The world is experiencing the largest forced migration crisis in recorded history. With more than 65 million forcibly displaced from their homes and more than 21 million refugees seeking safety, what any one country can do may seem insignificant. But as the most powerful country in the world, we must support the children, fathers and mothers who are fleeing their home countries for fear of persecution because of race, religion, nationality or political opinion in search of the very same freedoms our country is built upon.

Support for the resettlement of refugees matters now more than ever. Whether you look at it from a global perspective, how it relates to the United States, or just to us here in Maine, welcoming refugees puts us on the right side of history, as it is in keeping with our nation’s commitment to freedom and hope.

Providing protection to people seeking safety is one of our nation’s proudest and longest standing traditions, including resettling Jewish and other European refugees during World War II, Vietnamese refugees in the 1970s, Eastern Bloc countries in the 1980-1990s and more recently refugees from the Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. With every refugee we welcome we are not just giving someone a second chance, we are safeguarding someone’s life.

Our nation’s resettlement program is a strategic one. We welcome a small number of the most vulnerable refugees and share the humanitarian responsibility with key strategic allies in countries and regions that are disproportionately affected by forced displacement. Ensuring the security of our country is paramount and the significant screening process for refugees is by far more stringent and complete than for any other traveler who comes to the United States. We support a thorough vetting process as we have for over four decades and believe that keeping America safe and welcoming refugees are not mutually exclusive. By resettling refugees, we not only save refugees’ lives but help to bring stability and security to geopolitically sensitive regions. When we welcome refugees, we are helping to make America safer and stronger.

Here in Maine, where we welcomed 642 refugees last year, we see that we are not only a lifeline for them, but they are a lifeline for Maine. In a state where our deaths outnumber our births and an aging population is challenging our demand for a viable workforce, refugees fill a critical need, becoming dedicated and loyal employees. Refugees bring a diverse skill set, many have advanced degrees, and all are eager to support their families and become established in their communities. In addition, they infuse our cities and towns with new languages, cuisine, music and art that enrich our society.

Our agency has certainly been blessed for having “welcomed the stranger” for more than 40 years. For us, it is truly a calling to serve this most vulnerable population. Inspired by the Catholic social teaching that guides our mission, we stand in solidarity with refugees recognizing that we are one human family regardless of any national or religious differences.

While we are living through an unprecedented time of division and turmoil nationally and throughout the world, Catholic Charities remains committed to being a leader in bringing unity to our communities. We strive to accomplish that by responding with love and focusing on peace as we encounter others in our efforts.

The important work of assisting refugees can seem overwhelming, but it has never mattered more. If you believe in protecting the life and dignity of the human person, I ask you to let your support for the plight of refugees be made known. Raise your voice on behalf of the meek. Donate to those who have been robbed of their sense of security. Lend a hand to welcome someone who will likely never go home again. You can be the turning point in the new life they have so desperately hoped for. Our support is critical.

Stephen Letourneau is the CEO of Catholic Charities Maine.