Caritas assists documented refugees by providing and moving them into housing, acclimating them to their environment and helping them find employment.
Q. Who are Refugees?
A. Under both international and U.S law (UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees of 1951 and U.S. Refugee Act of 1980), a refugee is someone with a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion, and who is unable to avail themselves of protection from the government where he or she is located.
Individuals who have left their homeland voluntarily in search of a better life are not considered refugees. They are economic migrants. Many governments, including the U.S., partner with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to protect and assist refugees who are unable to return to their home countries.
Q. How do refugees get to the U.S. for resettlement?
A. Refugees must meet one of the three priorities in order to be resettled in the U.S. They must be referred by the UNHCR or a non-governmental organization (NGO), be part of a group identified as having specific concern to the U.S., such as Iraquis and Burundians, or be eligible for family reunification.
Once a refugee has been interviewed by a federal program officer, has undergone all of the screening requirements, and has received approval for resettlement in the U.S., he or she is paired with a Voluntary Agency (VOLAG) in the U.S. to begin the reception and placement process. These VOLAGs work with the U.S. Department of State to assure appropriate placement and services for the refugee once he or she arrives in the U.S.
Q. How many refugees does the U.S. assist?
A. Each year, the President, through a Presidential Determination, authorizes a certain number of refugees to enter the U.S. for the upcoming year. In recent years, that number has ranged from 50,000 to 80,000 people.
Caritas of Austin has resettled an average of 360 refugees per year over the last 8 years.
Q. From which countries do refugees come that are resettled by Caritas of Austin?
Caritas of Austin resettles refugees from countries throughout the world. You can move your mouse over each marker on the interactive map below to see the name of each country from which Caritas has resettled refugees.
Q. What services does Caritas provide to refugees?
A. Caritas provides a service continuum for refugees experiencing poverty by providing a safety net of the most basic needs for survival. Refugees have lost the protection of the government of their homeland. Caritas meets the immediate needs for safety, food and housing and links them to resources leading to their self-sufficiency in 3-6 months. Those resources include healthcare, English language training, financial assistance, transportation, education, immigration, employment and community services.
Q. What kinds of job skills do refugees resettled by Caritas of Austin posess?
A. Refugees resettled by Caritas come from a variety of backgrounds. Some refugees have spent many years in a refugee camp with little or no education. Others come to us highly educated with training and experience as engineers, doctors and accountants among other professions.
Q. How can I volunteer directly with refugees?
Please visit our Volunteer Page.