The Office of Refugee Resettlement’s (ORR) commitment to helping refugees and other vulnerable populations – including asylees, Cuban/Haitian entrants, unaccompanied refugee minors, victims of torture, unaccompanied alien children, and victims of human trafficking – remains as strong as ever. ORR understands that refugees have inherent capabilities and it strives to provide the benefits and services necessary to help refugees and other vulnerable populations become self-sufficient and integrated members of American society. In 2008, ORR served thousands of vulnerable people through its various grants and services, administered at the state government level and via non-profit organizations.
In FY 2008, 60,192 refugees resettled in the U.S., compared with just 48,281 refugees in FY 2007. They hailed from 75 countries and spoke over 46 different languages. An additional 19,117 Cuban and 253 Haitian nationals were admitted as entrants, as well as 1,015 Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant visa holders. Of the 79,562 total arrivals, refugees and entrants from Cuba comprised the largest admission
group (23,294), followed by arrivals from Iraq (13,755 refugees, as well as 622 SIVs), Burma (12,852), Thailand (5,279, most of whom were of Burmese origin), Iran (5,257), Bhutan (5,244), Burundi (2,875), and Somalia (2,510).
ORR provided up to eight months of cash and medical assistance for all eligible, newly arrived refugees during FY 2008, as well as funding for formula and discretionary social services to help refugee populations for up to five years after their arrival.
ORR is proud of its accomplishments in 2008. Several ORR programs are highlighted below:
ORR tracked state and county performance in FY 2008 for outcome measures related to refugee economic self-sufficiency. In FY 2008, the caseload of 76,032, which included employable adults resettled in previous years, increased by 10.2 percent over FY 2007 (68,999). Seventy-six percent of refugees who found employment were still employed 90 days later, a 3.3 percent increase from FY 2007. Sixty-three percent of full-time job placements offered health insurance, the same as FY 2007. The rate of job placements was 49 percent.
ORR’s Matching Grant Program (MG) is operated through nine national voluntary agencies, through a network of approximately 219 offices in 43 states. The objective of the program is to guide refugee households toward economic self-sufficiency within four to six months of eligibility, without accessing public cash assistance. In CY 2008, 29,643 refugees, Cuban/Haitian entrants, asylees and certified victims of human trafficking enrolled in the MG Program with $62,163,447 in funding from ORR, which includes a $2.16 million one-time supplemental award. MG service providers successfully employed 57 percent of all employable adults, resulting in a 62 percent self-sufficiency rate at day 120 and a 78 percent self-sufficiency rate at day 180. The MG program also reports an average hourly wage of $8.68, which is higher than the federal minimum wage of $6.55.
ORR’s Microenterprise Program helped recently arrived refugees who possessed few personal assets and who lacked credit history to start, expand, or sustain a small business. ORR funded 17 grantees nationwide for a total of $3,680,000 to help refugees start various businesses, including ethnic restaurants, child care, taxicab and limo services, and cleaning companies. In FY 2008, more than 3,400 refugees were served in the Microenterprise Program, which assisted 681 businesses. Of those, 261 were new business starts, 320 were expansions of existing businesses, and 100 represented strengthening or stabilization of existing businesses. The above businesses created 605 jobs that were taken by other low- income refugees.
Through its network of caretakers, ORR’s Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program continued to offer specialized foster care and case management, designed to meet the special needs of unaccompanied refugee, asylee, Cuban and Haitian entrant, and trafficked children, and to help them develop appropriate social skills to enter adulthood. In FY 2008, 700 youth were served in this program.
In FY 2008, ORR’s Unaccompanied Alien Children’s (UAC) Program continued to provide care and placement for unaccompanied alien children 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 Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Approximately 77 percent were male and 23 percent female; 10 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 apprehend large numbers of UACs. With an operating budget of $132.6 million in FY 2008, ORR funded approximately 1,600 beds and provided care for 7,211 children in its 40 plus shelter facilities in 10 states across the U.S.
ORR’s Services for Survivors of Torture Program continued to make great strides in providing and evaluating services for those who have suffered torture in their home countries. In FY 2008, 4,999 torture survivors were served. Torture survivors who received ORR services were from over 103 countries; 19 countries in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, 23 countries in Asia, 20 countries in Central and South America, and 41 countries from Africa.
In FY 2008, ORR issued 286 certification letters to adult victims of human trafficking and 31 eligibility letters to child victims of human trafficking, for a total of 317 victims. The 18 street outreach grantees identified approximately 1,660 potential victims of human trafficking, while four intermediary organization contractors made contact with nearly 70 victims or suspected victims by fostering connections among ORR’s Rescue and Restore Victims of Human Trafficking public awareness campaign, local awareness building, and service provision. In addition, 215 pre-certified victims, 270 certified victims, and 159 derivative family members also received services through a contract that makes financial support available to organizations throughout the country that provide services to victims.
In other areas of its operations, ORR:
- Continued its support of efforts that foster integration through refugee self-help. In 2008, ORR awarded 45 discretionary grants for a total of $7,150,850 to organizations in 21 states and the District of Columbia through its 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, and;
- 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 2009 goals included:
- Ensuring that all ORR programs provide for the safety and well being of children; Identifying and addressing changing needs of a diverse refugee population;
- Focusing on the importance of integration, self-sufficiency, and civic responsibility of all incoming populations;
- Continuing to improve the quality of care, family reunification, and foster care services provided to unaccompanied alien children and unaccompanied refugee minors;
- Continuing to expand efforts to increase the number of persons identified, certified, and served as victims of human trafficking, and;
- Continuing to develop relationships and foster greater collaboration with federal partners to enhance the availability of services.