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ORR Year in Review - 2012

Published: December 20, 2012

Office of Refugee Resettlement
The Year in Review - 2012

Dear colleagues and friends,

Two thousand twelve was a very busy and productive year for the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), with an astonishing level of accomplishment made possible through the exceptional collaboration of agencies and volunteers who make the United States Refugee Program a true public-private partnership.  On behalf of ORR and the people it serves, we thank you for your support and look forward to continuing this good work and collaboration in 2013.   

While we got off to a slow start with overseas refugee arrivals last year due to changes in clearance procedures for refugees, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and its partners ultimately served more than 115,000 new arrivals in Fiscal Year 2012, including over 62,000 refugees and Special Immigrant Visa holders, more than 40,000 asylees and Cuban/Haitian Entrants and Parolees; nearly 500 Victims of Trafficking, and an unanticipated doubling of the number of Unaccompanied Alien Children over last year. 

The United States welcomed refugees from more than 80 countries across the globe this past year. The highest number of overseas arrivals mirrored those of the past few years, with Bhutanese (15,000) and Burmese (14,000) comprising more than half of all arrivals, followed by refugees from Cuba, Iraq, and Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Eritrea, Sudan and Ethiopia rounding out the top ten arrival groups.  

Highlights of ORR’s activities and achievements for Fiscal Year 2012 are included here; for additional information about these and other issues, please visit the ORR website, or contact ORR directly.  


Eskinder Negash


Throughout 2012, ORR Director Eskinder Negash and Deputy Director Ken Tota prioritized meetings and consultations with stakeholders across the country.  Whether through regular conference calls with Ethnic Community Based Organizations, State Refugee Coordinators and Health Coordinators, or quarterly joint placement meetings with the State Department’s Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM), ORR leadership kept up to date with changes in state programs, successes achieved by ORR’s partners, and other developments affecting the resettlement of refugees in our communities.  They also traveled to a number of states this year to view program operations on the ground, including Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, New York, Texas, and Utah.  Director Negash also gave a presentation on local integration of refugees during the Working Group on Resettlement meetings held in Melbourne, Australia this year, the precursor to the Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement sponsored by UNHCR each July.  Several follow up meetings on integration have resulted from this presentation, with foreign delegations eager to explore how they can adapt U.S. methods to their own communities back home.

One of the most visible changes to ORR was in the ACF-led website redesign, which was fully launched in September 2012 at www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/.  The new website presents a more vibrant, image-driven interface, from program Success Stories to individual Refugee Voices, and easy links to arrival data, policy documents, and more.  The site continues to evolve, so be sure to check back regularly and let us know what else you’d like to see!

More than 800 participants attended the 2012 ORR National Consultation in September, which brought together service providers, state and federal partners, and a wide variety of stakeholders.  ORR was pleased to include the participation of HHS Deputy Secretary Bill Corr; State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) Assistant Secretary Anne Richard; the White House Domestic Policy Council's Senior Policy Advisor for Immigration, Felicia Escobar; Dr. Gabriela Lemus, Special Advisor to the Secretary of Labor, and Olympic athlete and former refugee from South Sudan, Guor Marial, who delivered the keynote address.  ORR supported 18 refugees to attend and share their perspectives with the audience; the White House Domestic Policy Council also featured a story about the Consultation on its website.

Also in 2012, ORR finalized its reorganization of the office.  Under the reorganization, the ORR organizational components are: (I) the Office of the Director, (2) the Division of Refugee Assistance, (3) the Division of Refugee Services, (4) the Division of Refugee Health, (5) the Division of Children's Services, and (6) the Division of Anti-Trafficking in Persons.  This reorganization is designed to support the larger program structure, and included the addition of an Associate Deputy Director to overseas the Children’s and ATIP programs.  The new Division of Refugee Health will focus on coordinating with federal partners, state refugee coordinators and the Association of Refugee Health Coordinators to advance ORR's health initiatives, including preparing the refugee resettlement network for full implementation of the Affordable Care Act. 

ORR and State Department/PRM staff engaged stakeholders in several quarterly placement meetings during the year. In addition, ORR provided PRM with significant data to facilitate and support their FY 2013 national annual consolidated placement decision. The most recent quarterly meeting was conducted on November 29 at the PRM Admissions Workshop in Washington, D. C., where PRM and ORR updated stakeholders on new developments and steered the discussion toward community engagement. This meeting, the 8th quarterly placement meeting in the series, was largely a follow-up to the quarterly placement meeting that was held in September 2012 during the ORR National Consultation.

In 2012, ORR issued two State Letters (#12-13 and #12-09) with revised cash and medical assistance guidelines, outlining changes and clarifications related to the administration and coordination of refugee cash and medical assistance (CMA), and updated Medical Screening Guidelines, including allowable medical screening services and further guidance related to reimbursement categories and limitations.  These revised medical screening guidelines were developed in great part by ORR’s new Medical Officer Dr. Curi Kim, detailed from the CDC to work with ORR for two years.  Dr. Kim is an integral part of the Refugee Health Team and new division, helping ORR and its partners navigate the transition to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Efforts to expand ORR’s federal partnerships have been fruitful in 2012, with several positive meetings with key representatives from the Departments of Labor, Education, and Justice, to name a few.  ORR is working with the Department of Education’s Office of Vocational and Adult Education to discuss public-private partnerships to support immigrant integration, focusing on ways to increase access to high-quality, technology-enabled ESL and other innovations, and the promotion of place-based two-way integration models that support and scale effective services and outcomes for immigrant communities.  Collaboration with the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section (HRSP) of the Department of Justice (DOJ) has been equally productive, helping to raise awareness of HRSP activities which include the investigation and prosecution of individuals who manage to enter the U.S. after committing atrocities overseas.  The HRSP was one of the workshop presenters in the ORR 2012 National Consultation, and has been meeting with refugee service providers and stakeholders in visits around the country.  

Anti-Trafficking in Persons

The Anti-Trafficking in Persons (ATIP) Division supports the Rescue & Restore Campaign to raise awareness of the fight against human trafficking.  One of ATIP’s key partners is the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC), which operates a national, toll-free hotline that works to protect victims of human trafficking in the U.S. by providing callers with a range of comprehensive services including: crisis intervention, tip reporting, comprehensive anti-trafficking resources, and technical assistance for the anti-trafficking field and those who wish to get involved.   In 2012, the ORR/ATIP-funded National Human Trafficking Resource Center received nearly 20,000 phone calls, while ATIP's partners on the ground assisted a total 774 clients during the first (fiscal) year of the new trafficking victim assistance grants.  HHS also distributed free of charge approximately 700,000 pieces of original, branded public awareness materials publicizing the NHTRC in 2012.

ATIP is also the sole federal agency authorized to certify adult foreign victims of human trafficking, and provide eligibility letters to minor foreign victims of human trafficking.  In 2012, ORR issued 388 Certification Letters and 90 Eligibility Letters, which granted recipients access to benefits and services to the same extent as refugees.

ATIP Child Protection Specialists traveled to several Unaccompanied Alien Children’s (UAC) program locations in Arizona, Texas, California, New York, Virginia and several other states in 2012, to meet with the local Federal Field Specialists and to provide the ATIP training, “Responding to Foreign Child Victims of Trafficking,” to staff at the ORR partner facilities, also meeting with law enforcement, child welfare agencies and other local stakeholders. 

ORR Director Eskinder Negash provided remarks on the topic of “Human Trafficking: Global Threat to Fundamental Human Rights” at the 2012 Atlanta Global Peace Convention in November, which featured approximately 800 participants from around the globe discussing issues concerning leadership, strengthening families, and economic opportunity.  

The division also conducted a number of In-Reach Campaign events, including a presentation by the CDC and Indian Health Service detailing the integration of anti-trafficking in persons training into their work, and two screenings of the documentary Not My Life for ACF and HHS employees.  The team also hosted a series of webinars throughout the year, with nearly 500 viewers participating.  Topics included “Returning Home, Reintegration and Family Reunification for Foreign Human Trafficking Victims in the United States” featuring representatives from the International Organization for Migration (IOM); “Trauma-Informed Care for Runaway and Homeless Youth” featuring the FYSB-funded Runaway and Homeless Youth Training and Technical Assistance Center, and “Combating Human Trafficking”, presented to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.  For more information on upcoming webinars and outreach events, apply to be a Rescue & Restore Coalition partner.

Refugee Health

In addition to the creation of the new Division of Refugee Health, ORR has an interdisciplinary health team with members from each of the major divisions within ORR – Refugee Assistance, Refugee Services, Children’s Services, Anti-Trafficking in Persons, and the Office of the Director – that meets each month to discuss developments related to refugee health service provision and oversight.   

ORR has been working with CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) to try to understand what is triggering suicides in Bhutanese refugee communities, undertaking an Epi-Aid study focusing on eleven communities in four states:  (1) Arizona (Phoenix and Tucson), (2) Georgia (Atlanta Metropolitan Area, including Atlanta, Clarkston, Decatur, and Stone Mountain), (3) New York (Buffalo, and Syracuse) and (4) Texas (Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston). Results of the study were shared with ORR in October, and ORR is following up on CDC recommendations and next steps.

Two ORR staff members participated in the International Experience and Technical Assistance (IETA) program, a developmental training program for Federal public health employees offered by the Center for Global Health (CGH) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia.  This 12-month professional development/technical assistance program consists of several workshops in Atlanta, Georgia, followed by a supervised short-term (12-week minimum) overseas assignment with an international public health program.  ORR staff conducted these assignments in Haiti and Kenya/Rwanda, bringing back valuable insight and lessons learned to share with colleagues and partners at ACF/HHS. 

Refugee Resettlement

Assistance to LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) Refugees remained a priority for ORR and its partners in 2012, with Heartland Alliance’s Rainbow Welcome Initiative providing training and technical assistance to refugee service providers through pilot site trainings at three sites: Philadelphia, San Diego, and Atlanta (plus their home base of Chicago).  This year, they also published Rainbow Response: A Practical Guide to Resettling LGBT Refugees and Asylees—a 65-page, interactive how-to guide to support resettlement service providers in their efforts to tailor core services to meet the specific needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender refugees and asylees.  The guide is posted on the Rainbow Welcome Initiative and ORR websites, for easy download and sharing. 

The Matching Grant program continues to outperform other employment programs, and we couldn’t be more pleased.  Under this program, nearly 35,000 clients were served in FY2012.  National voluntary agencies reported performance strong self-sufficiency outcomes across the board, with an average of 56% of clients employed and self-sufficient at the 120 day mark, and an impressive 71% at 180 days.  Final tallies and breakdowns by agency and state will be posted to the ORR website soon!

At the inception of the Microenterprise Development - Home-Based Child Care program in FY 2011, ORR awarded 13 grantees in 13 states grants totaling $2.225 million per year for two years.  The primary goal of the program was to assist women refugees to become economically self-sufficient and integrated into the mainstream. A secondary goal was to expand home-based child care business options for other refugees, to enable them enter the workforce with confidence that their children are being cared for by individuals possessing appropriate cultural competency.  ORR is pleased to see the overwhelming successes achieved by this new program thus far, encouraging continued support and expansion of the grant: in FY2012, ORR increased funding to the program, raising it from $2.225 million to $5,752 million, and offering grants to a total of 34 agencies.

During the first year of the project, the original 13 grantees have collectively:

  • Enrolled 879 refugee women in the program;
  • Trained 745 refugees;
  • Helped 172 refugees obtain business licenses;
  • Assisted 160 refugees to start home-based child care programs 
  • Created 1,061 childcare slots for children;
  • Paid $249,000 in grants to partially cover business startup costs, and assisted the home-based child care owners to obtain an additional $208,000 in subsidies;
  • Helped 207 refugees find and secure jobs, and
  • Taken 79 refugees off public assistance.

In the traditional ORR Microenterprise Development Program, there were 18 grantees funded at $4 million in FY 2012. Collectively, these grantees have:

  • Provided various technical assistance including training and one-on-one counseling to nearly 3,000 refugee entrepreneurs;
  • Made 624 business loans with about $5.32 million investment;
  • Leveraged nearly $6 million from other sources such as the Small Business Administration, the Community Development Financial Institution Fund, and financial institutions, and
  • Created 1,090 full time and part time jobs.

ORR expanded grants for the Survivors of Torture program to 29 grantees in FY2012, also funding two national Technical Assistance providers, with grants totaling $3.455 million in funding.  The Survivors of Torture program is the one grant program at ORR open to all persons, including U.S. citizens, who have experienced torture in foreign countries.  Services for Survivors of Torture Programs focus on physical, psychological, social and legal services for torture survivors, as well as education and training of service providers.

Unaccompanied Children

ORR’s Unaccompanied Alien Children’s (UAC) program experienced an unanticipated increase in referrals from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in FY2012.  In a five month period between March and July 2012, the UAC program received almost 7,200 referrals—surpassing FY2011’s total annual referrals. Conducting 24/7 operations with the help of HHS, DHS, the Department of Defense (DoD) and ORR’s providers on the ground, ORR increased capacity in emergency and then permanent shelters,  with the program serving a total of 13,625 children for the year—more than double FY2011, and far exceeding the 8,200 projected.  ORR also worked with ACF’s Office of Human Services Emergency Preparedness & Response (OHSEPR), which organized three deployments of Commissioned Corps officers to Texas to assist the emergency operation as bilingual Case Management specialists.

In collaboration with the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), ORR successfully led on-going implementation efforts related to the Legal Orientation Program for Custodians (LOPC), resulting in a significant improvement in the perception of the program by the field, and an increase in the number of referrals for this service.  Further expanded the legal services contract to provide legal rights orientations, legal screenings, and pro bono attorney assistance for double the number of children.   ORR also finalized and published new guidelines in English and Spanish pertaining to Expedited Family Reunification for UAC sponsorship.  The guidelines are available on the ORR website for easier access and download.

Last Reviewed: January 2, 2018
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