U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program reform urged

US Senator Richard Lugar, courtesy photo.

Press release from US Senator Dick Lugar:

Lugar Urges Reform of U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program to Less Burden Local Communities

U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Dick Lugar today released a report urging the Administration to better match federal resources with refugee admissions so that the costs associated with operating the U.S. resettlement program do not unfairly burden local communities.

The report, “Abandoned Upon Arrival: Implications for refugees and local communities burdened by a resettlement system that is not working,” is available at .

“This report highlights the significant challenges local communities in Indiana and across the country are confronting as a result of a U.S. resettlement program that is under-funded and over-stretched. While offering safe-haven to refugees who face persecution should remain a humanitarian imperative for our nation, we must acknowledge the significant costs associated with this activity and find an appropriate policy remedy at the federal level,” Lugar said. “I urge the Administrations to reform the U.S. resettlement program so that it continues to be perceived as a benefit to local communities, not a burden.”

“The Administration may determine that an increase in federal funding or decrease in refugee admissions is warranted. But the practice of passing the costs of resettling refugees on to local communities should not continue.”

The key recommendations contained in the report encourage the Administration to:

  • Enhance formal consultations with state and local leaders: Federal agencies should ensure that state and local officials/service providers in the resettlement site area are consulted regarding the absorptive capacity and needs of the community.
  • Improve access to English as second language (ESL) courses: The Administration should consider strategies, informed by best practices, for providing pre-arrival language instruction and enhanced access to longer-term ESL classes once resettled so that more refugees are placed on a path to proficiency and eventual self-sufficiency.
  • Invest in education: The Administration should formulate national strategies, consistent with best practices, for engaging schools that are tasked with meeting the unique psycho-social-cultural needs of refugee students, so as not to detract from the quality of instruction offered to the general student population.

On Tuesday, July 20, 2010, Senator Lugar officially requested the Government Accountability Office to also undertake a comprehensive review of the U.S. refugee resettlement system. A copy of the letter is available at .

City of Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry’s response

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