RCUSA Reform Recommendations
The members of Refugee Council USA (RCUSA) have formulated several recommendations for reform of the U.S. Refugee Program. The U.S. Refugee Admissions and Resettlement Program are antiquated and in need of urgent reform. It has been almost thirty years since the passage of the Refugee Act of 1980. This law was drafted in the context of the large scale resettlement of refugees from South East Asia, a relatively homogenous group. Today the program admits individuals and groups from every region of the world and includes torture survivors, unaccompanied minor children, and victims of sexual and gender based violence. Some refugees have lived in camps for decades and others have been deprived of basic human rights, including the freedom of movement. The program designed largely for one group of refugees from a particular historical context is no longer adequate in addressing the more diverse and complex refugee protection and resettlement situations of today.
Moreover, the socio-economic realities of the U.S. have also changed dramatically over the last thirty years. Computers, robotics, and machines are increasingly replacing human labor, making the job market difficult for many refugees to access. The welfare system has been drastically scaled back, leaving almost no social safety net for newly arrived refugees unable to find work. Often the poor health of a particular refugee population is the basis for its admission to the U.S., yet the health care system has grown more and more expensive making treatment unaffordable for most refugees. This leaves many local communities responsible for picking up the pieces for what should be a federal responsibility.
These changes are exacerbated by the current economic downturn which has made daily life difficult for many Americans. Unlike many Americans, however, refugees are newcomers and have not had time to build the social networks necessary that can help insulate families from tough economic times. That is why it is important that refugees receive adequate support upon arrival so that they have the tools they need to succeed.
See the following documents outlining RCUSA's recommendations for various aspects of the U.S. refugee program:
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Photo credit: EMM