Official refugee status is conferred through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and is just one of many steps in a long and complex process. By the time refugees arrive in Dayton, Ohio, they have been through a rigorous vetting process that typically takes 18 to 24 months.
Among Catholic Social Services’ programs, refugee resettlement has the most dramatic and immediate impact on the lives of those served. With remarkable strength and perseverance, these men, women and children have fled their homes to undertake the long journey to escape persecution, war and violence. On average, refugees wait 10 years before they are relocated to a new country. They are met at the airport after an exhausting trip that may have spanned several continents. They often have little in the way of personal effects after years in refugee camps. They are strangers in a strange land, but they have hope for a new, better life.
UNHCR, the United Nations’ refugee agency, tracks data about refugees and other displaced people worldwide.
Where does CSSMV fit into the resettlement process?
Individuals granted refugee status overseas by the Bureau of Population Refugee and Migration and U.S. Department of Homeland Security are admitted to the U.S. for resettlement. National voluntary resettlement agencies, such as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and their affiliates, are guided by the U.S. Department of State to provide resettlement services that will help refugees gain self-sufficiency as quickly as possible after arrival in the United States.
As an affiliate of Catholic Charities USA and USCCB, Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley’s refugee resettlement program is the portal for refugee resettlement services in the greater Dayton area.
Newly arrived refugees in Dayton receive supportive services from CSSMV’s refugee resettlement program for placement in initial furnished housing, a cultural orientation overview, employment assistance and linkage to community resources such as referrals to ESOL services and medical services.
Where do the refugees come from?
In Dayton, most arriving refugees are from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq and Eritrea, with the rest coming primarily from countries in East Africa and the Middle East.
How many refugees does CSSMV resettle in Dayton?
In 2018, our resettlement program served 184 newly arriving refugees, comprising 61 households/families.
We also served 61 “secondary migrants” in 24 households — refugees who voluntarily came to Dayton after initially arriving in other parts of the United States.
What’s the difference between an immigrant and a refugee?
The biggest difference between the two is in their reason for coming to the U.S. Refugees are FORCED to flee their home country, while immigrants CHOOSE to move to a new country.
The United Nations and the United States allow refugees to have protected status. The U.S. permits them to be here through a special visa. They are then expected to get their green card within a year and apply for citizenship after five years.
Are refugees undocumented immigrants?
To be officially classified as a refugee, a person has to flee his or her native country and apply to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for protection and refugee status. There are many subsequent steps before a refugee ever gets to the United States, including extensive vetting by the U.S. government agencies.
By the time they get here, they have been through an 18-24 month screening process and are legally authorized to be resettled in this country. Refugees are subject to the highest level of security checks of any category of traveler to the United States.
What about all the refugees arriving by boat in European countries?
Those individuals and families have fled their home countries, but when they arrive in Europe they are officially undocumented and do not have refugee status.
How can I help?
Thanks for asking!
If you are a local employer or landlord interested in working with us, please call (937) 223-7217 and ask for the Refugee Resettlement department.
For information about our current volunteer and donation needs, please visit the You Can Help section of this website.
Eckerle Administration Center
922 West Riverview Avenue
Dayton, OH 45402
(937) 223-7217 or (800) 300-2937