Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

What Happens to Refugees After They Arrive in the US?

Image via Wikimedia Commons/Mstyslav Chernov (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Syrian refugees on strike in front of Budapest's Keleti railway station in Hungary.

From Texas Standard:

In the aftermath of the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, two terrorist suspects were killed – including one woman who activated a suicide belt – and seven more suspects are being held by French officials as a result of a raid this morning in a suburb north of Paris.

While the U.S. position remains that there is no military solution to the ISIS threat, the debate has intensified in Washington and at state capitals around the county over whether or not to allow more refugees into the United States. One of the Paris attackers was thought to have entered Europe by posing as a Syrian refugee.


Late yesterday, Obama administration officials held a conference call with 34 governors to talk about the refugee program. But Reuters notes not all were convinced by the White House's assurances of a rigorous vetting process.

Elissa Steglich, clinical professor of Law at the University of Texas at Austin, says the government partners with volunteer organization to help refugees when they arrive in the United States.

"There is a partnership that the federal government has created with voluntary agencies; most of these are faith-based nonprofits," Steglich says, naming Catholic Charities and Church World Service as examples.

The partnerships allow for resettlement and integration into communities throughout the United States. But it there a mechanism for immigration officials to keep track of where the refugees are?

"Once admitted, refugees have hold legal status in the United States and – like all of us when we move – we have obligations to report our whereabouts so that mail knows where to find us, IRS knows where to find us," she says.

Refugees and immigrants with status also must notify citizenship and immigration services as well, meaning officials at the federal level will have records of their location.

"First and foremost, like any person in the United States, they have freedom of movement in the state," Steglich says.

Both those filing for asylum and refugees, as a general matter of process, have shown that they have "suffered harm in their home countries and cannot return because of that." Refugees are often identified overseas – before they arrive – and those seeking asylum apply once they reach the U.S.

Listen to the full interview in the player above.

Rhonda joined KUT in late 2013 as producer for the station's new daily news program, Texas Standard. Rhonda will forever be known as the answer to the trivia question, “Who was the first full-time hire for The Texas Standard?” She’s an Iowa native who got her start in public radio at WFSU in Tallahassee, while getting her Master's Degree in Library Science at Florida State University. Prior to joining KUT and The Texas Standard, Rhonda was a producer for Wisconsin Public Radio.
Related Content