ICNA Relief Boston was granted a meeting with Senator Kerry’s office on November 9, 2010. The scope of the meeting was to discuss with the Senator a proposal for a scholarship program for Refugees who were professionally licensed in their native country. The plan calls for an endowment fund for individuals who have shown leadership potential and the ability to return to school to renew their licenses according to American degree standards. Senator Kerry has already introduced a bill calling for the exchange of foreign workers from Muslim countries.
In addition, ICNA Relief Boston will gather documentation identifying holes in the system which are causing Refugee families to become homeless and dependent on the public welfare system. We are also calling for greater oversight of the resettlement process and reporting of resettlement agencies to the State Department. “We are finding that the Iraqi Refugee situation is unique in the sense that the US economy is not able to support such an influx of new citizens. “We are finding many families falling through the cracks, especially those who were brought to the US through the International Rescue Committee who closed their offices in MA” Sr. Malika Rushdan; ICNA Relief Boston Program Director
There are grave misconceptions within the community as to the amount of support Refugees receive when entering the country. The Refugees are in debt before they even reach the USA, having to sign a contract to repay their airfare within 1yr of entering the country. Out of the $1,900 grant resettlement agencies receive per person they resettle, they lobbied to keep $700 of which to be used towards administrative cost. The agencies pay 1st and last months rent for Refugees, requiring them to begin paying full market rent by their 2nd month. Refugees do not receive subsidized housing, making it extremely difficult for them to pay rent and utilities on the low amount of support they receive. On average Refugee families receive up to $450.00 per month for each adult member of the household. ICNA Relief Boston is calling for increased funding to support Refugee families, enabling them to become self-sufficient in the shortest time possible.