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Opinion: Commentary: America Voted in Favor of Refugees and Immigrants
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Opinion: Commentary: America Voted in Favor of Refugees and Immigrants

America has decidedly voted in favor of refugees and immigrants in this 2020 election, showing their support with the victory of President-Elect Joe Biden, and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, who ran on campaign promises to restore the asylum system, increase the annual cap of refugee arrivals to 125,000, and end the discriminatory travel bans.

Ethiopian Community Development Council applauds American voters for their nominations of refugees, immigrants and second-generation Americans throughout the country. This demonstrates the unwavering belief and confidence U.S. citizens have in welcoming refugees and providing extraordinary opportunities for them to start their lives anew, and to lead. ECDC has been empowering refugees and immigrants to start new lives in the United States because we believe in the promise of the American dream for all its people, no matter where they come from.

ECDC congratulates and recognizes just a few of the Ethiopians who have been appointed to positions as judges, city council members, assembly members, and senators.

Samra Brouk was recently elected to the New York State Senate, winning a seat in the 55th district. She will be the first black woman to represent the Rochester area in the State Senate. Samra worked her way through Williams College before joining the Peace Corps. As the daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, Samra credits her parents’ example of hard work, education, and resourcefulness, having witnessed her father overcome major cultural and financial barriers to earn degrees in math and engineering in Western New York.

Assemblyman Alexandre Assefa is the first Ethiopian-American elected to a statewide office in the United States and the first African immigrant to serve in the State of Nevada. Alex was born in Ethiopia and spent time as a refugee in Nairobi, Kenya, where he faced persecution and intolerance. In 2000, Alex immigrated to the United States where he was able to complete high school and earn a degree in political science.

In 2019, Girmay Zahilay was elected Councilman in District 2 of King County in Seattle, Washington. He was born in the Sudan to Ethiopian refugees, before moving to Seattle at a young age with his family, where they spent some time in a homeless shelter and a public housing project. Girmay, a graduate of Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, worked for several anti-hunger organizations and big law firms before founding his own non-profit, Rising Leaders.

The first Black Council member elected in Austin, Minnesota, Oballa Oballa, fled Gambella, Ethiopia with his family in 2003 after a genocidal attack on his community. They arrived in the United States in 2013 after spending 10 years in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp. In 2015 he settled in Austin. becoming a naturalized citizen less than a year ago.

ECDC, a national organization headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, works locally through its branch offices and nationally through a network of 10 agencies to resettle refugees in communities across the country. ECDC has resettled over 58,000 refugees since 1991. Through local and national programs, ECDC helps refugees and immigrants lead lives of dignity, attain self-sufficiency, and integrate successfully into their new communities.

ECDC’s mission is to resettle refugees, promote cultural, educational, and socio-economic development in the refugee and immigrant community in the United States, and to conduct humanitarian and development programs in the Horn of Africa. For more information about ECDC, please visit us at https://www.ecdcus.org/.