Office of Refugee Resettlement

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The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) is a program of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), an office within the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), created with the passing of the United States Refugee Act of 1980 (Public Law 96-212). The ORR offers support for refugees seeking safe haven within the United States, including victims of human trafficking, those seeking asylum from persecution, survivors of torture and war, and unaccompanied alien children. The mission and purpose of the ORR is to assist in the relocation process and provide needed services to individuals granted asylum within the United States.[1]

Since 1975, the United States has assisted in the resettlement of more than 3 million refugees.[2] Annual admissions of refugees to the United States since the 1980 Refugee Act was enacted have ranged from 27,100 to as many as 207,116.[3]

History

Before World War II, nonprofit voluntary agencies called “Volags” were generally responsible for aiding immigrants and refugees. In 1946, the U.S. federal government began supporting these organizations financially with the Corporate Affidavit Program.[4] However, beginning with an influx of refugees fleeing Castro’s Cuba, the federal government began to take the primary financial role in assisting refugees. This response set a precedent of federal involvement, with Eisenhower and Kennedy expanding efforts to assist nonprofits in settling refugees—efforts which became permanent with the Migration and Refugee Assistance Act of 1962.[5]

The Office of Refugee Resettlement was officially established with the passage of the Refugee Act of 1980. It was created in “an attempt to design a coherent and comprehensive refugee admission and resettlement policy”.[6] The act (a) gave recognition to the Office of the U.S. Coordinator for Refugee Affairs, which was given authority over the development of U.S. “refugee admission and resettlement policy”, and (b) established the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which was given the authority to provide grants with nonprofits for resettlement services (including training and healthcare), and reimbursed states for efforts undertaken within the first three years of a refugee’s living in the United States.[7]

In its goal of allowing the United States to respond quickly and efficiently to the needs of refugees, the Refugee Act of 1980 also established a new appointed office, the U.S. Coordinator for Refugee Affairs, who is appointed by the President and consults with the ORR.[8]

Major changes

In 2000, additional categories of potential recipients of ORR services were added including persons granted asylum, survivors of torture, unaccompanied alien children and certified adult victims of human trafficking. The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 added trafficked children to the list of individuals qualified for services.

In 2010, the ORR reported to U.S. Congress six guiding principles which represented a modification of its priorities:[9]

  • Appropriation placement and services
  • Client-centered case management
  • Newly-arriving refugees
  • Health and mental health services
  • Outreach
  • Data-informed decision-making

Additionally, the ORR reshaped its vision: “to assist refugees with accessing mainstream opportunities and resources”.[10]

Leadership

The current appointed director of the ORR is Eskinder Negash, former vice president and COO of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI).[11] The Office of the Director is the federal level of the ORR which consists of the Director, Deputy Director, and three associate directors for Children’s Services; Child Welfare; and Budget, Policy & Data Analysis. Sixteen other staff members also serve as support in the Office of the Director.

The ORR has five major divisions at the federal level, each with a director and support staff:[12]

  1. Division of Policy
  2. Division of Refugee Assistance
  3. Division of Refugee Health
  4. Division of Refugee Services
  5. Division of Children’s Services

Service delivery

Service delivery to refugees varies based on the division providing services and the program being performed. For example, the Division of Resettlement Services works through private nonprofit and public organizations to provide economic support and social integration services to refugees. This particular division “administers the Voluntary Agency Match Grant Program and seven competitive refugee social services discretionary grant programs. Discretionary grants are awarded on a competitive basis".[13]

Funding

The ORR receives an appropriation from Congress each year with some specifications on allotments for each division, and divides the allotment among its programs. These programs then appropriate the money to their partnering agencies in the form of grants, following specified formula guidelines. States ultimately hold the responsibility for carrying out the ORR’s mission:

“Federal resettlement assistance to refugees is provided primarily through the state-administered refugee resettlement program. States provide transitional cash and medical assistance and social services, as well as maintain legal responsibility for the care of unaccompanied refugee children."[14] The ORR uses a matching grant program to provide funding for its affiliate voluntary agencies. These voluntary agencies are then expected to operate the program through their national networks. The ORR “awards $2 for every $1 raised by the agency up to a maximum of $2,200 in Federal funds per enrollee. Note that while federal and match funds are calculated on a per capita or client basis, the actual spending of such funds is not per capita based."[15]

Partnerships

The ORR partners with several federal agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the Department of State.

Within HHS the ORR partners with the Office for Civil Rights, the Center for Disease Control, the Office of Head Start, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the U.S. Administration on Aging. Within the Department of Homeland Security it partners with Customs and Border Control, Immigration and Custom Enforcement, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Within the Department of Justice, it partners with the Bureau of Citizenship & Immigration Services, and the Executive Office of Immigration Review. Lastly, within the Department of State it partners with the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.[16]

See also

References

  1. "Office of Refugee Resettlement. 'What We Do.'". Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  2. "Office of Refugee Resettlement. 'History.'". Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  3. "Office of Refugee Resettlement. 'History.'". Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  4. Zucker, Norman L. (1983). "Refugee Resettlement in the United States: Policy and Problems.". Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 467: 173. doi:10.1177/0002716283467001013. 
  5. Zucker, Norman L. (1983). "Refugee Resettlement in the United States: Policy and Problems.". Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 467: 174. doi:10.1177/0002716283467001013. 
  6. Zucker, Norman L. (1983). "Refugee Resettlement in the United States: Policy and Problems.". Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 467: 172. doi:10.1177/0002716283467001013. 
  7. Zucker, Norman L. (1983). "Refugee Resettlement in the United States: Policy and Problems.". Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 467: 178. doi:10.1177/0002716283467001013. 
  8. Kennedy, Edward M. (1981). "Refugee Act of 1980.". International Migration Review. 15 (1/2): 145. doi:10.2307/2545333. 
  9. Secretary of Health and Human Services (FY 2010). Report to the Congress. (PDF) (Report). US Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved 1 December 2013.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  10. "Office of Refugee Resettlement. 'What We Do.'". Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  11. "Office of Refugee Resettlement. 'Leadership.'". Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  12. "Office of Refugee Resettlement Staff Directory.". Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  13. "Office of Refugee Resettlement. 'Divisions - Resettlement Services.'". Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  14. Secretary of Health and Human Services (FY 2010). Report to the Congress. (PDF) (Report). US Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved 1 December 2013.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  15. "Office of Refugee Resettlement. 'FFY 2012/13 State of Utah ORR Funded Programs.'". Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  16. "Office of Refugee Resettlement. 'Federal Agencies.'". Retrieved 5 December 2013. 

External links