Rep. Keith Ellison (MN-05) today introduced the "Strengthening Refugee Resettlement Act," which increases coordination and provides much-needed resources for new Americans fleeing war, persecution, or natural disaster.
The bill streamlines refugee processing abroad, while taking advantage of that processing time to provide refugees with English classes and work orientation training. It also allows refugees to be admitted to the United States as lawful permanent residents, saving scarce government and non-governmental organization (NGO) resources.
The bill strengthens refugee integration into local communities. In particular, it expands the public-private Matching Grant program, which has been highly successful in helping refugees become economically self-sufficient.
"America's refugee program should reflect our values of generosity and inclusion for all Americans--new and old. The "Strengthening Refugee Resettlement Act' achieves this by making sure refugee families have the resources they need to be self-sufficient as quickly as possible. Strengthening support not only helps the 34,000 refugees who have come to Minnesota since 2000, but improves America's image abroad."
According to the University of Minnesota, Minnesota has historically had the highest number of refugees per capita. Between 1999 and 2007, over 34,000 people were resettled in Minnesota, from 30 different countries. Over 50,000 Somalis alone--many of them refugee--currently live in Minnesota.
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