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

Utah Refugee Resettlement Groups Prepare For Budget Cuts

Erik Neumann
Natalie El-Deiry, Deputy Director of International Rescue Committee in Salt Lake City.

With anticipation of a possible new travel ban from the Trump Administration, refugee resettlement agencies in Utah are bracing for the worst.  

The International Rescue Committee is one of Utah’s two refugee resettlement agencies. For every person they help find a new home, they get money from the U.S. State Department. Each year they resettle half the refugees that come to Utah, around 600 people according to their staff. But they’re expecting that number to be nearly cut in half.

"For the IRC this year, we’re estimating about 366 refugees, so that’s a pretty drastic drop," says Natalie El-Deiry with the International Rescue Committee. 

El-Deiry says that drop in numbers would come from the proposed 120-day halt on all refugees to the U.S. and an indefinite block of Syrian refugees, which she says need the most assistance.

El-Deiry says the decrease in clients could translate to about 20 percent less in their budget.

"The economic impact is: when we’re looking at reducing numbers across the board, it’s reducing an organization’s budget and so most organizations that resettle refugees are going to be looking at a budget shortfall," El-Deiry says. 

Danielle Stamos works with Catholic Community Services, the other resettlement agency in Utah. She says they also resettle about 600 refugees in the state each year.

Those refugees come from many countries, including Somalia, Iraq and Syria, three of the seven countries that President Trump named in his January executive order.

"The people who are given priority for resettlement are those with the most extreme cases. And right now that really is happening in Syria as we’ve all seen around the world. They’ve had the most intense cases and need the most immediate attention," Stamos says. 

President Trump’s initial executive order was blocked by the United States’ Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. But last week Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told reporters that a new, more specific order is being considered.

KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.