Reframing Refugees

Many Americans recognize that refugees are able to come to this country legally to escape persecution in their home countries, which generates a level of sympathy that is not always extended to other immigrants. Yet, this very sympathy based on the challenges refugees face can also form a barrier to a better understanding of the strengths refugees bring and the positive economic and cultural contributions refugees make to our nation and its communities.

Recognizing this challenge, Welcoming America, with the support of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, is working with organizations and communities across the nation to help Americans deepen their understanding of refugees. Through this effort, we seek to shift people’s perception of refugees by defining them less by their struggles and more by their triumphs.

These kinds of shifts are best accomplished through what communicators call “reframing.” In this toolkit, we explain this concept generally and specifically as it applies to the work at hand. By changing the frame, you can change the conversation, and by changing the conversation you get to tell new stories that enable people to understand things in new ways.
This toolkit is intended as a communications resource for individuals working in organizations that serve refugees and the broader community. Such organizations have ample opportunity to do this work well, because they have true and powerful stories to tell. With this toolkit, we aim to give you the tools, tips and resources you need to tell these stories to “Reframe Refugees.”