Annual ORR Reports to Congress - 2004: Appendix B: Federal Agency Reports
Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
The United States leads the world in providing assistance to refugee and victims of conflict. The U.S. resettles about one-half of the refugees referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for resettlement each year. The Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) has primary responsibility for formulating U.S. policies on these issues and for administering U.S. refugee assistance and admissions programs overseas.
Of the 52,868 refugees admitted to the U.S. in FY 2004, the largest number came from Africa (29,125) and the former Soviet Union (8,765). As in previous years, the President authorized in-country processing in the former Soviet Union, Vietnam, and Cuba for persons who would qualify as refugees if they lived outside their country of origin. In general, the U.S. offers resettlement to refugees outside their countries of origin who are deemed to be of “special humanitarian concern” to the U.S. During FY 2004, a number of particularly vulnerable groups, including persecuted religious and ethnic minorities, were determined to be a special concern to the U.S. and processed
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) administers the immigration and naturalization laws relating to the interview, determination, admission and naturalization of refugees and asylees. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within the DHS is responsible for the adjudication of refugee applications overseas, and USCIS officers make the final determination regarding an applicant’s eligibility for refugee resettlement in the United States. In FY 2004, to supplement refugee adjudicators stationed permanently abroad, USCIS deployed more than 140 asylum and adjudications officers on temporary overseas assignments to conduct more than 90,000 refugee classification interviews in 50 different countries.
DHS is also responsible for the inspection and admission of approved refugees upon arrival in the United States and processes subsequent applications for refugees including adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident and naturalization. In FY 2004, 52,868 refugees from more than 60 nations were admitted to the United States, an 86 percent increase over last year’s admissions.
In addition to processing refugees overseas, USCIS also adjudicates asylum applications filed by asylum seekers who are already present in the United States. In FY 2004, USCIS Asylum Officers completed 108,951 cases, approving 10,278. The countries with the greatest number of asylum approvals were Colombia, Haiti, China, and Ethiopia.
Information about USCIS and the processing of refugee and asylum cases can be found on the internet at http://www.uscis.gov.
In FY 2004, the preventive health services expansion that began in 1999 continued with an extensive needs assessment led by the Office of Global Health Affairs of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. As a result, State preventive health programs today provide health education, health promotion, and referral and follow-up services to newly arriving refugees and asylees in addition to traditional health assessments.
Health assessments conducted in the U.S. are voluntary. These health assessments of refugees serve important public and personal health purposes. For example, they help to identify individuals who have been exposed to TB and treat them, assuring that they will not develop infectious TB at some later time. Additionally, assessments identify Hepatitis B and other sexually transmitted diseases, as well as other infectious diseases that were not identified before the refugees’ arrival to the U.S. OGHA is increasing our interactions with U.S. agencies responsible for overseeing health in refugee camps to promote healthy resettlement in the U.S. OGHA is also working collaboratively with the States to address emerging health concerns, such as Hepatitis A and elevated lead levels. Health assessments include needed immunizations for children and adults.
OGHA has also partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Epidemiology Division to conduct an epidemiological assessment of health conditions amongst recently resettled Sudanese youth. Additionally, many refugees have health conditions, which do not prevent them from entering the U.S., and are not of public health concern, but which affect their ability to become self-sufficient once resettled. ORR-funded health assessments identify these personal needs and assure that refugees are appropriately cared for and treated.
Health assessments provided to asylees are the only public health screening these individuals receive until they adjust status to permanent residents. Adjustment of status occurs at least one year after they are granted asylum.
Thirty-seven States in FY 2004 applied for and received ORR Preventive Health Grants. Nearly 47,902 refugees, asylees, Cuban parolees, and Haitian entrants received health assessments in FY 2004.