On May 3rd, President Biden increased the national cap on refugee admissions to 62,500 for fiscal year 2021. This decision is good for America and good for refugees, many of whom have waited for years to have the chance to find safety and freedom in the United States.
In Arizona, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) is already working to resettle newly arrived refugees while preparing for increased arrivals in the months to come. So far this year, the IRC has resettled 46 refugees in Phoenix and 14 in Tucson. 22 more refugees are currently scheduled in Phoenix and 26 scheduled in Tucson. Additional refugee arrivals are expected to be scheduled as the year continues. Many of the newly arrived refugees are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with others from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and Syria.
Increased refugee arrivals are particularly welcome for families here in Arizona. Many refugees have family members currently in the resettlement process, and they are hopeful that the President’s decision will result in reuniting with their families here in Phoenix and Tucson.
Arizona has historically had one of the highest numbers of refugee arrivals of any state. According to data from the Arizona Department of Economic Security, Arizona has regularly resettled 3-6% of national refugee admissions since 1997. The IRC expects that a significant percentage of national arrivals will again resettle in Arizona in 2021.
When refugees arrive in Arizona, the IRC provides them with comprehensive services to make them welcome. Refugees are provided housing, furniture, clothes, and other basic necessities upon arrival. Cultural orientation and job training classes prepare adults for work in the US, while IRC employment specialists help them find their first job. Children are enrolled in school and provided additional support through youth and education programs. IRC staff connect refugees to health providers and provide clinical therapeutic services on-site. The ultimate goal is integration and self-sufficiency, with 84% of newly arrived refugees becoming self-sufficient just months after arrival.
Community partners and individual supporters play a key role in making refugees welcome. Whether it is through donations or volunteering, refugee resettlement is only made possible by the ongoing generosity and welcome of Arizonans. Please consider making newly arrived refugees welcome through a contribution or service: