The US State Department has extended until October 21 a national moratorium on accepting new refugees into the country which began on October 1. The State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration hopes the federal government will reopen by then. Federal financial help to refugees has not been affected, but the shutdown of the Social Security Administration makes it impossible for resettlement agencies to get Social Security cards for refugees. Without them, refugees cannot access public benefits such as food stamps and Medicaid, or services such as federal employment help. An article at Austin’s KUT explains:
…as a result of the ongoing government shutdown…the State Department and the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration [has been forced] to delay the arrival of refugees from Sudan, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Eritrea, Burma, Bhutan, Cuba and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
…Traditionally, presidential administrations decide how many refugees are to be admitted during the fiscal year by the first week of October. But a national moratorium on refugees has been extended until October 21 – a date by which the bureau hopes the federal government has reopened. Until then, displaced refugees must remain in their “second countries” – halfway points between their country of origin and destination.
While federal financial assistance to refugees has not been affected, the shutdown of the Social Security Administration makes it impossible for local resettlement agencies to obtain Social Security cards for refugees. Without them, displaced persons cannot access federal employment agencies or public benefits like food stamps and Medicaid. According to Elizabeth Schmidt, the Austin-area director for Refugee Services of Texas, food stamps and pantries are the only ways the newly arrived can access food…
She says that five local refugees are currently without any form of public assistance. Read more here
An article in the St. Louis Post-Disptach raises other concerns:
…Complicating matters, said Suzanne LeLaurin of the International Institute of St. Louis, is that if the delay goes on too long, security clearances for refugees already approved to come to the U.S. could expire, postponing their arrival even more.
“I don’t know if any of these expiration dates will be waived under this circumstance,” said LeLaurin, the institute’s senior vice president of families and individuals… Read more here