Following consultations (discussions) with cabinet representatives and Congress, a determination is drafted for signature by the President. The Presidential Determination establishes the overall admissions levels and regional allocations of all refugees for the upcoming fiscal year.No refugees may be admitted in the new fiscal year until the Presidential Determination has been signed.
The US Refugee Resettlement Program
Refugees Awareness Week (RAW) Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA 12 April 2011
1. What was life before you go to the US?Lack of Clean Water Supply Poor Housing Poor Health Facilities Security Issues Unemployment Education Vegetables Garden Human Rights Activists Cleaning Up Campaigns
2. How were you selected for refugee resettlement and what was the journey like? The Presidential Determination Review the refugee situation or emergency refugee situation.Project the extent of possible participation of the UnitedStates in resettling refugees. Discuss the reasons for believing that the proposedadmission of refugees is justified by humanitarianconcerns, grave humanitarian concerns or is otherwise in thenational interest.
The United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP)Priority 1Cases that are identified and referred to the program by the United Nations HighCommissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a United States Embassy, or a designatednon-governmental organization (NGO).Priority 2Groups of special humanitarian concern identified by the U.S. refugee program.Priority 3Family Reunification Cases (spouses, unmarried children under 21, and parents ofpersons lawfully admitted to the United States as refugees or asylees or permanentresidents (green card holders) or U.S. citizens who previously had refugee or asylumstatus
United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) Partners & Roles Department of State/Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) – PRM has overall USRAPmanagement responsibility overseas and has lead in proposing admissions ceilings andprocessing priorities.United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) – UNHCR refers cases to the USRAP. Resettlement Support Centers (RSC), previously referred to as Overseas Processing Entities(OPE) – Under cooperative agreement with the Department of State, RSCs consist ofinternational organizations or non-governmental organizations that carry out administrative andprocessing functions, such as file preparation and storage, data collection and out-processingactivities. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – Within DHS, U.S. Citizenship and ImmigrationServices (USCIS) has responsibility for adjudicating applications for refugee status and reviewingcase decisions; the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) screens arriving refugees foradmission at the port of entry. Department of Health and Human Services/Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) – ORRadministers domestic resettlement benefits for arriving refugees. International Organization for Migration (IOM) – Department of State contractors serve primarily asthe travel agent for the USRAP and the OPE in certain locations. Non-Governmental Organizations – Provide resettlement assistance and services to arrivingrefugees.
Refugee resettlement to the United States by region, 1990-2005Source: Migration Policy Institute
3. What were your expectations of the US before you got here?Family ReunionSafety (Security , Peace & Freedom)EducationAdequate Health CareSelf-SufficiencyHelping my siblingsService; that is, giving back to humanity locally and globally. Did they change after you came?No, I am on track ….Thanks to the limited internet access I had.
4. What was expected of you as a new refugee arrival? US Cultural Orientation Program Pre-Arrival Processing The Resettlement Agency Community Services Housing*** Transportation Employment*** Education*** Health*** Money Management Rights and Responsibilities*** Cultural Adjustment
5. What were the initial and immediate challenges of resettling in the US? Cold WeatherMy “Liberian” AccentTransportationTime: “The African-Time Syndrome.”Just getting use to common things “eating three times a day.”
6. How was your experience with maneuvering through the health care system?I was on the Welfare Program for 2 Months Food Stamp Medicare Cash Assistance for Rent Lived with my month for two weeks.I started working during the 3rd Month after my arrival with the Worcester PublicSchools as a “Paraprofessional.” I became disqualified from the Welfare Program because of my income. Have yearly health insurance. Rented my own apartment.General Access to Health Care System Very easy for me Make appointments with my PHCP Take the bus/drive to my appointments Pay my co-pay and pay for prescription if my coverage doesn’t cover it.
6. If you could improve anything about the refugee resettlement program, what would it be? The Immigration Officer(s) doing the INS face-to-face interviews should be familiar with individualrefugees stories. The issue of Fraud within the Overseas Processing Entity (OPE) is also rampant.Age limitations for the Priority III program is unnecessary. Airfare Loans should be waived for refugees admitted in the US with special needs, such as, pre-existing health conditions.Refugees should have a “choice” based on recommendations form the Resettlement Agency wherethey want to initially stay upon arrival in the US (if they don’t have a family already in the US).US-based Refugees Resettlement Agencies should be proactive in assisting refugees access to localcommunity resources and they should also create strong networks with other agencies to see what isworking in their areas and what isn’t working.Since most refugees especially from Sub-Saharan Africa are farmers, there should be programs to assistrefugees use their “existing skills” to foster self-sufficiency through sustainable gardens.