Who is a Refugee?
“The term ‘refugee’ means any person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality . . . and who is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion . . . ” Immigration and Nationality Act § 101(a) (42) [8 U.S.C.1101]
The Refugee Experience
- There were 16.1 million refugees, globally, at the end of 2015
- Less than 1% of all refugees were resettled that year
- There were 31.1 million internally displaced people at the end of 2016
- Most refugee camps do not have running water, electricity, and only cover basic necessities
- Most refugees arrive in the U.S. with little English or knowledge of modern city living
How JVS Works with Refugees
JVS was established in 1949 to assist Holocaust survivors, refugees, and displaced persons build new lives in this country. Since 2004, JVS has been resettling refugees in Kansas City, MO, and resettles nearly 500 refugees every year.
- JVS works with refugees to help them become self-sufficient in America. Services provided to refugees include:
- Locating and furnishing housing
- Providing basic necessities
- Case management/counseling
- Employment assistance
- Referrals to schools and English as a Second Language (ESL) classes
- Referrals to healthcare
- Community orientation
- Frequently Asked Questions
How do refugees get to Kansas City?
- A Public-Private-Partnership between the federal government and nine non-governmental organizations assists refugees, who have been screened and accepted for resettlement by the Department of Homeland Security, to begin new lives in America. The U.S. Refugee Admissions Program is re-authorized annually by the Congress: an Admissions Ceiling is set and populations of particular concern are identified. Some refugees have family or friends already in Kansas City (“U.S. Tie” cases); others will begin as strangers in a strange land (“Free” cases). JVS accepts both kinds of cases and annually assists refugees from over a dozen different countries of origin.
Why do refugees need help?
- Refugees are not like other immigrants who have planned and prepared for their journey to the U.S. They are people who have been forced from their homes by violence and injustice. Their world has been turned upside down and, when set aright, they find themselves in a fast-moving 21st century country full of modern technology, unaccustomed freedoms, and the expectation that they will take control of their lives and forge a better future for their children. Of course it’s disorienting; and at least three-quarters of refugees speak no English upon arriving. JVS helps refugees overcome the initial fears, relax into our multi-cultural city, understand that there is a place for them here, and know that, with proper guidance, the sky is the limit for their children.
For more information contact:
Steve Weitkamp, Director, Refugee Resettlement Services, ext. 8907