Every year, the United States provides resettlement opportunities to thousands of the world’s most vulnerable refugees, in a program endorsed by the President (and every President since 1980) through an annual determination. The U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP), which resettled nearly 75,000 refugees in the United States in 2009, reflects our own tradition as a nation of immigrants and refugees. It is an important, enduring and ongoing expression of our commitment to international humanitarian principles. While the U.S. Government cannot guarantee the success of these refugees, it is capable of providing sufficient support to ensure refugees are able to get on their feet during their first weeks and months in the United States – and move quickly toward becoming independent, productive members of their new communities.
The Reception and Placement Program administered by the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration includes a one-time per capita grant for the initial weeks after arrival, but the grant has declined in real terms by more than 50% since its inception some decades ago. The combined level of public and charitable resources available to the program is simply insufficient to do a quality job of initial resettlement.
In light of these challenges, the State Department increased the Reception and Placement per capita grant from $900 to $1,800, effective as of January 1, 2010. This is intended to address challenges refugees face in their first 30-90 days in the United States. It will directly benefit refugees and the network of local non-profit affiliates that serve them. The bulk of the increase, at least $1,100, will be designated for direct support of refugees – so that in the first many weeks after their arrival, they have a roof over their heads, a clean bed in which to sleep and other needed basic assistance. Affiliates providing aid to refugees will have some flexibility in how those funds are allocated, and will also be able to use up to $700 per capita to meet costs related to management of this program. This $700 figure – about a 50% increase over the current management ceiling— will address the need to lower client-to-staff ratios, support positions to coordinate volunteers or develop private resources for Reception and Placement, or otherwise improve the quality of Reception and Placement services received by refugees.
In addition, the State Department will continue to participate in an ongoing, comprehensive review of refugee resettlement led by the White House.