A bill to set up a pilot program in Iowa to assist refugees, Senate File 2270, has been sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration. The bill would allocate about $2.2 million to help community organizations train refugees to help other refugees access community resources.

First, refugees are present in the U.S. legally. They are individuals who have fled their countries of origin and who meet the United Nations’ criteria of having a “well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.”

Every year the President of the United States authorizes the admission of a certain number of refugees into the country. In recent years, the U.S. has accepted between 50,000 to 75,000 refugees per year.  Each refugee undergoes an extensive interviewing, screening and security clearance process.

Refugees are present in the U.S. legally. They are individuals who have fled their countries of origin and who meet the United Nations’ criteria of having a “well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.”

As you can imagine, refugees’ initial needs are many: food, clothing, shelter, employment, English language training, and orientation to a new community and culture. In the first 90 days, the U.S. government provides transitional assistance.

Catholic organizations around the country resettle about 30 percent of the refugees who enter our country every year. Catholic Charities here in Iowa will most likely resettle about 250 people this year.

While the details of the bill might need a little work, refugees in Iowa really could use some additional help.