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Better-Functioning Refugee Program Helps All of Humanity

By Syed Hassan

The United States’s refugee resettlement program was largely considered to have been greatly diminished, after major cuts were made during the previous administration. Back then, Islamic Relief USA expressed concern about the reduced cap on the number of refugees accepted each year. In 2020, it called for accepting zero refugees, but ultimately settled for 18,000 that year. 

Recently, though, it appears the program is back on track. Some 150 refugee resettlement offices have opened around the country, and the program is slated to reach the current administration’s goal of accepting 125,000 refugees by year’s end. Islamic Relief USA is pleased about this development. 

The New York Times recently reported that more than 40,000 refugees entered into the country through the first five months of the fiscal year. It is the first time in seven years that the program has accepted this many people in a similar time period.

For clarification, it’s important to know that the refugees’ situation–and the circumstances in which they arrive here — is a lot different than what is portrayed in the media regarding the Southern border crisis. The individuals at the Southern border are largely people seeking protection through asylum, and under current conditions, wait a long time to make their case due to a massive backlog in immigration courts. The refugee program, on the other hand, is far different, as these individuals underwent a rigorous screening process that included medical and security vetting and interviews with officers overseas. It is only after completion of this vetting that they are allowed to come to the states.

As the International Rescue Committee, which is working with Islamic Relief, described it to the Times, “Refugees are vetted more intensively than any other group seeking to enter the U.S.  All those seeking to come here must first be registered by the United Nations refugee agency ,which identifies the families most in need. The U.S. then hand-selects every person who is admitted. 

To help them become acclimated to their new surroundings/adopted homeland, the federal government provides funding for classes to help them become familiar with U.S. culture and get connected with local groups that can provide job training, food assistance, even housing. 

In the prior administration, the Times reported that officers were reassigned, overseas posts were shuttered, and the number of refugees allowed into the country was reduced each year. As a result, only 64,000 refugees entered the United States under the prior administration.

Besides it being a moral move, accepting refugees ultimately strengthens the economy.

The Administration on Children and Families, which is part of the federal Health and Human Services Department found that between 2005 and 2019, these individuals have collectively yielded a net positive fiscal impact of $123.8 billion, with significant contributions at both federal and state levels.

Revenue-wise, refugees have generated an estimated $581 billion for governments at all levels. Thus, the idea that they put a strain on the economy or take jobs away is slim on facts.

A refugee program with strong effective checks and balances helps make the United strong, financially and spiritually.

Islamic Relief USA is encouraged by these developments. The organization currently works with partners in five metro areas: Los Angeles, New York City, the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area, Dallas, and Sacramento. It recently hosted a webinar about this subject, too. 

In 2022 alone, IRUSA worked with 26 partners around the country, helping more than 36,000 refugees in 15 states and 26 cities. Included were 168 refugees from Afghanistan who escaped following the takeover of the current regime.

IRUSA will continue to work in helping refugees resettle.

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