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March 20, 2017   •   VOL. 55, NO. 6   •   Oakland, CA
Other front page stories
 
Spanish foundation collaborates
with Wood Rose Academy

 
Knights of Columbus recognize
altar servers
Catholic Charities ready
to welcome more refugees
 

Catholic Charities of the East Bay expects seven families to arrive to be resettled into new homes, after careful vetting by the U.S. State Department.

But even that process, which can take years, may not be enough to ensure their arrival. The Trump administration's 120-day ban on refugee resettlement, scheduled to take effect March 16, could delay them.

CCEB has received about 75 percent of the refugees it has been expecting to resettle during this fiscal year, which will end Sept. 30.

Earlier this month, the organization resettled a young Sudanese man who had been waiting four years for admission, as well as a family of seven from Afghanistan. Both groups have ties in the Bay Area, and the Afghani family had years-long ties to the U.S. military.

Some Catholic Charities groups across the United States have projected they might need to lay off workers if the number of refugees diminishes. Last month, Catholic Charities of Tennessee told 13 employees in the agency's refugee resettlement they no longer had jobs.

There have been no layoffs at Catholic Charities of the East Bay.

Fewer than a half-dozen people work as director, resettlement case managers and transition team members. "We have a very small staff," said Mary Kuhn, communications director for Catholic Charities of the East Bay. "They all work very hard."

Their work is fortified by the volunteers in more than 20 parishes that have trained to assist in resettlement.

"We couldn't have done all this without the support of the parishes," Kuhn said. These volunteers have furnished apartments, and provided transportation, job leads and friendship to the new arrivals.

"They're really welcoming the stranger," Kuhn said.

Both Santa Maria Parish in Orinda and St. Monica Parish in Moraga have recently helped resettle refugee families from Burma, Kuhn said. Despite the uncertainty of when its family might arrive, St. Perpetua Parish in Lafayette has formed a committee to serve refugees.

The work of welcoming has spread beyond parishes, Kuhn said, with Piedmont Community Church welcoming its second refugee family, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints providing household supplies for the new arrivals.

"The work's not done" once the refugees have turned the key to their new home, Kuhn said. Catholic Charities resettlement workers and the volunteers help the new arrivals find work, meet the rent, get their legal affairs in order and enroll their children in school.

They put them, she said, "on the path to self-sufficiency."

President Trump's March 6 revised executive order, replaced his Jan. 27 order, which had been blocked in the courts. The new order imposes a 90-day ban on issuing visas to people from six nations: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen.

It suspends the U.S. refugee program for all countries for 120 days. The order limits the total number of refugees to be admitted this fiscal year to 50,000, instead of 110,000, as the Obama administration directed.

(Catholic News Service contributed to this report.)

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