Q: How many refugees live in Utah?

A: In January 2013, Utah Refugee Coalition partnered with the Refugee Services Office to estimate how many refugees have arrived in Utah.  Using data provided by Department of Workforce Services (DWS), at least 45,000 refugees have resettled in Utah and received DWS services since 1988, and 70% of that number are women and children. Recent data is showing that there are approximately 60,000 refugees living in Utah, most in Salt Lake County.

Q: How does the US decide which refugees to admit?

A: The U.S. State Department and U.S. Justice Department conduct background checks and interviews with each refugee before they are admitted. Refugees also are given medical tests to determine if they have any contagious diseases such as tuberculosis. They are tested again when they arrive in the U.S. to guard against fraudulent or false results.

Q: Who decides how many refugees can come into the US?

A: Each year, the President sets a ceiling for refugee admissions. He bases his recommendations on information provided by world refugee relief organizations, including the United Nations, and in consultation with Congress as well as federal officials who oversee refugee services. Since 2002, the ceiling has been set at 70,000 per year.

Q: Who do I contact to find a refugee family/individual in need of mentoring?

A: You may contact Asian Association, International Rescue Committee, Catholic Community Services, or contact us and we will help find you find the right program.

Q: How are the refugees introduced to America?

A: Refugees are assigned a case manager through either International Rescue Committee or Catholic Community Services, the organization that assisted in bringing them here to America. This case manager will assist in introducing the refugee to America. This is also where mentors from within the community are extremely beneficial to help the refugees integrate more successfully into the community.

Q: What is the difference between a refugee and an immigrant?

A: Immigrants leave their homes for economic opportunity, education and other reasons. Refugees flee their homes because of fear of persecution and require special protection because at the root of their exile is a serious human rights violation. They are legally brought to the U.S. once they are defined as “refugees.”

Q: Are refugees illegal immigrants?

A: No, refugees are not illegal immigrants. Refugees are legally brought here to the U.S. after being defined as a “refugee” by the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees. Refugees are even eligible for citizenship within 5 years of arrival in the U.S