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ORR 2012 Holiday Card

Published: December 20, 2012

ORR 2012 Holiday Card

ORR 2012: The Year in Review

December 2012

Dear ORR friends and colleagues,

In the spirit of this holiday season, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) pauses to thank its exceptional partners on the ground—in state and local governments, voluntary agencies and ethnic community-based organizations, mainstream providers and private industry, and most importantly, the many volunteers—without whose hard work and dedication we would be unable to uphold the promises and ideals of the U.S. Resettlement Program.  We extend our sincere thanks for your good work, and applaud your unparalleled commitment to service.

We’d also like to take this opportunity to recognize the sense of promise inherent in refugee resettlement—from the basic humanitarian obligation of creating durable solutions to displacement, to new beginnings for a refugee family finally offered the chance of resettlement, to the immeasurable potential that refugee newcomers bring to communities across America.  It is this promise of a helping to create a brighter future for the most vulnerable among us that underscores not only the work that we do each day, but the reason we do it.  It is also the inspiration for ORR to develop more responsive programs, designed to meet the ever-changing needs of those we serve. 

To be honest, it has not always been easy—we have faced several challenges and uncertainties that have taxed our resources and personnel, and sometimes led us to question the very core of our beliefs—but I have been proud to witness what this tiny office has been able to accomplish despite these obstacles. 

Our work has truly touched thousands of lives—be it in reaction to disaster, such as the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti in January 2010, when ORR helped 28,000 U.S. citizens and their families repatriated from the danger zone, including nearly 700 Haitian orphans in the process of being adopted—or by design.  Last year, we created a new Home-Based Childcare Program to help previously marginalized refugee single mothers open their own businesses while they continue to care for their own children.  This year, I am pleased to say that we were able to double the program, and hopefully help double the number of women achieve self-sufficiency and viable means to support themselves and their families. 

We also supported the call for specialized services for especially vulnerable Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) refugees, and have seen great strides taken in raising the profile on this issue, and resources to ensure that appropriate resettlement services are available.  Most promisingly, the expanded Matching Grant program continues to outperform other employment programs, despite challenging economies and restrictive job markets; this is truly a testament to the hard work of our partners on the ground, for which we are grateful.

While there have been a number of outstanding achievements, I remain the proudest of the response by ORR’s Division of Children’s Services team, which oversaw the care and custody of more than 13,000 unaccompanied children last year—double the number from the previous year, and far more than we ever expected to receive.  With referrals as high as 1,600 in one month, and nearly 3,000 children in care at the height of the influx last spring, the DCS team and its partners ensured the protection and welfare of every last one of these exceptionally vulnerable children—including babies as young as five months old, children with critical medical needs, and others desperate to reunite with their families.  Across the broad spectrum of children we assisted, the one commonality aside from their tender age is that they had all undertaken a journey that many are not as fortunate to survive.

In the words of the late Robert F. Kennedy, “The purpose of life is to contribute in some way to making things better.”  On behalf of everyone at ORR, I extend our most sincere appreciation of your continued partnership and service, and our very best wishes for a peaceful, healthy, and prosperous New Year for all.  

Warmest regards,

Eskinder Negash
Director