Catholic Charities provides services in refugee resettlement and assistance through case management. Case managers work one-on-one with refugees and their families to help achieve success in a new country.
A refugee is someone who has fled their country of nationality, usually to a neighboring country, because of a “well-founded” fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political beliefs, or membership in a particular social group.
After fleeing their country, most refugees live in refugee camps until they are accepted for residence by another country. The wait for acceptance ranges from one month to eight years. Only 1⁄2 to 1% of these applicants are approved to come to the United States.
Resettlement and the Future
The primary goal of the resettlement process is to help refugees work toward self-sufficiency as contributing members of society and, eventually, attain their citizenship. Refugees pay taxes and re-pay their travel expenses.
With the assistance of Catholic Charities, refugees gain success as contributing members of their communities and the local economy. The majority of adults who are able to work are successful in finding employment within three to five months. Most gain financial independence within two to three years while 60-75% eventually become homeowners. Many others are business owners, athletes, carpenters, dentists, doctors, dress makers, engineers, interpreters, landscapers, nuns, nurses, pharmacists, pastors, students in baccalaureate programs, tailors, teachers, and wood workers.
The U.S. Refugee Program is a public/private partnership. After the U.S. State Department arranges for safe travel of refugees, they are assisted by local resettlement agencies and refugee service providers. The State Department provides limited funds to these agencies to set up housing, look for jobs, rally private community support, and otherwise help the refugees fit into their new country.
The North Carolina Division of Social Services (DSS) also provides for refugee public assistance (also federally funded) in the form of medical and cash assistance. Refugees are eligible for up to eight months after arrival in the country and eligibility criteria parallel the state’s Medicaid and welfare programs. Applications are made at the local DSS office.
By the Numbers
The United States limits the number of refugees accepted for resettlement each year. Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte resettles between 300-350 refugees annually. Since 1975, the agency has resettled approximately 15,000 refugees representing 27 nationalities.