Refugee Resettlement

About 65 million forcibly displaced people are currently living throughout the world, marking the highest number in modern recorded history. An estimated 25.4 million of these individuals are refugees who have fled their home countries due to conflict and violent persecution, and over half of them are under the age of 18.1

For these refugees, starting over in a new place with a different language and culture is a difficult journey. They come with skills and potential, ready to contribute to society — but they also face tremendous barriers. EMBARC’s mission is to empower refugees with the tools they need to overcome these barriers, so they can become self-sufficient and productive members of the community.

Who are refugees?
A refugee is someone who has fled from his or her home country and cannot return because he or she has a well-founded fear of persecution based on religion, race, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. The average length of time that someone remains a refugee is 17 years, a time span that has increased over the past two decades due to the intractability of many conflicts.

The most vulnerable refugees include, among others, women at risk, survivors of torture, and orphans and other minors separated from their families. Without long-term solutions, these refugees will remain in desperate situations for decades, living in overcrowded refugee camps and urban areas, and unable to rebuild their lives in dignity and peace.

What is the process for resettling in the U.S.?
Since 1975, more than 3.3 million refugees have been admitted and resettled in the United States. Approximately 30,000+ war-torn refugees have made Iowa their home,2 after a long and arduous process. Most refugees go through a period of 18 to 24 months of vetting before they can travel to the U.S.3

Once a refugee case is recommended for resettlement and accepted within the U.S., a security screening is conducted to determine if the case will be admitted.

A U.S.-led multiyear screening involves collaboration from eight U.S. federal agencies.

The U.S. model of refugee resettlement emphasizes a path to citizenship, immediate and indefinite work eligibility, and repayment of a travel loan.

Early resettlement happens through local resettlement agencies, which provide services to refugees for up to 90 days from their arrival. These services can include:

Receiving refugees at the airport and connecting them with safe, affordable housing and other basic necessities

Assisting with Social Security cards, school enrollments and health screenings

Assisting with employment/job placement services and applying for benefits

Providing cultural and employment orientations (learning how to use the bus system, finding English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, etc.)

How does EMBARC help?
The maximum length of time a refugee can receive federal assistance is 90 days after arrival, but services can end immediately if a refugee gets a job or moves to another state to be near other family members. Once that happens, there are no caseworkers to take over.

EMBARC helps fill the gaps by connecting refugees with the education and resources they need to integrate into the community and realize the full potential of their skills. Our goal is to enable people to stand on their own two feet and thrive in their new home. Much of what we do is driven by a peer-to-peer social learning model in which refugees take what they learn and teach others, creating a ripple effect.

Our programs and outreach are made possible through assistance from Polk County, as well as government grants, private donations and partnerships with other organizations. Together, we advocate for those in need and create opportunities for refugees to become actively involved in community life.

1. Source: The UN Refugee Agency. http://www.unhcr.org/en-us/figures-at-a-glance.html
2. Source: United States Refugee Processing Center. http://www.wrapsnet.org/
3. Source: The U.S. Department of State. https://www.state.gov/j/prm/ra/

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