Utah Cap Haps Blog

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Refugee Resettlement in the U.S. and in Utah

There are many questions about refugee resettlement in Utah due to the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Mali. Here is some background on the refugee program in Utah. 

The Utah Department of Workforce Services houses the Utah Refugee Office where refugee services are coordinated and implemented. Also in Utah, there are two resettlement agencies: 1) The International Rescue Committee, and 2) Catholic Community Services. These organizations arrange for housing, furniture, and basic household supplies. They also assist with resettlement plans, which include referrals to social services and employment. 

Local states do not have the authority to close doors to refugee resettlement because it is a federal program. However, states have close coordination with the U.S. Department of State on the resettlement of refugees. 

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees determines who is a refugee. In general, a refugee is someone who was forced to flee his or her country due to persecution based on religion, race, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. 

The U.S. Department of State screens all refugee applications, and vets them prior to third-country resettlement. This process takes about two to five years. Medical examinations and background security checks are completed during this process. Other federal agencies that are involved in security checks include the FBI, Homeland Security, and the CIA. 

Nationally, about 70,000 to 80,000 refugees are resettled in the U.S. every year. Utah typically receives about 1,100 refugees each year, from more than 20 different countries. Today, there are approximately 60,000 refugees living in this state. 

Approximately 1,500 Syrian refugees have resettled in the United States last year. Utah welcomed 12 Syrian refugees in the same period. If the U.S. chooses to accept an increase in refugees from Syria, less than one percent of the total Syrian refugees would be resettled in the U.S. and approximately 100 to 150 Syrian refugees could relocate to Utah.  

For more details on refugees in the U.S. and in Utah, click on this report and to view the current screening process at the federal level, view this link