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With Fewer New Refugees, Richmond Resettlement Agency Shifts Priorities

The new IRC office in Richmond includes classroom and meeting spaces as well as other services for refugees.
The new IRC office in Richmond includes classroom and meeting spaces as well as other services for refugees. (Photo courtesy of IRC)

The Richmond office of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) is shifting priorities to focus on long term services for refugees. This change comes as less than 30,000 new refugees are admitted into the country this year. Advocates say even fewer refugees are expected to come in 2020.

To prepare for the potential slash, resettlement agencies are reexamining their resources to serve those already in the community. The IRC in Richmond, with help from a major donor, opened a new office space for on-site English classes, job training skills and a free “resettlement store” for clients to pick up household items. 

Harriet Kuhr, the Director of the IRC in Virginia is proud of the new office. “We’re able to double the space we had before and have a lot more capacity,” she told VPM.

The office is also providing legal aid to help clients receive green cards, apply for citizenship and navigate their benefits, which has become increasingly difficult to obtain.

“There are so many roadblocks being put up,” said Kuhr. “These are benefits that people are legally entitled to.”

Early this year, VPM broke a story on the Richmond resettlement agency Church World Service, closing their office this September.

 “We don’t know what will happen next year but we still intend to be doing what we’re doing,” Kuhr said.

The President sets the ceiling for the number of refugees allowed to enter the United States. That number is expected to be shared with resettlement agencies this fall.

For more on refugee resettlement, sign up for information about the forthcoming VPM News podcast Resettled.