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Lansing refugee resettlement programs prepare for 115 refugees this year

Posted at 7:00 AM, Jul 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-21 16:26:37-04

LANSING, Mich. — Refugee resettlement in Lansing declined sharply during Donald Trump's presidency, but the numbers are going up again.

St Vincent Catholic Charities says they expect to resettle 115 refugees here this year.

Judi Harris, the director of refugee services at St. Vincent Catholic Charitiesm, said they used to receive 600 refugees a year.

“The average number of refugees who are resettled in the whole United States in a given year is close to 80,000, every single year,” said Erika Brown- Binion, the executive director at the Refugee Development Center.

Refugee resettlement in Lansing declined sharply during Donald Trump's presidency, but the numbers are going up again.

Between 2017 and 2020, those numbers dropped significantly.

“In 2020, we only received 53 refugees, which is very little. Part of that is because of the political situation at the time, and as well as the coronavirus pandemic,” said Harris.

St. Vincent expects those numbers to increase this year and next, with refugees coming from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Burma and Afghanistan.

“This year, we're looking at resettling about 115 refugees. So between now and the end of this year, and then next year, we're going to be resettling up to 400 refugees,” Harris said.

Between 2017 and 2020, those numbers dropped significantly.

Brown-Binon said the United States is going back to being a “welcoming country.”

“The Biden administration has committed to welcoming 62,000," she added. "This year, we probably will not reach that number. But that's the commitment.”

With more refugees coming, the biggest struggle has been finding housing.

Harris said the housing landscape has changed and is less affordable.

“A lot of the property owners that we used to work with have sold their houses,” she said.

She said if they can’t find housing, they’ll have to talk to Washington D.C. about reducing the number of refugees coming. Harris said the best way to help right now is donating furniture and household goods.

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Erica Murphy

Erica Murphy

1:21 PM, Mar 03, 2021

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Erica Murphy

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