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  • The US Refugee Resettlement program is suspended for 120 days, forbidding any use of federal funds to be used by states or contracted agencies;
  • The number of refugees approved for resettlement this year has been halved;
  • Resettlement of Syrian refugees are suspended indefinitely.

Two sets of federal funds are used in the US resettlement programs – the Department of State for the initial 30 day “Reception and Placement” period; and through Health and Human Service (HHS) – Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). ORR funds are typically passed down through the states to contracted agencies and includes a multitude of services including medical services, mental health, education, employment, etc. These funds are only available for refugees within an initial 8-month period to promote self-sufficiency, which baseline means you make enough money to pay your rent.

Picture this: you have survived war, fled your country, spent 2 years waiting in a neighboring country to be resettled, are approved, come to the US where you don’t speak the language or have any transferrable job skills, are suffering PTSD and loss of family and culture, you have years of untreated medical and dental issues due to lack of access. Oh – and you have children – also traumatized and needing medical help, struggling in school as they’ve never had a day of formal schooling other than the camp. You have 8 months to become self-sufficient to learn the language, get a job, pay your rent, live on your own. GO.

Guess what? Most of them do it.

The Impact

Staff will be laid off, some agencies closed altogether, and many refugees left without access to the critical services they need to become self-sufficient. Which frankly seems counterintuitive. We also expect to see conservative- leaning states to withdraw from the Resettlement program altogether, as Arizona already has drafted a bill for.

When the EO was passed, refugees who were in flight or already approved for travel were not allowed into the country and were detained. The government has since allowed them entry to the country through this Friday, Feb 4, 2017. Those who were approved for travel and who were waiting to fly after Friday, now have to start the process over again – which could take months or years. Many sold all their possessions to save some money to bring to the US.

Syrian refugees were considered a priority population due to the critical nature of the war. If they were approved for travel to the US already, they now have to wait for approval elsewhere, putting their safety at risk.

For more on the impact felt by refugees overseas –

For more US Refugee 101 –

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