we should be striving to increase—not decrease—the number of refugees we resettle:

1) Refugees have been shown to be good for the economy. Research shows that even when we account for the cost of getting them settled, refugees have a neutral-to-beneficial effect on the economy. In other words, they tend to create more revenue than it costs to bring them in. They are more likely to start businesses than the average American-born citizen, so they add jobs and boost the economy.

2) Helping refugees makes the country stronger. This just seems like common sense to me: If a family fleeing persecution is given a safe haven in a country that welcomes them with open arms and helps them get on their feet, that family will naturally feel a loyalty to and love for that country. They will convey that loyalty and love to their personal network, which increases that nation's sense of pride and lifts its status on the world stage.

3) Refugees pose practically no risk, as they are the most vetted people to enter our country. The refugee resettlement program is the longest, hardest, and least likely way to get into the United States, hands down. Most refugees don't get to choose their country of resettlement, and the ones who come to the U.S. are so thoroughly vetted that the chances of a bonafide terrorist slipping through the cracks is practically non-existent. With the 3 million refugees we've taken in in the past four decades, the chance of being killed in a terrorist attack by a refugee on U.S. soil is a whopping 1 in 3.64 billion. You're literally more likely to be killed by your own clothing than to be killed by a refugee terrorist.

4) Helping desperate people keeps them out of terrorists' hands. Terrorists and radicals love to play the "America hates us all" game, and can easily use our isolationist policies as fodder to recruit desperate people. If developed nations with the means to help say, "Nope, we won't help you" and a radical militant group sweeps in and says, "See? They don't care about you. Come, we will give you what you need," what will people struggling to survive do?

There are lots of myths about refugees out there, and the vast majority are perpetuated by fearmongers. The facts show that there is no reason other than prejudice and unfounded fear to severely limit the number of refugees we're taking in.

America also has a long, bi-partisan legacy of helping refugees that has served us well.

Refugees also bring culture and innovation with them that enrich our society. Without refugees, we wouldn't have nifty things like video games, Sriracha hot sauce, Madeleine Albright, or the theory of relativity. Just think of all the amazing food and arts and interesting friendships we're missing out on.

It is in our DNA as a nation to open our doors to those in need. The U.S. was founded as a safe haven for persecuted people. We have regularly resettled more refugees than any other country, which has solidified our identity as a diverse "melting pot" or "tossed salad" society. We have taken in refugees through every administration, Republican and Democrat.

Perhaps that's why it feels so unnatural to severely limit the number of refugees we're admitting, especially since our economy is booming and the need is so great.

Refugees should be vetted, and we've proven we can do that. We can't take everyone, and no one says we should. But we have plenty of open space, a resettlement system that works, an economy that can handle the initial investment, and people willing to help refugees successfully assimilate.

Slashing our numbers is simply foolish and shortsighted. Not only does doing so hurt refugees—again, half of which are innocent children—but it hurts our country in the long run as well.

Pexels
True
Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

Keep Reading Show less
True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.