USCRI: U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants

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About the International Institute of Erie

The International Institute of Erie
The International Institute of Erie (IIE), a local field office of The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI), has been assisting refugees and immigrants in northwest Pennsylvania since 1919.  IIE brings hope and opportunity to the lives of refugees and immigrants by helping them to become self-sufficient contributing members of the community.  Through a wide range of direct and collaborative programs, IIE helps new arrivals to successfully adapt to life in the United States.  In addition to resettlement services, IIE provides interpretation in over thirty languages and is known as an important resource to refugees, immigrants, and service providers in the area.  The agency also manages a licensed child care center, making it an ideal resettlement site for female-headed households.

Over the past ten years IIE has resettled refugees from Bhutan, Bosnia, Burma, Eritrea, Ghana, Iraq, Kosovo, Liberia, Somalia, Sudan, Vietnam, and the former USSR including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Meskhetian Turks (region), Russia, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

What is a Refugee?
A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence.  A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.  Refugees differ from other immigrants in that they do not have the choice to remain in their home country.  Refugees flee their countries to save their lives.  They run from war and persecution, often losing beloved family members along the way. Many refugees then spend years and sometimes decades in substandard refugee camps.  Less than one percent of all refugees get the chance to leave a camp and resettle in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, or other countries that resettle refugees.

What is Refugee Resettlement?
Each year, Americans welcome refugees to the United States.  The U.S. Department of States’ Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Refugee Resettlement partner with agencies like IIE to assist refugees through the resettlement process.  When a refugee arrives in America, he or she usually comes with little more than the clothes on his or her back.  Organizations like IIE meet refugees at the airport and help them begin building new lives in America. 

For more information, see our Frequently Asked Questions >>

Learn more about USCRI’s programs and services nationwide >>

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