How Are Refugees Resettled?

After my message this past weekend at Eastbrook, where I offered some final comments about the current response to refugees in the States, I had some conversations with people about how we resettle refugees and whether it is ‘safe’ to do so given what happened in Paris. This is something we should take seriously. It is also something we must be informed about. Here is a basic overview of the process from an article in September on the PBS NewsHour website, “U.S. to welcome 10,000 more Syrian refugees. How are they picked?” Take a quick read below.

For an even deeper look at the security screening involved, you may want to read another article on the Refugee Council USA website, “Security Screening of Refugees Admitted to the United States: A Detailed, Rigorous Process.

Heeding international cries for the United States to do its part to help migrants, President Barack Obama has ordered the administration to bring 10,000 Syrian refugees into the U.S. over the next year.

It usually takes about 18-24 months to process a case from referral or application to arrival in the U.S., so can the 10,000 target be hit?

Yes, said a State Department official speaking on background to reporters on Friday, because the department already has more than 10,000 applications in hand through its $1.1 billion resettlement program.

What process do the applicants go through?

  • Refugees apply for resettlement, mostly through the U.N. refugee agency known as the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. UNHCR has stepped up its referrals to the United States since 2014 for the most vulnerable candidates, including female-headed households, victims of torture, LGBT refugees, religious minorities and those who need medical care. The vast majority of Syrian referrals come from five countries: Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq.

  • UNHCR sets aside the majority of cases it believes would run into problems with security in the U.S. under the Terrorism-Related Inadmissibility Grounds guidelines, and it instead tries resettling the refugees in other countries, the official said.

  • There are other “direct application” programs for special cases including U.S.-affiliated Iraqis, Iranian religious minorities, former Soviet Union religious minorities, Cubans and Central American minors with a legal parent in the U.S.

  • The refugees undergo an in-person interview by Department of Homeland officials for security purposes and a medical exam by the Department of Health and Human Services to see if they have tuberculosis. If they do, their application is suspended until they undergo treatment.

  • Once accepted, the refugees travel to the U.S. is arranged by the International Organization for Migration. The refugees sign a form saying they will repay the travel loan.

  • The refugees are sent to about 180 communities in the United States that have resettlement programs, including Atlanta, San Diego, Houston, Dallas, Chicago and Boston. The department doesn’t send refugees to cities such as San Francisco, New York and Washington, D.C., because the rent is generally too expensive, said the official. The newcomers can choose to move to other cities if they don’t like where they’ve been placed.

Glory in the Ordinary

Red_vineyardsThere is a beautifully striking painting by Vincent van Gogh entitled “The Red Vineyard.” This painting was the only official purchase of a van Gogh painting within the artist’s lifetime. Building on the work of Millet before him, van Gogh paints a group of common peasants working diligently in the vineyard, bathed in the warm light of the setting sun. The scene is both commonplace and lofty, everyday and exalted: ordinary people doing their ordinary work, yet splashed with the sun’s glory as they do it.

Surely, this is a picture of how we work with God in our everyday venues of work: ordinary people doing their ordinary work, yet splashed with the glory of Christ as we do our work as unto the Lord (Col 3:22-24).

Together in Christ: Race, the Gospel and God’s People

On Monday, January 26, 2015,  Eastbrook Church was honored to host Bishop Walter Harvey of Parklawn Assembly of God for a conversation and time of prayer on the topic of race and the Gospel here in the city of Milwaukee. We opened a lot of points of discussion, did not address everything, perhaps raised more questions than we answered, but it was a great opportunity to press in deeper as the people of God together.

You can watch the video of the whole session below and access our recommended next steps here.

Four times a year we gather as a church to discuss key topics to help us move forward together. This year, we begin our Leadership Forum series with by addressing the challenging topic of how the gospel transforms racial divisions in our world and city. In a city known as one of the most segregated cities in the United States, we want to live into the dream of God for a multiethnic people rooted in the reconciling gospel of Jesus Christ.

Next Steps from Leadership Forum, 26 January 2015

Four times a year we gather in a Leadership Forum at Eastbrook Church to discuss key topics to help us move forward together in ministry. This year, we begin our Leadership Forum series with by addressing the challenging topic of how the gospel transforms racial divisions in our world and city. In a city known as one of the most segregated cities in the United States, we want to live into the dream of God for a multi-ethnic people rooted in the reconciling gospel of Jesus Christ.

It was a gift to have Bishop Walter Harvey of Parklawn Assembly of God join us for this discussion. At the end of the night we recommended a series of next steps and I wanted to make those available to a wider audience via my blog.

Next Steps: What Do I Do Now?

#1 Get with God
• Acknowledge and repent of any sin (see Psalm 51; Daniel 9:4-19)
• Lament over our nation (see Lamentations)
• Pray as Christ prayed (see John 17)

#2 Know and Apply what the Bible Teaches
• Read Genesis 12:1-3 in light of God’s multiethnic mission
• Read Ephesians with attention to chapter 2 on the new humanity in Jesus of Jews and Gentiles brought together
• Read Galatians in light of the situation that Paul describes in chapters 1 and 2

#3 Understand the BackgroundRead More »