Refugee Admissions

What is the US doing?

In September 2015, President Obama announced the US’s plan to accept at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in fiscal year 2016. In late August 2016, that goal was met. In FY 2017 the US will strive to admit 110,000 refugees. This represents a 57 percent increase over a two-year period from the 70,000 refugees admitted to the United States in 2015. In the current fiscal year, more refugees are likely to be resettled to the United States from the Near East/South Asia region than in any year on record, as well as more refugees from Africa than in any of the past dozen years.

The task of resettlement falls to the nine U.S. private agencies and one state agency that have cooperative agreements with the State Department to provide reception and placement services for refugees arriving in the United States. These VOLAGs (an abbreviation for “Voluntary Agency”) use funding from the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) along with self-generated resources to provide refugees with a range of services including sponsorship, initial housing, food and clothing, orientation and counseling. VOLAGs may also contract with the Office of Refugee Resettlement (part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) to provide job placement, English language training and other social services. The VOLAGs are:

  1. Church World Service (CWS)
  2. Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC)
  3. Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM)
  4. Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)
  5. International Rescue Committee (IRC)
  6. US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI)
  7. Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS)
  8. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)
  9. World Relief Corporation (WR)

The map below displays every site of the nine voluntary agencies that contract with the Department of State to resettle refugees in the United States.

What is the vetting process?

Refugees undergo more rigorous screening than anyone else allowed into the United States. If this all seems like a lot of information to process, we recommend this excellent video by Samantha Bee: