The Impact of Refugees in Our Community

Aguero family with Dan Heffernan

Last week, we talked about the role that the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) plays in providing services at JFCS and why their funding is in jeopardy. As the conclusion to this series, let’s look at how that affects JFCS clients and our community.


The Impact on Clients

In the last five years, 13,383 refugees arrived in Kentucky. These people have left everything they had in their home countries and are struggling to start over again in America. Many of these refugees are still in need of assistance, and they are still eligible to receive ORR-funded services.

Kentucky would lose approximately $2.28 million in funding for refugee services if $94 million is transferred to the UAC program. Refugee resettlement agencies such as Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services, Kentucky Refugee Ministries and the International Center would no longer have the infrastructure necessary to provide services to the refugee population. This funding provides services to aid refugees in becoming self-sufficient, such as job development, English language training and citizenship classes.

$2.28 million in funding cuts will affect many service areas. (Not all of the listed services and programs are provided by JFCS. Programs provided by JFCS are highlighted below.)

• $386,600 in Individual Development Account (IDA), Home-Based Child Care Microenterprise Development and Refugee Microenterprise programs. IDA programs enable refugees to save for homes, post-secondary education, recertification in their professions, and business capitalization. Microenterprise programs (including Home-Based Child Care) provide training, technical assistance and loans to help refugees start and grow small businesses.

• $625,480 in Targeted Assistance funding for employment services, skills training, career development, English language training, cultural orientation, citizenship classes, driver’s education, computer classes, and mental health services.

• $196,390 in Cuban/Haitian Discretionary funding for employment, case management and support services for Cubans and Haitians primarily resettled in Louisville.

• $800,000 in Refugee Social Service Formula funding for employment services, English language training, case management and other social services.

• $236,780 in Refugee School Impact funding to increase English proficiency and academic achievement of recently arrived refugee children in the public school system.

• $146,000 in Refugee Health Promotion funding which educates refugees on how to use the healthcare system effectively and responsibly and helps them enroll in health coverage through the Kynect program.

• $57,000 in Services to Older Refugees funding that assists refugees over the age of 60 with citizenship preparation and cultural integration.


These cuts will impact a large number of refugees in our state, especially in Louisville where there is a sizeable refugee population.

• 2,900 employable refugee adults would no longer have assistance in locating employment or learning English.

• Approximately 2,200 refugee children would lose services in six (6) public school districts across the state.

• 3,700 newly arrived refugees would lack basic case management services, including assistance with medical appointments, transportation, housing and access to mainstream services.

The Impact on the Local Economy

A study was conducted by Chmura Economics and Analytics on the economic impact of refugee households and refugee services on Cuyahoga County, Ohio (the Cleveland area) in 2012. They study found that 4,518 refugees resettled in the area from 2000-2012 produced an estimated total economic impact of $48 million.

That means that in the Cleveland area alone in 2012, the investment of a mere $4.8 million of federal refugee resettlement agency spending produced a 10/1 return of $48 million. Think about that for a minute, and then compare Cleveland’s 4,158 to the roughly 19,000 refugees resettled throughout our state between 2000 and 2012. The economic impact of refugees in Kentucky in 2012 alone would be exponentially higher. The loss of this economic catalyst in Kentucky would be equally devastating.

In Kentucky in 2013, ORR-funded employment services resulted in:

• 1,302 unduplicated job placements;

• $9.26 average hourly wage;

• 71% entering employment that offered health benefits;

• 57% of employable adults self-sufficient within 8 months of arrival


The Refugee Health Promotion program will be completely eliminated if funding is not restored. This grant funds programs and services such as:

• Community Health Workers who are trained to assist refugees from their own cultural groups to navigate the U.S. healthcare system; by providing education to increase understanding of medications, accessing transportation to medical appointments, understanding and following medical provider recommendations, and appropriate use of the emergency room.

• Support for mental health services, health screening facilitation, and enrolling refugees in health coverage through Kynect;

• Health orientation for all incoming refugees on how to use the healthcare system responsibly and effectively


Cuts to refugee programs will not only affect the refugees who utilize those services; it will also mean a loss of jobs for all those who provide services for the refugee population, and a loss of revenue for the local economy.


What You Can Do

The ORR budget for the next fiscal year will be decided before July 4, 2014. We are asking Congress to increase the ORR budget to $3.1 billion to prevent reductions in refugee resettlement services and meet the needs of the UAC program.


Call and write your Senators, your U.S. Representative, and the chair of the House Appropriations Committee. Ask them to take action to increase the ORR budget to $3.1 billion to prevent reductions in refugee resettlement services and meet the needs of the UAC program.

• Everyone should contact Representative Harold “Hal” Rogers, who is chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. His district covers Eastern Kentucky, but no refugees are directly resettled there. There are populations of secondary migrants living in his district.

• Kentucky residents should contact Senator Mitch McConnell and Senator Rand Paul. McConnell is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

• Louisville residents should contact Representative John Yarmuth.

• Lexington residents should contact Representative Andy Barr.

• Bowling Green and Owensboro residents should contact Representative Brett Guthrie.

Spread the word through social media. Send tweets to your senators and representatives (see listing below), as well as the House and Senate appropriations committees (@SenateApprops, @HouseAppropsGOP, @AppropsDems), urging them to increase ORR funding for FY2015.

• Everyone should tweet @RepHalRogers.

• Kentucky residents, tweet @McConnellPress and @SenRandPaul.

• Louisville residents, tweet @RepJohnYarmuth.

• Lexington residents, tweet @RepAndyBarr.

• Bowling Green and Owensboro residents, tweet @RepGuthrie.


Stay informed. Follow @KYRefugeeOffice as they tweet daily to urge the appropriations committees to increase funding to ORR. Follow @JFCSLouisville for more information about this issue, JFCS programs, outcomes, success stories and much more!


Kentucky Legislators

Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers
Click here to contact the Appropriations Committee.
Click here if you live in Rogers’ district.

Senator Mitch McConnell
Click here to contact Senator McConnell.

Senator Rand Paul
Click here to contact Senator Paul.

Representative John Yarmuth
Click here to contact Rep. Yarmuth.

Representative Andy Barr
Click here to contact Rep. Barr.

Representative Brett Guthrie
Click here to contact Rep. Guthrie.


This report was compiled from information provided by Catholic Charities of Louisville, Kentucky Office for Refugees and Vera’s Center on Immigration and Justice.

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