The leaders who took part in our World Refugee Day delegations to Capitol Hill are still making headlines. This time there’s a nice twist; one of them, Wilmot Collins, got to be a “stand-in for Academy Award-winning actress Angelina Jolie and speak at the State Department.”
In her July 9 article for the Billings Gazette, “Helena Man Called to Fill in for Angelina Jolie at State Department Talk,” Marga Lincoln writes that Collins “almost didn’t go because he thought his State Department invitation was spam. But much to his surprise, he found himself not only attending a June 20 celebration at the State Department to commemorate World Refugee Day, but also giving a speech at it.”
Collins was in Washington, D.C. for the LIRS activities around World Refugee Day (June 20) including the Walk of Courage Award Dinner, and previously had represented Montana refugees at the U.N.’s High Commission for Refugees Refugee Congress. That’s how he got the call to take part in the State Department event.
Lincoln writes that Collins had this to say in his speech:
Refugees ‘flee from various countries because of famine, civil wars and natural disasters. They flee their countries searching for survival,’ he said. ‘The U.S. accepts more refugees than any other country, and the U.S. supports the U.N. more than any other country.
‘I went on to talk about how refugees are grateful to be given a second chance. I got a second chance at life, and I’m very grateful. I want to give back.’
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In what has become an annual pilgrimage, LIRS delegates met with over 30 congressional offices on World Refugee Day. They asked lawmakers to move forward on comprehensive immigration reform, and to keep the plight of the world’s 15 million refugees in mind as they undertake that important work.
Many thanks to Wilmot Collins for his advocacy on Capitol Hill and at the State Department! We’re also very grateful to the Billings Gazette for covering refugee issues.
Now that World Refugee Day is past, the work of passing immigration reform that strengthens protections for refugees is only beginning. Please add your voice to that of Wilmot Collins by visiting the LIRS Action Center now and urging the House of Representatives to pass legislation with positive provisions for vulnerable migrants!