By Nicholas Zifcak
Epoch Times Staff
Jan. 26, 2010
Grant money available for refugees doubled from $900 to $1800, the State Department announced on Monday. The money is paid to resettlement agencies who find housing and help newly arrived refugees acclimate to the United States.
The program began decades ago, but the amount of money has not increased over time to be of the same value it was when the program began. The purchasing power of the money had declined by 50 percent over the decades since the program started, according to the State Department.
A man who works directly with refugees in California had some questions. “They just let us know in advance that the increase was announced, but there are no details whatsoever so we stand by waiting,” said Loc Nam Nguyen, director of the Immigration and Refugee department at Catholic Charities of Los Angeles.
The Department of State’s Reception and Placement Program includes a one-time per person grant for the first weeks after arrival. Resettlement agencies help refugees find housing and make sure their needs are met.
The initial funds are meant to provide new arrivals with a roof over their head, a bed to sleep in, and other necessities. They also help refugees make the transition into American society. The newly arrived regugees are expected to become self supporting quickly.
Mr. Nguyen said his group's first task when a refugee arrives is to assist relatives to file an affidavit of relationship for the refugee.
“We in Los Angeles receive refugees who have anchor relatives and after the refugees' arrival we will help them to resettle.” They find a place for them to stay and assist them in finding employment, he said. They take responsibility for a newly arrived person for only 90 days, 30 days worth of financial assistance, and 90 days for core services, which include introduction to things they will need to know to get by in American society.
“The combined level of public and charitable resources available to the program is simply insufficient to do a quality job of initial resettlement,” according to a Department of State press release.
A large portion of the increase, at least $1,100, will go to direct support of refugees. Agencies assisting refugees will have some flexibility in allocating those funds and will also be able to spend up to $700 per refugee to cover management costs. The increase in funding is to lower refugee-to-staff ratios, and to support positions coordinating volunteers or develop private sources of funding for refugee reception and placement, or otherwise improve the quality of services refugees receive.
The Department of State called the program an “enduring and ongoing expression of our commitment to international humanitarian principles.”
In 2009 the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) resettled nearly 75,000 refugees in the United States.