For 44 years, we helped create safe and hopeful futures for our newest Austinites.
Resettlement Program Update
For 44 years, Caritas of Austin has served the internationally homeless (refugees) alongside those experiencing homelessness locally.
We provided a safe home, cultural orientation, financial assistance, food, English language training, employment assistance, access to healthcare, school enrollment, and other community resources during each family’s first six months in Austin.
Caritas of Austin’s Board of Directors voted to end our refugee resettlement program effective September 30, 2018. The steady decline in new refugee arrivals into the U.S. in general and Austin in particular has made it clear that the program can no longer be sustained. We will continue to serve refugees with employment services through December, 2018.
A refugee is a person who is forced to flee their home country due to war or persecution. A refugee is different than an immigrant in that they do not choose to migrate for better opportunities.
Caritas of Austin began resettling refugees in 1974, with our first refugees coming from Cuba and Vietnam.
Yes, when a refugee arrives in the United States, they are fully legal to live and work anywhere in the country indefinitely.
Refugees are the most intensely screened group of people entering the United States, and all screening happens prior to their arrival. The screening process is coordinated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The vetting process includes multiple background checks, biometric information collection, in-person interviews, and health screenings.
From the time a person gains refugee status approval from the United Nations, it takes on average 18-24 months before a person or family is resettled.
Refugees receive very limited financial assistance from the United States government and resettlement agencies can only provide case management assistance for six months. The top challenges refugees face include lack of English, transportation, adjusting to a new culture and norms, and the transferability of existing job skills and certification.