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THERE ARE OVER 65.6 MILLION FORCIBLY DISPLACED PEOPLE IN THE WORLD RIGHT NOW. MORE THAN 22 MILLION ARE REFUGEES.

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More than 65 million people have been forced to leave their homes in search of safety for their families. Countries bordering regions in conflict have seen hundreds of thousands of people flooding over their borders. The nations of Europe are struggling to keep up with the social, economic and political challenges of so many newcomers needing employment, education and social services. 

The United States took in about 85,000 refugees in Fiscal Year 2016 and set the cap for the following year at 110,000. However, the Trump administration's travel bans, suspension of resettlement and presidential determination capped the FY 2017 number of refugees to be moved into the United States at a record low of 45,000. The actual number of refugees resettled in the US in 2017 was less than 25,000.  

Source: United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)


Who are refugees?

"A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Most likely, they cannot return home or are afraid to do so."

United Nations High Commission for Refugees

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Refugees enter the United States legally and with the right to enroll in school, get a job and eventually apply for US citizenship. Refugees are not asylum seekers or undocumented immigrants.

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Refugees do not choose their country of resettlement. They are faced with the task of setting up a home in the midst of a brand new culture, climate, language and political system with about six months of government support. 

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More than half of all refugees are under the age of 18, though globally children only make up about 31% of the population. 

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Many refugees from Iraq and Afghanistan arrive on Special Immigrant Visas (SIV), which are specific US visas given to them because they have become threatened as a result of working for the US military or government in a hostile environment, often as interpreters.

RESETTLEMENT IN TEXAS

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Texas accepted 7,803 refugees in 2016, the second highest in the country behind California.

The primary Texas cities of resettlement are Houston, Dallas, Ft. Worth, Austin, San Antonio, El Paso and Amarillo.

 

Approximately 1,000 refugees arrived in Austin in 2016 hoping for a new home.

Refugees currently being resettled to Austin are primarily from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Bhutan and Burma.

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WHAT IS THE REFUGEE EXPERIENCE LIKE?

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A dangerous situation forces people to flee their homes and look for safety in refugee camps or a neighboring country. 

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When safe return is not possible, people apply for refugee status with UN High Commissioner on Refugees. Less than 1% of refugees are approved for resettlement.

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The average wait time for approval for resettlement is 19 years. Refugees undergo the highest level of security checks of any category of people entering the US. 

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After a country of resettlement is chosen, the family begins complete medical exams, cultural orientation and language training. 

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Upon arrival in the US, refugee families have the support of local resettlement agencies for 3-6 months, on average.

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Newly arrived refugees register for school, enroll in English classes and immediately search for a job. They begin the hard work of integrating into a new culture.