A refugee is a person who was been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. According to International Rescue Committee, out of more than 26 million refugees in the world, less than one percent are considered for resettlement worldwide. The United States is one of these 29 resettlement countries. The US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP), has admitted more than 3 million refugees in the United States since 1980.
The US refugee crisis
Each year the president consults with Congress to determine a target for refugee admissions. This target is called the Presidential Determination. The average annual admissions cap is 95,000 refugees, under both Republican and Democratic administrations. However, the Trump Administration reduced refugee admissions by more than 85 percent, setting record-low admission caps.
The White House increased the cap to 125,000 this year, just in time to accept tens of thousands of displaced Afghans and Haitians. According to the White House, the US expects to resettle up to 95,000 Afghans. More than 10,000 predominantly Haitian migrants are also seeking asylum from natural disasters and political instability.
How does this current refugee crisis impact employment in the United States, and what can you do to help?
Refugees and employment
Several federal laws protect refugees’ rights to live and work in the United States. As an employer, it’s important to understand how you can support refugees as they seek financial independence and meaningful work. This includes not only providing job opportunities, but developing resources for mental health and wellness, trauma recovery, and other needs these individuals entering your workforce may have.
Many nonprofits help refugees and immigrants find employment. Upwardly Global is an example of an organization that partners with job seekers and employers to “eliminate employment barriers for immigrant and refugee professionals and advance the inclusion of their skills into the U.S. economy.” Work closely with such private employment services and public authorities to better support your local refugee community.
You want your organization to be a place where refugees feel safe, welcome, and accepted. Offer training for employees to better understand why it is important for your organization to hire refugees and how they can support these individuals. Ensure your policies and culture uphold zero-tolerance toward even a hint of discrimination. Finally, create opportunities for social interaction between all employees, so that refugees can begin to develop a sense of belonging at your organization.
Encourage career growth.
Provide the necessary training, certifications, and other development for refugee hires. Assess any skills gaps and work with each individual to create a plan to help fill these gaps through learning opportunities, both on and off the job. Assign a mentor to every refugee new hire. This person can act as both a support system and career mobility advocate.
Be aware and sensitive.
Keep in mind that some of your employees may have a connection to an ongoing refugee crisis. Employees may have relatives or loved ones in embattled areas. Some employees may need time off to help relatives. News of a refugee crisis may be triggering for some employees.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is one of the institutions that determines refugee status for individuals seeking admission in the United States, along with US embassies and approved humanitarian aid organizations. For more detailed information on how you can provide opportunities for refugees at your organization, check out UNHCR’s “Engaging With Employers in the Hiring of Refugees: A 10-point multi-stakeholder action plan for employers, refugees, and civil society.” This comprehensive report includes checklists of actions for key stakeholders, including employers.
At Brighter Strategies, our passion is to build strong organizations, and our purpose is to serve missions that matter. We believe championing refugees does both. You want to change the world, and we want to help you do it. Learn more about partnering with Brighter Strategies today.