Second, refugees need to be seen for their potential contribution to society. The language of “burden” is mistaken. Rather, economic self-sufficiency is the central pillar in successful refugee resettlement.
Resettlement agencies work to help refugees gain employment as soon as possible after their arrival. According to the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement’s annual report to Congress for 2013 (the most recent year for which figures are available), the rate of refugees’ self-sufficiency at 180 days was 69 percent. A recent survey by the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute found that refugees were, in fact, more likely to be employed than the American-born population.
Third, education for the children of refugees is crucial for effective integration. Many refugee children arrive with little formal education and limited to no English skills. Yet resettlement experience in the United States shows that, with proper support, refugee children are able to thrive at school in a short time.
Data from the International Rescue Committee indicates that 95 percent of refugee students graduating out of the I.R.C.’s New York City Education and Learning program earned a diploma. This is far above the city’s baseline average of about 62 percent for English-proficient students.