USCRI: U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants

New Refugees in Black Hawk County to Get Help with Becoming Self-Sufficient with $150,000 Grant

October 16, 2012

(Des Moines, IA) – The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) today announced that refugees in Black Hawk County will soon get help from the federal government to re-start their lives in America and become economically self-sufficient.  The federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) has awarded $150,000 to USCRI to assist secondary refugee migrants living in Black Hawk County with basic resettlement services such as learning English, securing housing, cultural orientation, and other case management needs.  The 17-month program will also focus on helping the Waterloo community, schools, and businesses with translation and interpreting services for interacting with the newcomers, as well as building relationships between community volunteers and the newcomers.  USCRI Des Moines will use the funds to open a sub-office in Waterloo, which will provide services to the community and the secondary refugee migrants under the grant.  The grant will also allow USCRI Des Moines to create stronger connections between the Black Hawk County community and new refugees through creative outreach and proven strategies.

“This grant is good news for all the residents, new and old, of Black Hawk County,” said Valerie Stubbs, Director of USCRI Des Moines.  “With this help, USCRI can ensure that new refugees in Waterloo may become economically self-sufficient, contributing members of their new community.  Many of the newcomers, primarily from Burma, have migrated to our region thanks to the promising employment opportunities found here, often in Iowa’s meatpacking industry. Many of them have limited English.  Black Hawk County is far from any resettlement agency in the upper Midwest, leaving these new refugee families without access to needed temporary support and services for community integration. These are hard-working men and women who are anxious to get on their feet, start their new lives, and provide for their families as independent individuals.  This grant will be of good help to them.”

The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants field office in Des Moines opened its doors in 2010 to help refugees build new lives in America.  Through a wide range of direct and collaborative programs, USCRI Des Moines helps refugees successfully adapt to life in the United States, nurtures community integration for newcomers, promotes self-sufficiency, and forges community partnerships. 

Refugees are people who came to the U.S. legally through one of the annually limited slots available to refugees nationwide. To gain entrance into the United States, refugees face numerous security reviews and background checks.  In some cases, refugee families have assisted the United States, making them targets of revenge, threats, and terrorism in their homeland.  Some of the current refugees moving to the U.S. are victims of the Iraq War.  Most refugees come as families and are fleeing their homeland to avoid specific threats to their safety. The government has granted these families permanent residency to escape ethnic, religious, and political oppression and violence. 
Secondary migration refers to the voluntary movement of migrants or refugees within the United States away from the community in which they were originally resettled under the U.S. refugee resettlement program.  A common reason refugees move from their original resettlement community is to find new or better paying employment.

USCRI has been protecting refugees, serving immigrants and upholding freedom since 1911.

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