Refugee 101, Part 4: Active Resettlement

In the previous post, we introduced a framework for exploring refugee resettlement in three parts: international, national and local. We examined the international piece in closer detail. Here, we’ll provide an overview of the national and local components of refugee resettlement.

National

Refugee resettlement to America is based upon Presidential Determination, which is declared ahead of each fiscal year.  Typically, the number of persons actually resettled is significantly less than the official ceiling. Prior to fiscal year 2018, the U.S. resettled approximately 2% of the world’s resettled refugee population.

Refugee resettlement to the United States has steadily declined since the 1980s. Even so, the U.S. has historically resettled more refugees than any other country. Over the last two years, however, U.S. intake has been sharply reduced. Today, America resettles fewer refugees that any of the 38 participating third-party resettlement countries. 

In 2018, the refugee admissions ceiling was lowered to 45,000, though only 22,491 individuals were resettled into the U.S during that period. For fiscal year 2019, the ceiling was further reduced to just 30,000- the lowest since 1980’s passage of the Refugee Act.

It is important to note that the process of resettlement is a complex one.  Resettlement to the United States, in particular, is an intense, thorough and often lengthy process.  Of all categories of immigrants to America, refugees are the most rigorously screened and vetted.

Image is part of a learning video created by Louise El Yaafouri for Colorado Refugee Connect. View the full video and get involved at  corefugeeconnect.org .

Image is part of a learning video created by Louise El Yaafouri for Colorado Refugee Connect. View the full video and get involved at corefugeeconnect.org.

HOW ARE REFUGEES EVALUATED FOR U.S. RESETTLEMENT?

1.    The UNHCR identifies candidates and collects essential information. Candidates undergo an extensive interview and vetting process through the United Nations, in addition to a biometric screening and medical evaluation.

2. The few who are approved for resettlement are assigned to a third party country for consideration.

3. Candidates who are assigned U.S. resettlement are referred to a Resettlement Service Center, or RSC.  The RSC creates a file for the applicant.

4.  Candidates are subject to a vigorous screening process that includes multiple federal agencies, including the National Counter Terrorism Center, the FBI, The Department of Homeland Security and the State Department.   If, at any point, an individual or family is determined to be a risk factor, the application process is ended.  

5.   The Department of Homeland Security conducts in-depth interviews with specially trained agents, and updated fingerprints are taken. Any inconsistencies result in the repetition of this step or a complete termination of the application process.

6.   A full biometric screening and evaluation process is repeated, including fingerprinting and/or iris scanning.

7.   The candidate undergoes a full medical evaluation.  For those who fail the medical component, the process is terminated.

8.  Candidates take part in cultural orientation programming to help prepare them for the transition.  Non-government resettlement entities work to determine the best location for U.S. resettlement.  The candidate does not choose his or her destination state or city.

9.  Travel is organized and the candidate is subject to new security screenings.

10.  He or she arrives in the United States and is greeted by a representative from the partnering resettlement agency.  A new set of processes and chapters of learning begin.

Image is part of a learning video created by Louise El Yaafouri for Colorado Refugee Connect. View the full video and get involved at  corefugeeconnect.org .

Image is part of a learning video created by Louise El Yaafouri for Colorado Refugee Connect. View the full video and get involved at corefugeeconnect.org.

From The Newcomer Student, “Many refugees come to the United States without any possessions and without knowing anyone. Other refugees come here to be reunited with family members. All refugees receive limited assistance from the U.S. government and localized non-profit organizations.

The United States, for instance, will provide initial haven transport for documented refugees. The commodity is received as a loan with an expected five-year repayment period. The government (or partnering nonprofit organization) will make provisional housing and job training/placement available. The receipt of this aid sets refugees apart from their immigrant peers, who do not receive any form of resettlement compensation or assistance from the U.S. government.”

Local

Post-resettlement entities walk beside newly arrived refugees in achieving healthy resettlement outcomes. The Department of State partners with nine separate non-profit entities throughout the United States to coordinate refugee resettlement.  These include: U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, International Rescue Committee, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC), HIAS, World Relief, Episcopal Migration Ministries, and Church World Service. The presence and concentration of partner organizations differs by region.

Resettled refugees do have certain requirements that they are expected to work toward post-resettlement. In addition to following the laws of our country, the must: attend English language courses, actively seek out employment (for adults) or attend school (as children). Resettled refugees are also expected to repay the U.S. government for the initial travel loan.

Resettlement agencies are also responsible for meeting certain objectives.  Namely, they must greet the new families, secure initial housing, and aid with successful integration. Securing employment and preparing new arrivals to participate in the workforce is a primary goal.  

Because integration is multi-faceted, each organization’s programming may differ slightly, so that it can be tailored to the unique populations it serves.  Secondary services may include assistance in the areas of adult ESL, school enrollment, transportation, translation, credit counseling, physical and mental health care, nutrition and senior care.

Image is part of a learning video created by Louise El Yaafouri for Colorado Refugee Connect. View the full video and get involved at  corefugeeconnect.org .

Image is part of a learning video created by Louise El Yaafouri for Colorado Refugee Connect. View the full video and get involved at corefugeeconnect.org.

Of course, it takes a village.  Our communities rely upon an extensive, interwoven network of refugee network service providers to ensure successful integration for new Americans. Take a moment to identify and connect with the resettlement agencies (and partner organizations) that are active in your state, city or region. These groups can be invaluable resources to us as educators and help to make up the network of supports for our newcomer families.

SOURCES:

American Immigration Council (2013). Located at americanimmgrationcouncil.org. Retrieved Oct. 2012.

Russell, Sharon Stanton (2002). Refugees: Risks and Challenges Worldwide. Migration Policy Institute, 1946–4037.

Hamilton, Richards & Moore, Dennis (2004). Education of Refugee Children: Documenting and Implementing Change. In Educational Interventions for Refugee Children, eds Richard Hamilton & Dennis Moore, London UK: RoutledgeFalmer, Chapter 8.

McBrien,J.Lynn(2003).A Second Chance for Refugee Students. Educational Leadership, Vol. 61, No. 2, 76–9 O. Educational Needs and Barriers for Refugee Students in the United States: A Review of Literature. Review of Educational Research Vol. 75, No. 3, 329–64.

United Nations, High Commissioner for Refugees (2012). United Nations Communications and Public Information Service, Geneva, Switzerland. Located at unhcr.org. Retrieved Aug. 2015.

Patrick, Erin (2004). The U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program. Migration Policy Institute, Washington, D.C. Located at migrationpolicy.org/article/us-refugee- resettlement-program. Retrieved Aug. 2015.

United Nations Convention related to the Status of Refugees (1951). UN Article 1. Located at unhcr.org. Retrieved June 2011.

International Refugee Committee (2015). SOAR, New York. Located at rescue. org. Retrieved Aug. 2015.

Van Hahn, Nguyen (2002). Annual Report to Congress- Executive Summary. Office of Refugee Resettlement. Located at acf.hhs.gov. Retrieved Dec. 2010.

Edwards, James R. Jr. (2012). Religious Agencies and Refugee Resettlement. Center for Immigration Studies. Memorandum, March 2012.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (2012). United Nations Communications and Public Information Service, Geneva, Switzerland. Located at unhcr.org. Retrieved Aug. 2015.

U.S. Committee for Refugees & Immigrants (USCRI) (2015). Arlington, Va., refugees.org. Retrieved Aug. 2015.

U.S. Committee for Refugees & Immigrants (USCRI) (2015). Arlington, Va., refugees.org. Retrieved Aug. 2015.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) (2013). Path to Citizenship. Located at uscis.gov. Retrieved Aug. 2015.

U.S. Committee for Refugees & Immigrants (USCRI) (2015). Arlington, Va. Located at refugees.org. Retrieved Aug. 2015.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) (2013). Path to Citizenship. Located at uscis.gov. Retrieved Aug. 2014.