Blog & Stories / 12.08.20

CMS NY and RCUSA release report to help rebuild US refugee resettlement

Washington, DC – Today, Center for Migration Studies New York and Refugee Council USA have released a new report detailing how to rebuild the US refugee resettlement program. The report came as a result of three first-of-their-kind convenings with key resettlement stakeholders including former refugees, resettlement workers, and community and government partners. Read the full press release, and access the report below.


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New Report from the Center for Migration Studies and Refugee Council USA Offers Guidepost for Rebuilding the Refugee Resettlement Program

Refugees and those who work with them share insights on how to strengthen the resettlement system.

New York, NY – The Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS) and Refugee Council USA (RCUSA) today released a new report, Charting a Course to Rebuild and Strengthen the US Refugee Admissions Program. This report outlines the findings from the first comprehensive national survey of resettlement stakeholders, centered on the experience and expertise of resettled refugees and those who work with them. The report speaks both to the strengths of the resettlement program and the challenges it faces, including those created by Trump administration policies.

The survey was conducted by CMS and heavily informed by three community gatherings convened by RCUSA in the fall and winter of 2019. Respondents included refugees and other key stakeholders who work for resettlement agencies, non-profits and government agencies.  The survey found strong convergence between the services provided by the US refugee program, the needs of refugees, and the goals of the program. Importantly, the survey and gatherings identified how the program can be rebuilt to strengthen and expand the services and opportunities afforded to refugees.

Since USRAP’s creation by the Refugee Act of 1980, the United States has resettled 3.1 million refugees, but the current administration has drastically reduced refugee admissions, depleted community-based resettlement networks, and imposed onerous new requirements on resettlement agencies

“The survey highlights the historic success of the program, while also presenting constructive feedback on particular programs, the needs of refugees at different points in their settlement and integration, and a blueprint for revitalizing this program,” said Donald Kerwin, CMS’s executive director and a co-author of the report.

The report argues for greater responsiveness to the individual needs of refugees over time. It highlights the need for “client-centered” case management, assessment of the challenges, needs and goals of each refugee, and the development of tailored plans of services and programs in response. It also argues for specific programmatic improvements, and revitalization of the community-based networks that facilitate the integration and well-being of refugees and their families.

“Ultimately, the USRAP should catalyze long-term inclusion. A wealth of information from refugees and those who work in resettlement validates key program elements and identifies how even small shifts could enhance impact,” said Adam Hunter, RCUSA’s executive director. “That knowledge is reflected in this report, and I hope it will be used by the Biden administration as it works to rebuild the program.”

The report is now available at cmsny.org/publications/rebuilding-usrap/.

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The Center for Migration Studies (CMS) is a New York-based educational institute devoted to the study of international migration, to the promotion of understanding between immigrants and receiving communities, and to public policies that safeguard the dignity and rights of migrants, refugees, and newcomers. For more information, please visit www.cmsny.org. Refugee Council USA (RCUSA) is a diverse coalition advocating for just and humane laws and policies, and the promotion of dialogue and communication among government, civil society, and those who need protection and welcome.