It seems that the approach of January 1st gets a lot of us thinking about new beginnings, so I thought it appropriate to look at some of the lives that have received an opportunity for new beginnings this past year. Although often under-reported and largely absent from the daily news, the U.S. has a vibrant refugee resettlement program. Through this program, refugees are referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to the U.S. Department of State for resettlement in the U.S. Last year, although the numbers are still down from their highest point historically, the number of refugees resettling in the U.S. increased to its highest point since the post 9/11 decline.

Last year the U.S. resettled over 62,000 refugees from different parts of the world, primarily made up of refugees from Burma, Iraq, Bhutan, and Burundi in cities as diverse as Fargo, North Dakota, Houston, Texas, and Denver, Colorado. For the past eight months I have had the opportunity to see this program work from the inside being an employee at one of the ten organizations funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration to resettle refugees in the U.S. This under-publicized resettlement program provides resettling refugees with many basic services that assist in their transition to life in the U.S. While the U.S. refugee resettlement program is not without flaws, I thought it might be fitting to recognize some of the positive stories of refugees getting a chance at a new beginning here in the U.S.

New To U.S., Iraqi Refugee Helps Others Resettle, National Public Radio

Chattanooga to resettle Iraqi refugees, Chattanooga Times

Bhutanese refugees learn American ways, San Francisco Chronicle

Refugees from Bhutan find a home in the United States, Relief Web

Finding freedom: Burmese immigrants say they want help to become better citizens, Sun Journal

Written by Kristy Crabtree