The U.S. Refugee Program provides aid to those fleeing persecution, oppression, and conflict. Episcopal Migration Ministries is one of 10 national agencies that hold agreements with the Department of State to resettle refugees from around the world in cities across the United States.
We offer assistance to newly arrived refugees through our nationwide network of 33 offices. Local staff help equip newcomers with the tools needed to adjust to life in the U.S. and achieve self-sufficiency.
Who are refugees?
Refugees are people who face serious human rights abuses because of who they are or what they believe. They flee to other countries seeking refuge and cannot return home because their own governments cannot or will not protect them.
Specifically, as described by the 1951 Convention on Refugees: “A refugee is any person who is outside their country of nationality and who is unable or unwilling to return or avail herself or himself of the protection of that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.”
Where do refugees go?
At the end of 2010, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) identified 15.4 million refugees throughout the world.
After crossing into a neighboring country, refugees register with the UNHCR. Those given refugee status remain in camps -- often for years -- constrained by few opportunities and an uncertain future.
How do refugees get to the United States?
A small percentage of refugees are referred to the U.S. Refugee Resettlement program by the UNHCR. Others are referred by a close relative in the United States. Finally, there are special designations for members of groups of special humanitarian concern.
Every year, the number of refugees admitted to the United States is established by the President, with input from Congress and the State Department. Candidates referred to the United States are screened by the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department.
After being approved by the government, individuals are allocated to one of 10 agencies. One of these is Episcopal Migration Ministries. These agencies have local partners that coordinate the resettlement of refugees and help them transition to life in the United States.
Who does Episcopal Migration Ministries help?
In 2010, we resettled nearly 5,000 refugees from the following regions of the world: Africa (Algeria, Burundi, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Liberia, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Togo); East Asia (Burma, Vietnam); Europe and Central Asia (Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan); Latin America and Caribbean (Cuba, Colombia); Near East and South Asia (Afghanistan, Bhutan, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Yemen).
What types of services does the Reception and Placement program provide?
We provide numerous services to aid newly arriving refugees and help them adjust to life in the United States. Primarily, refugees are assisted through the Reception and Placement program, funded by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau for Population, Refugees, and Migration.Through this program, our affiliate offices provide refugees with services for a 90-day period following arrival. These services include: housing, furnishings, clothing, food provisions, assistance in applying for social security cards, medical screenings, English language instruction, and job placement.
Who does the Matching Grant program help and what does it provide?
Complementing these services, refugees receive more comprehensive employment services and referrals through the Matching Grant program administered in 24 of our 33 affiliate offices. This program is funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement in the Department of Health and Human Services.
The Matching Grant program is designed to assist newly arrived refugees, asylees, Cuban and Haitian entrants, certain Amerasians, and certified victims of trafficking. Matching Grant services often include: intensive case management, employment services and referrals, as well as English language training. Additionally, clients receive funds as an alternative to public cash assistance.
What about private contributions?
Our affiliate offices must also match the federal funds received with private contributions that are generated through the services and contributions of congregations, individuals, and volunteers who assist our clients within the first four months of their arrival.
Can communities involved in resettlement receive funding?
The Office of Refugee Resettlement also provides additional funding to communities where the environment is favorable for resettling refugees. These communities provide a particularly welcoming environment for resettling refugees with reasonable employment opportunities and affordable housing. The Office of Refugee Resettlement funds a variety of programs in these communities, such as: mental health services, extended case management, intensive medical services, community outreach, and assistance for ethnic community-based groups.