We have some ideas for how we can help that are still in the formulation process. Hopefully I'll post more on them at a later date, as they develop.
In the meantime, we found this Q&A section from our cities refugee resettlement organization highly informative. As Helena pointed out the process is "very complicated" - totally mind-numbing in my opinion.
In short... less than 1% of the world's millions of refugees make it to the United States. There's a long and complicated process of resettlement. First an "asylee" has to apply for legal "refugee" status from a UN organization. If they get that, they're most likely kept as a refugee in the country they are in or maybe resettled there. A "3rd nation" resettlement (1st being country of origin, 2nd being the nation they are now in) is rare; in other words it's rare that folks get transferred out of the nation they fled to and into a 3rd nation for resettlement.
If a refugee comes to the U.S they've been through a lengthy process that looks at their background, family tree, biographical info, education, language, medical exams, FBI clearance, state department clearance, and more!! Refugees apply for a social security card immediately, are provided with initial housing, obtain a loan they'll have to pay back for their travel expenses to the U.S, and are expected to be working full time within 6 months of arrival.
I honestly get so angry when I hear people saying that we shouldn't help refugees until we have helped all of our Veterans and homeless. I disagree and here's why.
Yes, Veterans need far better services. I 100% agree with that!! Homelessness is not an easy problem either. I've worked with the homeless and they mostly all *wanted* to be on the streets because they were jaded by the abuse that happened in their wealthy families of origin and/or had mental health issues. There are extensive services in place to get folks off of the street if they don't want to be there: shelters, temporary housing, job placement assistance, and more. Is it perfect? No. But none of that should keep us from helping refugees in my opinion! I think this is especially true because funding for refugees comes from totally different, often international, organizations than those that help Veterans and homeless folks, and most refugees are on a fast path to self-sufficiency.
And contrary to popular opinion, being a refugee does no equate to being a homeless person in the U.S.
When I lived in Utica, NY years ago, I saw a lot of Bosnian refugees come into the area. They started purchasing homes in one of the worst areas of the city. Within a year or so, whole blocks had been fixed up. Deteriorating homes with overgrown lots were fixed up, painted, and had pretty gardens growing. Having those refugees move in was great for the city and the economy!
Seriously, these people have been through so much and are tired of being homeless. They want a home and place of security more than anything! That often leads to being exemplary citizens when they get here!
If you're interested in more info... check out this link here...
And at the end of the day, think of how you'd want the world to respond if you were the refugee! Think about how grateful you are that you're safe. Think about what your religion or spiritual views teach about kindness and caring for the poor. I always think if we all did a little something, maybe the problem would be so much more manageable than it is.