Newsletter 2/14/19

All you need is LOVE!

As evidenced by my Beatles-themed wedding, I have always loved this line and although I still believe in this basic principle, I also now realize that a roof, food, a couple of decent pieces of clothing-and even toilet paper-sure are nice, too! I always feel lucky to have you guys, but on days like this, I especially want you to know how loved you are and how much love- and yes, all those other things including toilet paper- you have given to refugees in Missoula. Once refugees are in the US, they have freedom of movement to be anywhere they need to be.  Sometimes that means a long-awaited reconnection with relatives somewhere other than Missoula or leaving due to a specific job opportunity that comes along in another state. One thing we know though, "SPOILER ALERT", families don't stay because they love this bone-chilling winter weather we have been having, they stay because of LOVE. This is where you come in. This is the love you have shown by helping to drive folks to Helena to process their Green Card applications (thanks Heather and Chase!), by working on homework with kiddos (thanks Shyla and your dedicated after-school crew!), by sitting down one-on-one and painstakingly practicing vocab and grammar (thanks Clem, Jane, Susan, Kristin, Aleta, Marcia, Jennifer, and our many other English tutors), by helping us keep our office running and daily visitors assisted (thanks Andi, Bonnie, Lee, Julie, Cathryn, and Nancy), by checking out and delivering on "wishes" and "opportunities" from our resource board, by providing technical/computer support to SLM and refugees (thanks Darrin, Rhett, and Zak!), by checking out and providing minor repairs on donated cars (thanks Bryan and Dan!), by attending our Supper Clubs and providing economic opportunity to refugees, by helping get kiddos to their school activities, by buying out 1,000 pieces of baklava in 3 days (AHHHHH! See photos below!), and yes, even by regular Costco runs to get TP and other essentials (you rock Julie!). This, and so much more, is the love you have given. I could really go on and on.  All this to say, on Valentine's Day and every day, we love you and want to thank you for loving our new neighbors.

In love and gratitude, 

Mary Poole
ED Soft Landing Missoula

P.S.- Hey!  This is super cool, and extremely humbling- we made it into an incredible list of refugee advocates from all over. This list was put together by Sloane Davidson of Hello Neighbor- just a phenomenal woman who also founded a refugee support agency, in Pittsburgh, about the same time SLM took shape.  I get that it is my face that makes it into these things, but we all know who does the heavy lifting.  Any doubts, read the above again and/or come to the office and see our hardworking staff!  ;)

United We Eat

SUPPER CLUB:  Join us again at Masala for our February 24th supper club! We're thrilled to showcase the talents of guest chef Dr. Shabnam Qureshi, a Pakistani immigrant and professor at UM, as she prepares a delicious meal to share the culture and generosity of Pakistan. Click below to view more details and reserve your spot. Act fast—they go QUICKLY!


People, Partners, Programs

Yesterday was "Galentine's Day"- the day about ladies celebrating ladies!  On this day, we highlighted one of our "sisters" by recognizing Miry Whitehill of Miry's List. Miry has been a generous friend, a strong guide, and a supportive confidant for us at Soft Landing. You should check out the incredible and inspiring work they do with refugee families in LA!


Events and Opportunities

>>Join us for the Big Sky Documentary Film Fest!  We are so excited about the incredible films we will be sponsoring and hope to see you there. LEARN MORE>>

>>The Lifelong Learning Center has an opening for a Tuesday evening ESL teacher. This is an incredible organization and a possible opportunity for even more days of teaching English. LEARN MORE>>

>> World View Film Series. The second installment of this popular FREE series of 5 films in partnership with The Roxy Theater, Arts Missoula, and others, kicks off Feb 25th and goes through June. This season's theme is MUSIC. LEARN MORE>>

Call to Action- Advocacy

If you weren’t already aware, we are well into Montana’s 2019 Legislative Session. While we have not yet seen any refugee specific bills pop up, there is a bill, HB146, and companion state referendum, HB147, that we are worried about. This bill regards Sanctuary Cities, and places HUGE fines on municipal governments for not deferring to federal agencies in regard to immigration. READ MORE about why we oppose this bill and how you can help ASAP!

A couple more pics of our awesome Valentine's Day Baklava Sale!  Thanks so much Waleed for making over 1000 pieces of baklava and thank you guys for the incredible response that sold all of this in less than 3 days!  This makes us think that maybe we should have another something up our sleeve for Mother's Day!!!
PS- We also had a fun impromptu Eritrean Coffee Ceremony in our office for pick-up day.  We love this tradition so much that we will soon be hosting a monthly coffee ceremony in our office- open to all.  Stay tuned!

Sanctuary Bill is on it's way to the Senate- Call to Action

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So, if you weren’t already aware, we are well into Montana’s 2019 Legislative Session. While we have not yet seen any refugee specific bills pop up, there is a bill, HB146, and companion state referendum, HB147, that we are worried about. This bill regards Sanctuary Cities, and places HUGE fines on municipal governments for not deferring to federal agencies in regard to immigration. Please read our statement below that we submitted before the bill recently passed committee and quickly got sent through the House- passing all 3 readings. We still have time to stop this by contacting our Senators before it reaches the senate floor. It is first headed to the Senate Judiciary Committee- so especially contact these folks using the easy link above!

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Here are some main points you may mention when calling:

-Solution in search of a problem. No city or town has a sanctuary city policy.

-Takes away local government choice.

-Imposes huge penalties and imposes costs of compliance, even for an informal policy.

-Symbolic effect of the law/referendum is to raise fears of immigrants living among us; divides and stirs the pot.

-Unjust, unconstitutional and a waste of state resources.

-Counter-productive. Puts the most vulnerable, women in situations of domestic violence and human trafficking victims, at highest risk by placing barriers between immigrants and law enforcement.

-Bill has been proposed last 3-4 legislative sessions and never passed. Referendum would be struck down as unconstitutional.

So PLEASE, contact your senators ASAP on this issue. Tell them to VOTE NO on HB146 and HB147. It is quick, it is easy, and it makes a HUGE difference!

Testimony in opposition to HB 146 and HB 147

 Soft Landing Missoula is a local, grassroots non-profit whose mission is to help Missoula be a welcoming, supportive and informed community that can assist refugees as they integrate and thrive. Thanks to the International Rescue Committee as the resettlement agency, about 225 refugees from four countries now call Missoula home. Although refugees are immigrants with documented status, we understand the plight of undocumented individuals, for they have also suffered and feared much in the countries from which they fled.

 We oppose HB 146 and HB 147 because they do nothing to make Montana residents safer. The proposed legislation is a useless, threatening gesture, “nugatory” in legal terms, that promises punishing fines to Montana towns and cities that do anything to block or delay or give less priority to the giving of information to federal immigration authorities. These bills falsely assume a solution where no problem exists; as the fiscal note to this bill says, no Montana town or city has adopted any resolution or ordinance restricting any information about a person’s citizenship status or prohibiting compliance with a federal immigration order.

 Would the resources and time committed to investigating and enforcing such punitive measures make Montanans any safer? All of us want safety, and immigrants in Missoula have experienced that commitment by Montana law enforcement. But federal law enforcement in the service of safety and national security has not always guaranteed these things, even for citizens. In recent years federal enforcement agencies have been responsible for much unnecessary pain--family separations, child detentions, cruel asylum policies, racial profiling, and more. These actions continue to erode public confidence in immigration enforcement.

 Moreover, this approach is counter-productive. These types of policies create fear in the local immigrant communities and spreads distrust, particularly among women in domestic violence situations, and women and girls who are here as a result of human trafficking. They are the ones who are at greatest risk of being dissuaded from trusting law enforcement if they believe the local police will turn them over to ICE if they reach out for help and potentially force them back into unsafe circumstances. Intentionally placing barriers between Montana law enforcement and immigrants, Montana government and minorities, is onerous and not helpful to anyone.

Please vote against HB 146 and HB 147.


The board of Soft Landing Missoula and executive director Mary Poole