Who is a refugee?
A REFUGEE is a person who is “unable or unwilling to return to his or her country of origin because of past persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution, based on the person’s race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion”.
An IMMIGRANT voluntarily leaves his/her country of origin to work, study, or live in another country.
ASYLEES are individuals, who, on their own, travel to the United States, apply for and receive a grant of asylum. These individuals do not enter the United States as refugees. Once they are in the United States, they apply for asylum, a status that will acknowledge that they meet the definition of a refugee and that will allow them to remain in the United States.
What is the difference between a displaced person and a refugee? Why is it important to know?
When a person flees his homeland for fear of persecution, he/she is a displaced person. When a displaced person arrives at a country that agrees to give them safe haven, they register (providing documentation of who they are) and prove they are unable or unwilling to return to his or her country of origin because of past persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution, they then become a refugee. If they cannot prove these essentials items, they stay in the place of safe haven indefinitely.
We have 65 Million Displaced Individuals worldwide. 1 in every 103 humans on earth. The largest humanitarian crisis every.
After they are determined a refugee, what is next? 3 Options
1st- Repatriation: returning to their home country if it is deemed safe and secure. (this is the only option for displaced persons – mentioned above)
2nd- Naturalization/First Asylum: settling in the country to which they have fled. (This is only an option if the harboring country agrees – most do not)
3rd – Resettlement: moving to a third country for permanent resettlement.
Less than 1% of the total refugee population is accepted for resettlement.
How many refugees are we talking about?
• There were 19.5 million refugees worldwide at the end of 2014 – the most refugees since WWII.
• During the year 2014, 42,500 persons per day were forced to leave their homes
• Developing countries host over 86% of the world’s refugees
• In 2014, Turkey hosted the largest number of refugees at 1.95 million refugees.
• 51% of refugees were under 18 years old.
This is the highest figure for child refugees in more than a decade.
• Number of forcibly displaced worldwide: 65 million
• Syria has become the world’s top source of refugees,
Afghanistan had held this position for more than three decades
• Today, on average, almost one out of every four refugees is Syrian
• 7.2 million refugees spent at least 5 years in a camp, many wait 2 decades for resettlement
OK, they are a refugee, now what?
Through the United Nations, refugees WANTING resettlement, go through the following processes before Resettlement location assigned – they do not choose where they go
• Background checks
• Medical tests, appointments
• More interviews
• Cultural Orientation
They are ‘Coming to America’ (the 18-24 month period talked about in the news – starts at this point in the total “process”)
Once a refugee is assigned to resettle in the United States, this detailed and rigorous security screening process begins:
• an initial assessment by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (listed above)
• U.S. Department of State
• in-person interview with Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS),
• National Counterterrorism Center/Intelligence Community,
• FBI, Dept. of Homeland Security,
• US DEPT of Defense,
• US Customs and Border Protection,
• Transportation Security Administration.
• And an additional check before leaving their country
The U.S. welcomes half of the 1% of refugees allowed to resettle,
more than all other resettlement countries combined
90 days to start a life over…90 days!
Who pays for refugee resettlement?
• The U.S. government provides an interest-free loan to be paid back starting at 6 months after arrival
• Contracted resettlement agencies provide support to refugee families during the “reception and placement” period, 90 days.
• To assist refugees in becoming productive members of our society, Agencies:
– secure housing
– schedules medical appointments
– help the refugees attain necessary legal documents (SS Card, State ID, Etc.)
– enrolls children in school
– and adults in ESL courses
– provides employment services
Do refugees burden our economy?
• How they benefit our country is dependent on how well we welcome and support their integration into the fabric of our nation.
• Studies have found that welcoming refugees has a positive or at least a neutral effect on a host community’s economy and wages. (Washington Post)
• Their arrival boosts demands for food, shelter, infrastructure and many other services, benefiting farmers, construction companies, landlords and more. (Washington Post)
• Refugees are eager to work, open businesses, buy homes and enter higher education. This is their first opportunity to live in a free country after fleeing persecution and living in a refugee camp.
When did the refugee admission process start and how did it evolve to today?
Following the admission of over 250,000 displaced Europeans, the first refugee legislation was enacted by the U.S. Congress — the Displaced Persons Act of 1948. This legislation provided for the admission of an additional 400,000 displaced Europeans. Later laws provided for the admission of persons fleeing Communist regimes, largely from Hungary, Poland, Yugoslavia, Korea and China, and in the 1960’s Cubans fleeing Castro arrived in masse. Most of these refugees were assisted by private ethnic and religious organizations in the U.S. which formed the base for the public/private roles of U.S. resettlement today.
With the fall of Vietnam in April 1975, the U.S. faced the challenge of resettling hundreds of thousands of Indochinese using an ad hoc Indochinese Refugee Task Force and temporary funding. Congress realized it needed to create procedures to deal with the ongoing resettlement of refugees; thus, the Refugee Act of 1980 was passed. This Act incorporates the definition of refugee used in the U.N. Protocol and makes provision for regular flow, as well as an emergency admission of refugees, and authorizes federal assistance for the resettlement of refugees. The Refugee Act provides the legal basis for our program today.