Refugee Programs Could Feel the Impact Of Border Issues

By: Jaclyn Piermarini Email
By: Jaclyn Piermarini Email

August 15, 2014

Some local refugees could feel the impact of the political fighting over border patrols in the southwest.

Unaccompanied alien children have streamed across the border in recent months and the money to deal with the influx has to come from somewhere.

The same national office that funds programs for refugees also funds unaccompanied alien children programs.

That means money to address that border crisis came out of refugee programs like the International Refugee Committee.

Executive Director Harriet Kuhr says it’s an unfortunate side effect.

"This is funding that supports English classes, employment programs, preventative health programs, school liaison programs, and just a lot of the things we do to help the refugees become quickly self-sufficient."

Our area has become home for refugees from over 30 countries in the last 15 years or so.

The local chapter of the IRC helps them with health care, education and employment programs that could be threatened by a loss of funds.

"It would be really sad if they came here and they didn't have these support services and that just kind of left them hanging."

Many refugee coordinators like Kuhr have been scrambling to figure out how to avoid layoffs and keep their services intact:

"Unless congress provides additional funding to support the expenses in this program with the children the only way to solve it is to take the money away from the refugee program which would really be a great tragedy."

The IRC is still unsure of the exact funding and job impact that the cuts would have on the local program.

"Right now they’ve managed to come up with the funding that covers through the end of this fiscal year which is through September 30th but there is something like 70 million dollars in question for the year that starts October 1."

The emergency funding bill that would have put money into the border issue is currently caught up in congressional politics and the IRC says they are watching the situation closely.

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