CWS praises introduction of refugee reform bill

March 15, 2011


Church World Service welcomes introduction of refugee reform bill

Washington, D.C. — Global humanitarian organization Church World Service applauds Congressman Gary C. Peters (D-Mich.) for his introduction of the Domestic Refugee Reform and Modernization Act.

“This legislation is an enormous step forward to improving our nation’s refugee resettlement program.  It will bring positive results not just to refugees resettled in the United States, but also to the communities welcoming and helping refugees adjust to their new homes,” said Erol Kekic, director of the CWS Immigration and Refugee Program.

“The refugee resettlement program in the United States has always enjoyed bi-partisan support in the U.S. Congress and we urge all House members to cosponsor this bill and support its enactment.”

The Domestic Refugee Reform and Modernization Act of 2011 would elevate the Office of Refugee Resettlement within the Department of Health and Human Services, thereby giving the office broader authority to make structural changes and to direct resources more effectively, while increasing transparency and inter-agency communication.

The bill also would improve the process by which refugee resettlement funds are allocated to states by including in the formula a projection of refugee arrivals during the coming fiscal year in addition to figures for the past three years of arrivals. It also calls for increased data collection on secondary migration, health and mental health issues, housing needs, and long-term employment outcomes, as well as a Government Accountability Office report on the resettlement program overall.

“In this time of economic hardship and budget constraints, efficiency-enhancing reforms like these are essential to carrying out the federal government’s responsibility to refugees and to the communities receiving them,” said Kekic.

“These reforms to the refugee resettlement program are long overdue, and we commend Rep. Peters for his leadership in efforts to enhance the efficiency and success of the program.  Every year, the United States welcomes refugees who have fled their homelands because of fear of persecution, terror, violence and even death.  This bill would put the U.S. in a better position to adequately welcome them and help them on their path to integration and success in their new home.”

CWS is one of the ten voluntary agencies working with the Department of State to resettle refugees in the U.S.