True to the mission of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), fiscal year 2007 proved to be another successful year of providing some of the most vulnerable populations with critical resources to assist them in becoming integrated members of American society. In this effort, ORR funded a network of national and local service providers that assist refugees, asylees, Cuban/Haitian entrants, victims of torture, unaccompanied alien children, and victims of human trafficking. Throughout the fiscal year, ORR worked in close cooperation with national voluntary agencies (VOLAGs) and refugee Mutual Assistant Associations (MAAs) as well as Federal, State, and local partners. ORR’s goal was to ensure that incoming refugees had the needed services and assistance to help them attain economic self- sufficiency as early as possible after their arrival.
In FY 2007, Refugee admissions totaled 48,281, compared with 41,279 in FY 2006. An additional 17,294 Cuban and 147 Haitian entrants were admitted, for a total of 65,722. The largest admission groups in FY 2007 included refugees and entrants from Cuba, Burma, Somalia, Iran, successor republics of the Soviet Union, and Burundi.
ORR provided eight months of cash and medical assistance for newly arrived refugees during FY 2007. ORR also provided funding for formula and discretionary social services to serve refugees up to five years after their arrival.
Major accomplishments during FY 2007 included the following:
In FY 2007, ORR’s Unaccompanied Alien Children’s Program continued to provide care and placement for unaccompanied alien children (UACs) who left their home countries to rejoin family already in the U.S., to escape abusive family relationships in their home country, or to find work to support their families in their home country. Most of the children in ORR’s custody and care were from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, and approximately 76 percent were male and 24 percent female; 15 percent were below the age of 14. The majority of children were cared for through a network of ORR-funded facilities, most of which are located close to areas where immigration officials apprehended large numbers of UACs. With an operating budget of $95 million in 2007, ORR funded approximately 1,700 beds and placed 8,212 children in its various shelter facilities, which number more than 40 in 10 states.
ORR’s Anti-Trafficking in Persons Program (ATIP) continued to make strides in helping to identify, certify, and provide services for victims of human trafficking. In 2007, ORR issued 270 certification letters to adult victims of trafficking and 33 eligibility letters to minors, for a total of 303. The 18 street outreach grantees identified approximately 1,500 potential victims of human trafficking, while four “intermediary” organization contractors identified approximately 200 potential victims in their work fostering connections between ORR’s Rescue and Restore Victims of Human Trafficking public awareness campaign and local awareness building and service provision. Two hundred and seven pre-certified and 457 certified victims received services through a per capita contract that makes financial support available to organizations throughout the country that provide services to victims. ORR/ATIP launched four new Rescue and Restore coalitions around the country and provided targeted training and technical assistance to its new coalitions and all grantees. ORR/ATIP also created an “in-reach” campaign to educate and coordinate with other HHS programs in the pursuit of easier access to victim services, and renamed its
24/7 hotline the National Human Trafficking Resource Center in order to reflect increased response capabilities.
ORR tracked State and county performance in FY 2007 for outcome measures related to refugee economic self-sufficiency. In FY 2007, the caseload (68,999) increased by two percent over FY 2006 (67,893). Seventy-three percent of refugees who found employment were still employed 90 days later, a one percent increase from FY 2006. Sixty-three percent of full-time job placements offered health insurance, also a one percent increase from FY 2006. The rate of job placements was 53 percent.
In 2007, ORR continued to provide the Points of Wellness Toolkit and training workshops to help State and local governments, as well as community based organizations develop and implement refugee health promotion and disease prevention activities and programs. Additionally, ORR led a national effort to promote and enhance the relationship of refugee health and access to health and mental health services, with successful integration into American society. Under interagency agreements with the HHS’ Office of Global Health Affairs and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, ORR convened the Refugee Medical Screening Protocol Work Group in partnership with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to update the medical screening services for refugees when they are admitted into the U.S.
The partnerships between ORR and other federal agencies continued to flourish in FY 2007. The Rural Initiative/Refugee Agricultural Partnership Program (RAPP) with the Department of Agriculture partnered refugees with local farmers, growers, and distributors. In addition to ORR funding, the partnership has resulted in additional public (USDA) and private support of $2.5 million. ORR also worked with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to find innovative ways to address housing issues for refugees. Recently, ORR collaborated with the U.S. Department of Labor/Employment & Training Administration (ETA) to develop strategies to enable refugee service providers to become partners with local One-Stop career centers, and to enhance information sharing between ORR and ETA at the federal, state and local levels.
In other areas of its operations, ORR:
- Continued its support of efforts that foster integration through refugee self-help. In 2007, ORR awarded 51 discretionary grants for a total of $8.5 million to organizations in 21 states and the District of Columbia through Ethnic Community Self Help Program.
- Awarded $3.8 million in Healthy Marriage grants to 10 grantees to promote stable marriages and family life, and to prevent family conflict and divorce.
- Supported 12 Wilson/Fish projects throughout 11 States and one county.
- Provided $19 million to localities most heavily impacted by Cuban and Haitian entrants and refugees, particularly where their arrival numbers in recent years have increased.
ORR’s FY 2008 goals include:
- Ensuring that all ORR programs provide for the safety and well being of children;
- Continuing to improve the quality of care, family reunification, and foster care services provided to unaccompanied alien children and unaccompanied refugee minors;
- Continue expanding efforts to increase the number of persons identified, certified, and served as victims of trafficking;
- Identifying and addressing changing needs of a diverse refugee population;
- Focusing on the importance of integration, self-sufficiency, and civic responsibility of incoming populations, and;
- Continue developing relationships and fostering greater collaboration with Federal partners to enhance the availability of services.