129 State Legislators from 34 states pledge to welcome refugees

August 8, 2023
For Immediate Release
Contact: Mary Elizabeth Margolis, memargolis@voiceforrefuge.org

New York City— Today, Voice for Refuge Action Fund launched the ‘State Legislators for Welcome’ pledge with 129 state legislators representing 34 states and the District of Columbia joining for the initial launch; with more to follow in the coming months.

Legislators who signed the pledge committed to publicly call for an increase in refugee arrivals, to support State investments in refugee resettlement and key services, and to consult with refugee and immigrant leaders in their state. 

“States that welcome refugees and advance policies to support the success of new arrivals build stronger communities and economies for everyone. We’re glad to see so many state leaders, representing such a diverse group of states, choose to publicly voice their support,” said Voice for Refuge Managing Director Mary Elizabeth Margolis. 

Legislators who signed the pledge include refugees, immigrants, children of immigrants themselves, and allies at the state level. States represented among the signatories include Utah, Hawaii, Alaska, Vermont, South Dakota, Oregon, Michigan, North Carolina, and Arizona, among others.

State legislators shared many reasons they chose to join the pledge, but these five quotes stand out as examples of the hope of the initiative and the goal of the pledge:

Representative Naquetta Ricks, House District 40, Colorado “As a refugee and immigrant myself, I know what is possible when communities commit themselves to making opportunity, health, and safety available to all. When we care for our most vulnerable, we all become more secure.” 

Minority Whip Nancy Gutierrez, House District 18, Arizona “As a public school teacher, I am lucky to have refugees and immigrants in my classroom.  I have learned so much about resilience and determination from them. When we welcome them and learn from them, we are all better for it.”

Delegate Kathy Tran, House of Delegates, 42, Virginia “As a former child refugee, I know firsthand how important it is that we welcome refugees. I am proud of the strides Virginia has made to be more inclusive of refugees and I will always support opportunities for refugees and New Americans to thrive.”

Representative My-Linh Thai, House District 41, Washington “This nation is built on a promise of “opportunities”. People across the globe seek to better their lives through these promises. As a refugee from Vietnam, our family came here to escape political execution and to build a future. This is our story. We are the HOPE and DREAM builders. As we look forward into the prosperous future of the United States of America, we see clearly that refugees and immigrants are the best people who have a vision of not just building a better life for our family, but for all Americans.”

Representative Leonora Dodge House District Chittenden 23, Vermont “Not only am I a migrant, but my paternal and maternal families are themselves products of global migration. It is the most human and natural instinct to seek a better life, and our planet’s history is full of tragic moments when angry people separate “insider” from “outsider.” Our strongest moments, on the other hand, when we innovate, grow, and create partnerships, have been borne out of nurturing migrants and migrant cultures.” 

Voice for Refuge and partner organizations will evaluate this list regularly to ensure that legislators are keeping their promises and cooperating with community nonprofits and resettlement organizations. New legislative members are welcome to join anytime. The pledge form and application will remain open indefinitely, with updates made to the list every few months.

Voice for Refuge is the first 501(c)4 organization created to advance pro-refugee policies at the national, state, and local level and to hold elected leaders accountable to upholding America’s legacy of welcome. Voice for Refuge is educating the public about the benefits of refugee resettlement, advocating for pro-refugee policies in the U.S. Congress and state legislatures, and increasing civic engagement among refugees through non-partisan voter education. Voice for Refuge will also promote the representation of refugees in government by supporting former refugees and pro-refugee candidates running for office at 


Voice for Refuge Action Fund is a first-of-its-kind 501(c)(4) organization created to stand alongside and elevate refugee voices in the fight for justice and equality.