USCRI: U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants

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Talking Points About Refugees in the United States

Whether penning a letter to the editor for your local newspaper in honor of World Refugee Day on June 20th, or writing to your state, local, or national elected officials, here are some important messages about refugees to emphasize:

Legal Status and Resettlement

  • Refugees are people who came here legally through one of the annually limited slots available to refugees nationwide. To gain entrance into the United States, refugees must apply to the federal government and face numerous security reviews and background checks.  Once they are granted entrance in the United States, refugees have the full legal status of permanent residents.
  • In some cases, refugee families have assisted the United States.  This has made 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 US Government has granted these families permanent residency to escape ethnic, religious, and political oppression and violence.  
  • The actual number of refugees being settled in the U.S. is small.  According to the US Bureau of Immigration Statistics, 56,000 refugees resettled in the United States in 2011.  Refugee resettlement has successfully worked in the U.S. for several decades, integrating refugees into local communities as they rebuild their lives and contribute to the local economy.  

Strengthening Families, Contributing to Their Communities

  • In the last several years, many of the refugees resettled in the U.S. are direct family members (parents, children, siblings) of refugees currently living in the country.
  • Family is the most fundamental support structure we have in our lives, and based on past refugee resettlement experience, family support has been proven to make refugees' transition successful.  The Refugee Resettlement Program reunites family members whom circumstances have forced to be separated for months and even years.
  • Statistics show that refugees contribute a great deal to their local communities.  Many start new businesses, employ people, earn an education, pay taxes, and raise strong families.  Put simply, refugees start contributing soon after arriving to the United States.  These families are taxpayers, they are employed within months, and they often keep their jobs in the long term.
  • America’s history is one of welcoming legal immigrants.  Refugee families are some of our newest legal immigrants, and given their painful backgrounds of war and persecution, they cherish their new, American freedoms and opportunities in a way that is constructive and inspiring for us all.

Proven Success in Integration and Transition

  • Resettled refugees are helped to learn English and they must immediately look for work in the U.S.  Furthermore, refugees are required to take the first job offered to them.  Job training is also offered in the first few months of their arrival.  The goal is to have refugee families self-sufficient within three months upon their arrival.  It is not a welfare program and the refugees receive funds only temporarily.
  • The success of the transition program is well documented. Once refugees are financially self-sufficient, they receive little government assistance.  These are hard-working men and women who are anxious to start their new lives and provide for their families as independent individuals.
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