"For those opposed to Donald Trump's efforts to halt refugee resettlement to the United States, the actions of U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson to block the president's second ban two weeks ago was a relief. And yet, instead of celebrating, refugee support agencies across the country laid off staff and imposed hiring freezes. This is because, despite the courts' rejection of both refugee bans, refugee resettlement is at a standstill due to the Department of Homeland Security's effectively halting the processing of refugees
, at least temporarily, due to the uncertainty over what happens next. And since agencies' budgets are tied to refugee arrivals, the funding has become uncertain and unstable.
Here in Worcester, the largest resettlement agency, Ascentria Care Alliance—formerly Lutheran Social Services—recently announced that they had to lay off or reduce hours for ten of their staffers, part of a larger cut to all of their offices in New England.
While one might conclude that we do not need refugee resettlement agencies if there are no refugees coming, this overlooks the tens of thousands of people who have arrived in the U.S. and who are now watching as the agencies tasked with helping them integrate in their new homes draw down services. For refugees who are already here, downsizing at such resettlement agencies, historically overworked and understaffed, means a decrease in key programs like individualized case management and education and employment assistance.
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. Telegram and Gazette