As the First Lady visited Arizona, refugee advovates had a message for the White House

ELOY, Ariz. - While First Lady Melania Trump toured a Customs and Border Patrol facility in Tucson and a center housing migrant children in Phoenix, representatives of refugee settlement agencies gathered in Eloy to discuss the current state of their programs.

Statistics compiled by the Arizona Department of Economic Security indicate Maricopa and Pima counties are on pace to accept 2,125 refugees in 2018. That projection is based on statistics from the first quarter of the year.

Those figures also show the United States is on pace to meet the current refugee cap of 45,000 people per year. Which some say is a problem.

Cherie Gray is the Founder and Director of the Tucson Refugee Ministry. She says the U.S. has the capacity to help more refugees and that the nation has a moral obligation to do so.

“If we have been welcomed then we need to welcome others. It does seem like a very fundamental aspect of what Americans do,” Gray said.

She and other advocates point out that refugees allowed into the country undergo strict screening and background checks.

“We are the most capable nation on the face of the earth right now,” said Derek DeVelder, who teaches adult refugees English in the Phoenix area. “We can have security and we can have compassion.”

“I think somewhere along the line we look at refugees not as the victims and that's who they are,” said Dawn Skinner, who teaches English to adult refugees in Tucson.

Skinner, DeVelder, and Gray want President Trump to increase the refugee cap.

“We need to help, we have the ability to help,” Skinner said.  

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