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Annual ORR Report to Congress - 2005: I. Refugee Resettlement Program

Published: May 6, 2014

I. Refugee Resettlement Program

Admissions


To be admitted to the United States, an individual must be determined by an officer of the Citizenship and Immigration Services of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to meet the definition of refugee as defined in the Refugee Act of 1980. He or she also must be determined to be of special humanitarian concern to the U.S., be admissible under U.S. law, and not be firmly resettled in another country. Special humanitarian concern generally applies to refugees with relatives residing in the U.S., refugees whose status as refugees has occurred as a result of their association with the U.S., and refugees who have a close tie to the U.S. because of education here or employment by the U.S. government. In addition, the U.S. admits a share of refugees determined by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to be in need of resettlement in a third country outside the region from which they have fled.

The ceiling for the number of refugees to be admitted each year is determined by the President after consultation between the Executive Branch and the Congress. The President has authority to respond beyond the ceiling in cases of emergencies. The table at right shows the arrivals and ceilings from FY 1983 to FY 2005.

For FY 2005 the President determined the refugee ceiling at 70,000 refugees. During the fiscal year, 53,937 refugees including 75 Amerasians were admitted to the U.S. In addition, 15,061 Cuban and 8 Haitian entrants were admitted to the U.S.

Refugee and entrant arrivals from Cuba comprised the largest admission group (21,420), followed by refugee arrivals from the successor republics of the Soviet Union (11,272), Somalia (10,101), Laos (8,473), and Liberia (4,215). The Somalian and Laotian arrivals have proved of particular concern. This is the first survey to describe the impact of the Mushinguli and Bantu ethnic groups from Somalia. These refugee groups are predominantly rural and agricultural, without marketable skills in a modern society. ORR has identified them as needing much greater services in order to adapt to the American workplace and attain self-sufficiency.

Ceilings and Admissions (1983 to 2005)

Year Ceiling Admissions % of
Ceiling
2005 70,000 53,937 77.1
2004 70,000 52,858 75.6
2003 70,000 28,117 40.2
2002 70,000 27,070 38.7
2001 80,000 68,388 85.4
2000 90,000 72,519 80.5
1999 91,000 85,014 93.4

1998

83,000

76,750

92.5

1997

78,000

76,456

98.0

1996

90,000

75,755

84.1

1995

112,000

99,553

88.8

1994

121,000

112,065

92.6

1993

132,000

119,050

90.2

1992

142,000

131,749

92.8

1991

131,000

113,980

87.0

1990

125,000

122,935

98.3

1989

116,500

106,932

91.8

1988

87,500

76,930

87.8

1987
70,000

58,863

84.1

1986

67,000

60,559

90.4

1985

70,000

67,166

96.0

1984

72,000

70,604

98.1

1983

90,000

60,040

66.7

Source: Reallocated ceilings from Department of State (except for FY 1989 in which the reallocated ceiling was revised from 94,000 to 116,500). Admissions based on ORR data system, which commenced in 1983. Data on arrivals not available prior to the establishment of the refugee database in 1983. Does not include entrants.

In addition, the upsurge in Laotian arrivals marks the arriving of large numbers of Hmong tribesmen. As with the Mushinguli, the Hmong will need an intensive level of services for a prolonged period of time. These refugees have been confined for long periods in refugee camps where schooling and job training were spotty, with few refugees attaining even a degree from a primary school. Not surprisingly, their lack of marketable skills has translated into difficulty in finding employment and attaining self-sufficiency. The educational background, labor force participation, and welfare utilization of the Hmong arrivals will be dealt with in greater detail in the section entitled “Economic Adjustment” beginning on page 56.

Comparing the countries of origin of this year’s arrivals with those of a decade earlier illustrates the wide swings and abrupt reversals in the refugee program. In FY 1995, the arrivals from Cuba reached 37,037 more than 15,000 higher than this year. The former republics of the U.S.S.R. reached 35,509, more than triple this year’s total (11,272), followed by Vietnam with 33,198 (only 2,084 this year), and the republics of the former Yugoslavia with 9,872 (only 2,084 this year). Laos was ranked fourth in FY 1995 (3,682) and fourth this year (8,473); however, this masks the true inconsistency in admissions. As recently as FY 2002, admissions from Laos numbered as few as 18.

Yugoslavia has also exhibited great variability. It sent only six refugees to the U.S. in FY 1990, but reached as high as 38,620 in FY 1999 before sinking to 143 this year. Somali admissions reveal a similar pattern. In FY 1994, 3,508 Somalis fled to the U.S. Admissions reached 6,021 in FY 2000 before plunging to 242 in FY 2002 and then swelling to 10,101 this year.

Florida received the largest number of arrivals (18,181), almost doubling its arrivals compared with FY 2003 (10,275). Arrivals to California reached 7,540, followed by Minnesota (6,357), Texas (3,469), and Washington (3,469). Unlike countries of origin, the States of initial resettlement vary little from year to year. The only notable difference from a decade earlier is Florida’s rise to the top spot from only 4,850 in FY 1995—due entirely to a sustained increase in entrants.

Amerasians

The admission numbers for refugees included in this chapter include individuals admitted under the Amerasian Homecoming Act of 1988. Amerasians are children born in Vietnam to Vietnamese mothers and American fathers and are admitted as immigrants, rather than refugees; however, these youths and their immediate relatives are entitled to the same ORR-funded services and benefits. Since FY 1988, 75,895 Vietnamese have been admitted to the U.S. under this provision. In the peak year for this population (1992), over 17,000 youths and family members arrived in the U.S. Last year they numbered only 75.

The Population Profile section and associated tables in Appendix A of this report provide refugee, Amerasian, and entrant arrival numbers by country of origin and State of initial resettlement for the period FY 1983 through FY 2005.

Cuban and Haitian Entrants

Congress created the Cuban/Haitian Entrant Program under Title V of the Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980. The law provides for a program of reimbursement to participating States for cash and medical assistance to Cuban and Haitian entrants under the same conditions and to the same extent as such assistance and services for refugees under the refugee program. The first recipients of the new program were the approximately 125,000 Cubans who fled the Castro regime in the Mariel boatlift of 1980.

By law, an entrant—for the purposes of ORR-funded benefits—is a Cuban or Haitian national who is (a) paroled into the U.S., (b) subject to exclusion or deportation proceedings, or (c) an applicant for asylum.

Under the terms of a bilateral agreement between the U.S. and Cuba, up to 20,000 Cuban immigrants are allowed to enter the U.S. directly from Cuba annually. These individuals are known as Havana Parolees and are eligible for ORR-funded benefits and services in States that have a Cuban/Haitian Entrant Program.

In FY 2005, 15,061 Cuban and 8 Haitian entrants arrived in the U.S., a sharp decrease from the number of entrants that arrived the year before (21,450). Eighty-eight percent initially resettled in Florida. The table on the next page describes the flow of entrants since FY 1991.

Entrant Arrivals, FY 1991 to FY 2005

YEAR Cuba Haiti Total
2005 15,061 8 15,069
2004 21,134 316 21,450
2003 10,129 931 11,060
2002 16,015 719 16,734
2001 14,499 1,451 15,950
2000
17,871
1,570
19,441

1999

20,728

1,270

21,998

1998

13,492

590

14,082

1997

5,284

42

5,326

1996

16,985

346

17,331

1995

31,195

1,035

32,23 0

1994

12,785

1,579

14,364

1993

3,452

700

4,152

1992

2,539

10,385

12,924

1991

696

395

1,091

Does not include Cuban and Haitian arrivals with refugee status.

Asylees

On June 15, 2000, ORR published State Letter 00-12, which revised its policy on program eligibility for persons granted asylum. Section 412(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act provides a refugee with benefits beginning with the first month in which the refugee has entered the U.S. In the past, an asylee’s arrival date was considered his entry date for the purposes of program eligibility. The months of eligibility for assistance (currently eight) would then begin on this date. This date could precede by months or even years the date that the individual was granted asylum. Because of the time it normally takes for an individual to apply for asylum and to proceed through the immigration process, this interpretation of “entry” prohibited even individuals who applied for asylum immediately upon arrival from accessing refugee cash assistance and refugee medical assistance.

In 1996, Congress revised Federal welfare programs to use date of admission, rather than date of physical entry, as the important issue in determining an alien’s legal status. Accordingly, ORR now uses the date that asylum is granted as the initial date of eligibility for ORR-funded services and benefits. In the past year, the U.S. government granted asylum to 23,682 persons.

Reception and Placement

Most of the persons eligible for ORR’s refugee program benefits and services are refugees resettled through the Department of State’s refugee allocation system under the annual ceiling for refugee admissions. Upon arrival, refugees are provided initial services through a program of grants, called reception and placement cooperative agreements, made by the Department of State to qualifying agencies. In FY 2005, the following agencies participated: Church World Service, Episcopal Migration Ministries, Ethiopian Community Development Council, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, Iowa Refugee Service Center, International Rescue Committee, Immigration and Refugee Services of America, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and World Relief.

These grantee agencies are responsible for providing initial “nesting” services covering basic food, clothing, shelter, orientation, and referral for the first 30 days. In FY 2005, the agencies received a per capita amount of $800 from the State Department for this purpose. After this period, refugees who still need assistance are eligible for cash and medical benefits provided under ORR’s program of domestic assistance. For more information on these agencies and their activities, see Appendix C.

ORR Assistance and Services

All persons admitted as refugees or granted asylum while in the U.S. are eligible for refugee benefits described in this report. Certain other persons admitted to the U.S. under other immigration categories are also eligible for refugee benefits. Amerasians from Vietnam and their accompanying family members, though admitted to the U.S. as immigrants, are entitled to the same social services and assistance benefits as refugees. Certain nationals of Cuba and Haiti, such as public interest parolees and asylum applicants, may also receive benefits in the same manner and to the same extent as refugees if they reside in a State with an approved Cuban/Haitian Entrant Program. In addition, certain persons deemed to be victims of a severe form of trafficking, though not legally admitted as refugees, are eligible for ORR-funded benefits to the same extent as refugees.

Domestic Resettlement Program

In FY 2005, the refugee and entrant assistance program was funded under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005 (P.L. 108-199). In addition to this appropriation of $430.9 million, Congress gave ORR permission to spend prior year unexpended funds. Congress appropriated an additional $53.8 million for the unaccompanied alien children (UAC) program which was transferred from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to ORR in March of FY 2003. The activities and benefits of this program are explained more fully beginning on page 48. The inclusion of the UAC appropriation brought the total ORR appropriation to $484.7 million. The appropriation table on page 9 explains the FY 2005 appropriations by line-item.

The domestic refugee program consists of four separate resettlement approaches: (1) the State-administered program, (2) the Public/Private Partnership program, (3) the Wilson/Fish program, and (4) the Matching Grant program..

State Administered Program

Federal resettlement assistance to refugees is provided primarily through the State administered refugee resettlement program. States provide transitional cash and medical assistance and social services, as well as maintain legal responsibility for the care of unaccompanied refugee children.

  • Cash and Medical Assistance

Refugees generally enter the U.S. without income or assets with which to support themselves during their first few months. Families with children under 18 are eligible for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Refugees who are aged, blind, or disabled may receive assistance from the Federally administered Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. Refugees eligible for these programs may be enrolled in the Medicaid program which provides medical assistance to low-income individuals and families.

Refugees who meet the income and resource eligibility standards of these two cash assistance programs, but are not otherwise eligible—such as single individuals, childless couples, and two-parent families in certain States with restrictive TANF programs—may receive benefits under the special Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) and Refugee Medical Assistance (RMA) programs. Eligibility for these special programs is restricted to the first eight months in the U.S. except for asylees, for whom the eligibility period begins with the month that asylum is granted. Due to funding constraints, ORR does not reimburse States for their costs of the TANF, SSI, and Medicaid programs.

In FY 2005, ORR obligated $172.5 million to reimburse States for their full costs for the RCA and RMA programs and associated State administrative costs. Cash and medical assistance allocations are presented in the table on pages 10 and 11.

  • Social Services

ORR provides funding for a broad range of social services to refugees, both through States and through direct service grants. With these funds, States provide services to help refugees obtain employment and achieve economic self-sufficiency and social adjustment as quickly as possible. After deducting funds used to support programs of special interest to Congress, ORR, as in previous fiscal years, allocated 85 percent of the remaining social service funds on a formula basis.

Program obligations varied according to each State’s proportion of total refugee and entrant arrivals during the previous three fiscal years. States with small refugee populations received a minimum of $75,000 in social service funds. Of total social service funds, ORR obligated $79.1 million to States under the State-administered formula program. For both programs, social services are provided only to refugees who have resided in the U.S. for fewer than 60 months.

In addition to these funds, ORR obligated social service funds to a variety of discretionary programs. A discussion of these discretionary awards may be found beginning on page 26.

  • Targeted Assistance

The targeted assistance program funds employment and other services for refugees and entrants who reside in high need areas. These areas are defined as counties with unusually large refugee and entrant populations, high refugee or entrant concentrations in relation to the overall population, or high use of public assistance. Such counties need supplementation of other available service resources to help the local refugee or entrant population obtain employment with less than one year’s participation in the program.

In FY 2005, ORR obligated $49.1 million for targeted assistance activities for refugees and entrants. Of this, $44.2 million was awarded by formula to 27 States on behalf of the 48 counties eligible for targeted assistance grants. Funds not allocated in the formula program were reserved for communities in the form of discretionary grants through the Targeted Assistance discretionary program. A discussion of these discretionary awards may be found beginning on page 26. The accompanying table presents the amount of funds awarded to individual counties. The amounts awarded to States under the allocation formula are provided in the table on pages 10 and 11.

  • Unaccompanied Minors

ORR continued its support of care for unaccompanied refugee minors in the U.S. These children, who are identified in countries of first asylum as requiring foster care upon their arrival in this country, are sponsored through two national voluntary agencies—the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS)—and placed in States with licensed child welfare programs operated by local affiliated Catholic Charities and Lutheran Social Services agencies.

Targeted Assistance by County, FY 2005

Maricopa AZ

$1,213,074

Los Angeles CA

1,970,558

Sacramento CA

1,504,982

San Diego CA

859,783

Santa Clara CA

514,710

Denver CO

354,739

Broward FL 1,030,870
Collier FL 262,591
Dade FL 11,753,751
Duval FL

506,333

Hillsborough FL 763,124
Orange FL 501,822
Palm Beach FL

740,892

DeKalb GA 977,868
Fulton GA 335,729
Ada ID

274,351

Cook/Kane IL

1,111,902

Polk IA 374,393
Jefferson KY 662,437
Baltimore MD

345,556

Montg./Pr. Georges MD 575,766
Hampden MA

290,461

Suffolk MA 523,248
Ingham MI 375,360
Kent MI 403,391
Hennepin/Ramsey MN

1,958,959

St. Louis MO 815,320
Clark NV 436,255
Erie NY

439,477

Monroe NY

316,236

New York NY

2,207,695

Oneida NY 352,161
Onodaga NY 458,164
Guilford NC 306,409
Mecklenberg NC 309,954
Cass ND 197,024
Franklin OH

418,051

Multnomah OR 1,355,483
Philadelphia PA 480,557
Minnehaha SD

203,306

Davidson TN

336,535

Dallas/Tarrant TX

1,028,937

Harris TX 1,116,574
Davis/Salt Lake UT

574,477

Fairfax VA

569,806

Richmond VA

245,675

King/Snohomish WA 1,521,576
Spokane WA

296,744

Total  

$44,173,066

Each refugee minor in the care of this program is eligible for the same range of child welfare benefits as non‑refugee children. Where possible, the child is placed with an affiliated agency of USCCB and LIRS in an area with nearby families of the same ethnic background. Depending on their individual needs, the minors are placed in home foster care, group care, independent living, or residential treatment. Foster parents must be licensed by their State or county child welfare provider and receive on-going training in child welfare matters. Foster parents come from a diversity of ethnic and linguistic backgrounds, and they receive special training on the adjustment needs of refugee youth. ORR reimburses costs incurred on behalf of each child until the month after his eighteenth birthday or such higher age as is permitted under the State’s Plan under title IV‑B of the Social Security Act. Allowable services through the URM program include:

  • Foster care maintenance payments

  • Medical care and mental health services

  • Intensive case management by social workers

  • Independent living skills training (consumer skills, housing, food preparation, social/legal systems, transportation, education, community resources, health sexuality)

  • Education/ESL

  • Tutoring/mentoring

  • Jobs skills training and career/college counseling

  • On-going family tracing, where possible

  • Cultural activities/recreation

  • Special education services, where needed

Since January 1979, 12,339 children have entered the program through local affiliates in 41 States. Of these, 1,405 subsequently were reunited with family and 10,434 reached the age of emancipation.

FY 2001 saw the revival of the program. More than 3,800 Sudanese youths from the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya arrived in the U.S. to begin a new life. These youths—dubbed the Lost Boys of Sudan due to their mass exodus from the war in Sudan—ranged in ages from 11 to 27. Almost 500 of these youth had not attained the age of 18 and were placed in the unaccompanied minor program.

In FY 2005, 157 youths entered the program. By the end of the year, 627 youths remained in care, 451 males and 176 females. The majority of the youths arrived from the following countries of origin:

Afghanistan

29

China

13

Congo

17

Haiti

50

Honduras

43

Liberia

67

Sierra Leone

12

Somalia

18

Sudan

290

Vietnam

14

Other Countries

74

Total in Care

627

These youths resided in the following States:

Arizona

24

California

5

District of Columbia

11

Florida

9

Massachusetts

50

Michigan

186

Minnesota

2

Mississippi

55

New York

56

North Dakota

36

Pennsylvania

62

South Dakota

6

Texas

17

Utah

3

Virginia

60

Washington

45

Total

627

ORR Appropriation
FY 2005

Transitional and Medical Services $ 204,993,000
Social Services $ 152,243,000
Preventive Health $ 4,796,000
Targeted Assistance $ 49,081,000
Victims of Torture $9,915,000
Victims of Trafficking $9,915,000
Total Refugee Appropriation $ 430,943,000

Unaccompanied Alien Children Program

$ 53,771,000
Total ORR Appropriation $ 484,714,000

New budget authority only.Does not include prior year funds available for FY 2005 authorization

State
CMA
Social
Services
Targeted
Assistance
Total
-
93,557
 
93,557
Alaska d/
-
86,582
 
 
Arizona
5,777,100
1,797,518
$1,213,074
8,787,692
Arkansas
62,000
76,945
 
138,945
California e/
20,863,000
7,570,827
4,850,033
33,283,860
Colorado f/
1,962,000
777,106
354,739
3,093,845
Connecticut
661,000
521,490
 
1,182,490
Delaware
70,000
76,945
 
146,945
Dist.Columbia
1,457,000
242,486
 
1,699,486
Florida
41,029,542
27,373,076
15,559,383
83,962,001
Georgia
3,430,000
1,948,098
1,313,597
6,691,695
Hawaii
65,000
76,945
 
141,945
Idaho d/
373,000
342,189
274,351
989,540
Illinois
3,672,000
1,399,119
1,111,902
6,183,021
Indiana
765,000
324,957
 
1,089,957
Iowa
701,000
460,355
374,393
1,535,748
Kansas
390,000
112,833
 
502,833
Kentucky d/
-
1,075,804
662,437
1,738,241
Louisiana
530,000
214,586
 
744,586
Maine
357,000
435,327
 
792,327
Maryland
6,532,000
1,483,640
921,322
8,936,962
Massachusetts f/
3,870,000
1,418,403
813,709
6,102,112
Michigan
6,207,000
1,172,223
778,751
8,157,974
Minnesota
10,040,000
3,987,283
1,958,959
15,986,242
Mississippi
1,123,000
76,945
 
1,199,945
Missouri
1,014,000
981,435
815,320
2,810,755
Montana
63,000
76,945
 
139,945
Nebraska
619,000
336,035
 
955,035
Nevada d/
-
621,603
436,255
1,057,858
New Hampshire
539,000
395,118
 
934,118
New Jersey
2,269,000
837,010
 
3,106,010
New Mexico
978,000
176,018
 
1,154,018
New York
8,286,000
3,915,891
3,773,733
15,975,624
North Carolina
1,682,000
1,464,767
616,363
3,763,130
North Dakota f/
824,000
189,968
197,024
1,210,992
Ohio
4,502,000
2,037,543
418,051
6,957,594
Oklahoma
454,000
109,139
 
563,139
Oregon
3,631,205
1,316,648
1,355,483
6,303,336
Pennsylvania
4,343,000
1,958,355
480,557
6,781,912
Rhode Island
302,000
226,075
 
528,075
South Carolina
235,000
138,270
 
373,270
South Dakota d/
205,000
337,676
203,306
745,982
Tennessee
758,000
628,168
336,535
1,722,703
Texas
12,351,500
3,246,693
2,145,511
17,743,704
Utah
1,835,000
585,496
574,477
2,994,973
Vermont f/
215,000
167,402
 
382,402
Virginia
4,557,000
1,430,301
815,481
6,802,782
Washington
7,810,000
3,843,679
1,818,320
13,471,999
West Virginia
6,000
76,945
 
82,945
Wisconsin
5,107,930
894,041
 
6,001,971
Total
$172,523,277
$79,136,460
$44,173,066
$295,746,221

a/ Cash/Medical/Administrative, including Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA), Refugee Medical Assistance (RMA), aid to unaccompanied minors, and State administrative expenses. Includes prior year surplus funds as well as FY 2005 appropriated funds.
b/ Includes funds for privately administered Wilson/Fish programs.
c/ Includes funds for privately administered Wilson/Fish programs.
d/ A private non-profit agency operates a State-wide Wilson/Fish project.
e/ A private non-profit agency operates a Wilson/Fish program in the County of San Diego.
f/ The State refugee agency operates a State-wide Wilson/Fish project.

Last Reviewed: June 24, 2019