oversight

Soviet Refugees: Issues Affecting Domestic Resettlement

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1990-06-26.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                    United   States   General   Accounting   Office

                    Report to the Honorable
<;A0                Charles E. Grassley, U.S. Senate



June   1990
                    SOVIET REFUGEES
                    Issues Affecting
                    Domestic Resettlement




 GAO/HRD-90-1OGBR
      United States
GAO   General Accounting Office
      Washington, D.C. 20648

      Human Resources Division

      B-239117

      June 26,199O

      The Honorable Charles E. Grassley
      United States Senate

      Dear Senator Grassley:

      In your letter of October 27, 1989, you asked us to examine the domestic
      costs of resettling refugees admitted to this country, particularly Soviet
      refugees. In discussions with your staff, we agreed to (1) obtain esti-
      mates of resettlement costs from public and private sector officials,
      (2) supplement these estimates with analyses of existing data collected
      by the Department of Health and Human Services and others, and
      (3) examine factors that might constrain capacity to resettle more refu-
      gees. This report summarizes the information presented in our January
      29, 1990, briefing to your staff.

      An organized program of grants, public assistance, and private philan-
      thropy supports most refugees admitted to the United States. Because
      refugees tend to resettle in a few states, the costs of resettlement are not
      spread evenly across the country. Neither public nor private sector
      agencies involved in resettlement disaggregate costs for Soviets or any
      other refugee groups. Available cost estimates for all refugees vary
      widely.

      Public assistance to refugees is generally a very small percentage of
      total public assistance. Since passage of the Refugee Act of 1980, how-
      ever, federal assistance has diminished, and some states have expressed
      concerns that the Department of Health and Human Services has shifted
      refugee resettlement costs to them. Private sector officials also told us
      that federal cuts have increased their burden, but they reported that
      they can afford to resettle more Soviet refugees.

      We obtained this information from officials of the voluntary agencies
      resettling most of the Soviet refugees (see p. 20), the Department of
      Health and Human Services, the Department of State, and the Immigra-
      tion and Naturalization Service, as well as from academic and other
      experts on immigration. In addition, we reviewed documents, studies,
      and other data provided by those parties, but did not verify the accu-
      racy of the information. Our work was done from November 1989 to
      January 1990 in accordance with generally accepted government
      auditing standards.




      Page 1                                         GAO/HRLHO-IDGBR   Soviet Refugees
Page 3   GAO/HBD9@lO6BR   Soviet Refugees
contents




Abbreviations

AFIX       Aid to Families With Dependent Children
HHS        Department of Health and Human Services
INS        Immigration and Naturalization Service
VOIAG      voluntary agency


Page 5                                    GAO/HRD90106BR   Sovirt   Rdu.qees
                                     Refugees: Domestic Costa and Other Factors
                                     That Affect Resettlement




Figure 1: Refugee     Ceiling5 and
Admirrion5    (Fiscal Years1%1-9@
                                     Rdugus     In Thousands
                                     225
                                     210
                                     195
                                     150
                                     168
                                     150
                                     125
                                     120
                                     105
                                      90
                                      75
                                      50
                                      45
                                      30
                                      15
                                       0

                                       1981           1982     1952    1954       1955       lS5S       ls57       1988       1989       1920
                                       flsal    Yrn

                                               -        Ceilkq
                                               mm-1     AdmissDns

                                     Sources Data for fiscal years 1981-88 are from 1988 Statlstlcal Yearbook of the lmmlgratlon and Natural-
                                     tzatlon Servtce (Aug 1989) Data on wlmgs forfwal     years 1989-W are from Refugee Admwlons and
                                     Resettlement POIICY,Congresstonal Research Setvlce (Mar 26, 1990)


                                     Upon admission, refugees resettle throughout the United States. They
                                     tend to be concentrated, however, in several states as a result of initial
                                     placement decisions that have stressed family reunification; the availa-
                                     bility of sponsors in only some areas; and secondary migration of refu-
                                     gees to areas where there are family, friends, or an established ethnic
                                     community. Figure 2 shows the approximate refugee populations in the
                                      10 states in which the largest numbers of refugees resettle.




                                     Page 7                                                          GAO/HRKMC-106BR        Soviet Refugees
                        Refugees: Domestic Costs and Other Factors
                        That Affect Resettlement




                        The Refugee Act of 1980 authorized federal assistance to resettle refu-
Refugees Are Entitled   gees and to promote their self-sufficiency.* Financial assistance and ser-
to Financial            vices to these “fully funded” refugees are provided under cooperative
Assistance and          arrangements by either federal, state, and local governments or private
                        sector voluntary agencies (VOLAGS).Figure 3 traces the process though
Services                which federal, state, local, and private agencies work together to
                        resettle fully funded refugees.




                        “Some “privately    funded”   wfugees, who are not eligible for pubhc asstance,   are also included m the
                        cedings set for refugees




                        Page 9                                                            GAO/HRLS99496BR       Soviet Refugees
                        Refugees: Lknnestic Costs and Other Factors
                        That Affect Resettlement




                        Fully funded refugees are entitled to an initial reception and placement
                        grant. The grant provides assistance with the costs of basic needs, such
                        as food, shelter, and clothing, for the first 30 days after entering the
                        United States. This assistance is provided by the Department of State in
                        the form of per capita grants to VOLAGS who meet refugees as they
                        arrive in this country and help them get settled in their new
                        communities.3

                        After 30 days, fully funded refugees are eligible for additional public
                        assistance administered by the Department of Health and Human Ser-
                        vices (HHS). HHS reimburses states for assistance provided through such
                        programs as Aid to Families With Dependent Children (AFDC),Medicaid,
                        general assistance, and medical assistance.

                        HHS  also provides matching grants to VOLAGS for certain services pro
                        vided to refugees.’ The VOLAGmatching grant program is an alternative
                        program to provide national voluntary resettlement assistance and ser-
                        vices on behalf of refugees. The program’s goal is to help refugees attain
                        self-sufficiency without access to public cash assistance.


                        Funding from both the Department of State and HHS has been reduced
Federal Assistance      since passage of the Refugee Act of 1980. Department of State reception
Has Diminished in the   and placement grants to VOLAGS have not kept pace with inflation. In
1980s                   1980, the per capita reception and placement grant was $600 for each
                        refugee. In 1989, this per capita grant was $525-30 percent less than it
                        would have been if it had kept pace with inflation.

                        Since 1986, federal assistance from HHS has fallen by nearly 60 percent,
                        primarily because of reductions in reimbursements to the states for cash
                        and medical benefits, including AFIX, Medicaid, and other social services.
                        Between 1986 and 1990, HHS cut back the maximum allowable time for
                        reimbursements (for refugee cash and medical assistance) from 36 to 12
                        months, effectively shifting resettlement costs to the states. As of Jan-
                        uary 1990, reimbursements for the nonfederal share of AF-DC, Medicaid,
                        and Supplemental Security Income were cut to 4 months. In addition,
                        subsequent to the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act, HHS reduced the federal
                        matching grant available to VOLAGS from $1,000 to $957 per refugee.

                        3The principal   VOLAGS in the refugee assw.tance program are list.4 in appendix 1.

                        “A complete description of the refugee resettlement program is available from the annual report:
                        Refugee Resettlement Program. Report to the Congress, HHS, Family Support Administration,     Office
                        of Refugee Resettlement (.J;m 31, l9S9)




                        Page I1                                                        GAO/HRD9@1O6BR         Soviet Refugees
                                          Refugees: Domestic Casts and Other Factors
                                          That Affect Resettlement




Figure   5: Refugee   Arrivals From the
Soviet   Union (Fiscal Years 1982-88)
                                          22   Rm        In Thoraands
                                                                                                                                                  .
                                          20

                                          16

                                          16

                                          14

                                          12

                                          10

                                           6

                                           6

                                           0

                                           2

                                           0

                                           1962            1662             1984             1965            1666             1667               1666
                                           Fiscal Ym

                                          Source 1988 Statlstlcal Yearbook of the lmmlgratlon and Naturallzato-     Serwce (Aug 1989)


Status of Soviet Refugees                 We recently reported on the processing and admittance of Soviet refu-
                                          gees to the United States.” Until August 1988, the United States granted
                                          nearly automatic refugee status to all Soviet citizens wishing to emi-
                                          grate. However, beginning in August 1988, all Soviet refugee appli-
                                          cants-like all other refugee applicants-were       required to establish
                                          individually that they suffered persecution or had a well-founded fear
                                          of persecution to quality for refugee status. This change was necessary,
                                          U.S. officials said, to bring the Soviet refugee program into compliance
                                          with the Refugee Act of 1980, as well as to ensure that the limited ref-
                                          ugee admissions available for Soviets were used by bona fide refugees,

                                          In anticipation that some Soviet citizens would be denied refugee status
                                          under the new adjudication practice, the Attorney General extended an
                                          offer of public interest parole to all Soviets found ineligible for refugee
                                          status. Parole status entitles a Soviet to enter the United States but does
                                          not provide U.S. government financial aid or the right to apply for per-
                                          manent resident status, as does refugee status.



                                          ‘Soviet Refugees: Procesing   and Admittance   to the United States (GAO/NSIAD-90-158,        May 9.
                                           1990).




                                          Page 13                                                          GAO/HRDSO-106BR         Soviet Refugees
                             Refugees: Domestic Costs and Other Factors
                             That Affect Resettlement




                             Neither HHS nor VOLAGS disaggregate domestic resettlement costs by ref-
Cost Estimates for           ugee country of origin. Some VOLAGS provided estimates of the domestic
Resettling Soviets           costs of resettling all refugees, but these varied widely. In part, this
Incomplete                   reflected differences in the accounting for costs and in the completeness
                             of estimates. For instance, some estimates included in-kind donations
                             while others did not.

                             HHS data show that refugees on public assistance received about $3,000
                             each in fiscal year 1988. We did not attempt to survey states about the
                             Soviet resettlement costs; however, some states have raised concerns
                             about their growing costs for resettling refugees in general, because of
                             federal cuts in assistance.


Voluntary Agency Cost        Estimates of the domestic costs associated with resettlement of refugees
                             in the United States vary widely. This is partly because some refugees
Estimates for Resettlement
T,----
v ar-y
                             will be employed within days of arrival in the United States and require
                             no assistance, while others will require high levels of assistance for long
                             periods. Costs also vary because of geographic differences in the ( 1) cost
                             of living, (2) employment opportunities, (3) state assistance programs,
                             and (4) inconsistencies in accounting for and reporting VOLAGS' costs for
                             refugee assistance, especially in valuing donations of in-kind goods and
                             volunteer time.

                             Estimates of the cost of resettlement for the average refugee made by
                             VOLAGS, government organizations, and other experts range from $1,800
                             to over $7,000. For example, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society esti-
                             mates that fiscal year 1990 average domestic resettlement costs per ref-
                             ugee for the first 4 months are $2,641. Church World Service’s financial
                             information for 1989 shows an annual average cost per refugee of 5337
                             for cash and goods, with its local affiliates reporting average costs
                             ranging from $15 to $1,070. Church World Service estimates an addi-
                             tional average of 35 volunteer hours per refugee. The Tolstoy Founda-
                             tion relies on the $525 reception and placement grant to cover its
                             resettlement costs and does not account for donated goods and services
                             or other sources of support used in resettlement.




                             Page 16                                       GAO/HRDWIO6BR    Sosirt   Hrfuv,ees
                                          Refugeea Dome&k Coats md Other Facton
                                          That Affect        Resettlement




Figure t: State Cash Assistance to
Refugees as a Percentage of Total State
AFDC Expenditures (Fiscal Year 1988)      2.0         PercanlotAFoc

                                          1.6

                                          1.0

                                          1.4

                                          12

                                          1.0

                                          0.6

                                          0.6

                                          0.4

                                          02

                                              0


                                                  P
                                                            c  L
                                                               *
                                                                          A
                                                                          A..
                                                           d          /
                                          P


                                          Note, Data on cash awstance for refugees include AFDC. Refugee Cash Assistance. General Assw
                                          tance, and Supplemental Security Income Data on cash assistance for all parsons were avaIlable only
                                          for AFDC Therefore, these estimates overstate the extent of state ald gomg to refugees.
                                          Source: Data on cash assistance for refugees are from HHS, Office of Refugee Resettlement (Dee
                                           1999). Data on cash assistance for all persons are from Background Material and Data on Programs
                                          WIthIn the Jurlsdlctlon of the Commtttee on Ways and tieans. U S. House of Representatives (Mar 15,
                                           1989).




                                              Page 17                                                   GAO/HRDBo-1OI3BR      Soviet Refugees
                        Rdugees: Domestic Costa and Other Facton
                        That Affect Resettlement




                        Experts we interviewed had divergent views about capacity to absorb
Views on Resettlement   more refugees. Department of State officials told us there is a current
Capacity Vary           backlog of refugees waiting for sponsors. We have reported that, as of
                        February 28, 1990, about 13,000 refugees were waiting for sponsorship
                        and some of these refugees had been waiting more than 4 months.’
                        Others told us that the United States could absorb many more refugees,
                        notwithstanding transitional resettlement costs. They cited the growth
                        in our country’s population from immigration and the aggregate produc-
                        tive contributions made by refugees and other immigrants.

                        Officials from VOLAGS said that the country can absorb more refugees
                        than the ceilings allow and that the ceilings are set for political as well
                        as economic reasons. In general, these agencies felt that they could place
                        as many refugees as they dealt with last year-about       100,000. They
                        added that as in the past they could resettle at least 200,000 refugees
                        with a relaxation of administrative requirements.

                        Most VOLAGS in our review cited health care costs as the single most
                        important obstacle to overcome in increasing their capacity to resettle
                        more refugees. Lack of health insurance-through       Medicaid and private
                        insurers-hampers     their ability to recruit sponsors for refugees. Smaller
                        VOLAGs, which do not have large administrative organizations of their
                        own and operate on an informal, interpersonal basis, told us that if
                        administrative requirements relating to case management, accounting,
                        and office location within 100 miles of a refugee placement were eased
                        or eliminated, they could handle many more refugees.

                        All agencies discussed the increased burden on voluntary, state, and
                        local agencies from diminished federal assistance. An official from the
                        local New York agency settling Soviet Jews talked about the problems in
                        recruiting qualified professional staff, particularly case workers and
                        counselors. Several VOLAG officials also discussed private sector support,
                        which varies depending on the individual circumstances of each agency.




                        ‘Sowet Refugees: Processmg and Admittance   to the IInited States (GAO/NSIAD-90-I    5’1 1.12, ‘4
                         1990).



                        Page 19                                                      GAO/HRD90106BR         Soviet Refugees
Appendix II

Major Contributors to This Briefing Report


                   Cynthia A. Bascetta, Assistant Director, (202) 275-0020
Human Resources    Eleanor L. Johnson, Evaluator-in-Charge
Division,          Roger Straw, Evaluator
                   Ellen Radish, Evaluator
Washington, D.C.




                   Page 21                                     GAO/HRBC@lO6BR   Soviet Refugees
Page 23   GAO/HRD.Bo1OllBR   Sovlet Refugeea
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RelatedGAO Products


              Soviet Refugees: Processing and Admittance to the United States
              (GAO/NSIAD~O-158, May 9,1999).

              Asian Americans: A Status Report      (GAO/HRD90-36FS,        Mar. 8, 1990).

              Refugees From Eastern Europe      (GAO/T-~~~~-90-07,         Nov. 2, 1989).

              Processing Soviet Refugees   (GAO/T-NSIAD-~~-~~,        Sept. 14, 1989).

              Processing Soviet Refugees   (GAO/T-NSIAD-89-22,        Apr. 6, 1989).

              Refugee Programs: Financial Accountability for Refugee Resettlement
              Can Be Improved (GAO/NSIAD-89-92, Mar. 17,1989).

              Refugees and U.S. Asylum Seekers From Central America
                               Mar.9, 1989).
              (GAO/T-NSL~D-~~-~~,


              Refugees: Overseas Processing of Admission Applications
              (GAOINSIAD&~~~, Sept.9 1988).

              Refugee Program: Status of Early Employment Demonstration Projects
                             Feb.3, 1988).
              (GAO/NSIAD-~~-91,


              Refugee Program: Initial Reception and Placement of New Arrivals
              Should Be Improved (G~o1~s1~~~36-69, Apr. 7, 1986).




(105537)      Page24                                                 GAO/HRD9MO6BRSoviet     Refugee!
Page 22   GAO/HRDB@lO6BR   Sovlct   Refugees
Appendix I

Principal Voluntary AgenciesInvolved in
RefugeeAssistancePrograms

               American Council for Nationalities Services, New York, New York

               American Fund for Czechoslovak Refugees, Inc., New York, New York

               Church World Service, New York, New York

               Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, New York, New York

               International   Rescue Committee, Inc., New York, New York

               Iowa Department of Human Services, Des Moines, Iowa

               Lutheran Immigration and Relief Committee, Inc., New York, New York

               Polish American Immigration and Relief Committee, Inc., New York,
               New York

               Presiding Bishop’s Fund for World Relief, New York, New York

               Tolstoy Foundation, Inc., New York, New York

               United States Catholic Conference, Washington, D.C.

               World Relief Refugee Services, Wheaton, Illinois




               Page 20                                      GAO/HRD9O-106BR   Soviet Refugees
                                           Refugees: Domestic Costs and Other Factors
                                           That Affect Resettlement




Figure 8: State Medical Assistance to
Refugees as a Percentage of Total State    1.0    Pwcsnf of Medicaid
Medicaid Expenditures (Fiscal Year 1988)
                                           0.9

                                           0.9

                                           0.7


                                           OJ I
                                           0.5

                                           0.4

                                           0.3

                                           0.2

                                           0.1

                                             0

                                                  *

                                             d



                                           Note Data on medtcal assistance for refugees Include MedIcand. Refugee MedIcal Assistance. and Gen-
                                           eral MedIcal Assistance Data on medtcal assistance for all persons were awlable only for MedIcaId.
                                           Thus, this estimate overstates the percentage of state ald gomg to refugees
                                           Source, Data on medlcal assistance for refugees are from HHS. Offlce of Refugee Resettlement (Jan
                                           1969) Data on medIcal awstance for all persons are from HHS, Health Care Financing Admlnlstratlon
                                           (Jan. 1990).


                                           Table 1 shows the eligible population of all refugees in the four states
                                           most affected by Soviet resettlement. Average annual assistance per
                                           recipient in fiscal year 1988 varied from about $2,200 to $8,400, com-
                                           pared with a national average of about $3,100.

Table 1: Cash Assistance to Refugee8
(Fiscal   Year 1988)                                                                                                                Average
                                                                                             Eligible                        assistance per
                                           State                Total Imillions           oooulation       Recioients               recioient
                                           CA                     ..-~- $‘05 0            - ’ 60,598           47,809                  $;,I96
                                           NY                              280                  13.981           3,342                  8,378
                                           MA                              147                   6,833           3,087                  4,762
                                           IL                              77                    4,944           1,150                  6,696
                                           Umted States                 $240.4                 146,768          78,411                 $3,066

                                           Source Refugee Resettlement Program Report to the Congress, HHS, Farmty Support Admmlstratnn,
                                           Offwe ot Refugee Resettlement (Jan 31. 1989)




                                           Page 1.9                                                      GAO/HRDW-106BR       Soviet Refugees
                                    Refugees: Domestic Cost4 and Other Factors
                                    That Affect Resettlement




Refugee Resettlement                Most Soviet refugees settle in four states (see fig. 6). According to HHS,
                                    California was the most common destination for Soviet refugees, with 60
Costs for Soviets Fall              percent of the total placements in 1988. This was due to the large pro-
Unevenly on the States              portion of Armenians in the Soviet flow, who joined Armenian conunu-
                                    nities in California. New York placed second with 20 percent of the
                                    Soviet arrivals, followed by Massachusetts (6 percent) and Illinois (4
                                    percent).



S&iet Refugees (Fiscal Year 1988)
                                    14   Numhm in Thousands
                                    13
                                    12
                                    11
                                    10
                                     9
                                     a
                                     7
                                     6
                                     6
                                     4
                                     3
                                     2
                                     1
                                     0




                                    Source Refugee Resettlement Program Report to the Congress, HHS, Famlly Support Admnstratlon,
                                    Offlce of Refugee Resettlement (Jan 31, 1989)


                                    Even in the four states in which most Soviet refugees resettle, cash
                                    assistance for all refugees averaged less than 1 percent of the total AFDC
                                    expenditures in two states, and was highest in Massachusetts and Cali-
                                    fornia, but below 2 percent (see fig. 7). Similarly, medical expenditures
                                    for refugees in three states represented less than 0.1 percent of the total
                                    Medicaid expenditures and were highest in California at only 0.6 percent
                                    (see fig. 8).




                                    Page 16                                                    GAO/HRS9@106BR        Soviet Refugees
                         Refugees: Domestic Costs and Other Factors
                         That Affect Resettlement




                         Under thenew standard, the Immigration and Naturalization Service
                         (INS) began to deny Soviets refugee status. During fiscal year 1989, INS
                         denied refugee status to about 11,500 Soviets in Moscow and about
                         6,300 Soviets in Rome.” Because some denied Soviets were from ethnic
                         or religious groups that had historically experienced discrimination or
                         persecution within the Soviet Union, concerns were raised by congres-
                         sional members and others about how consistently the worldwide stan-
                         dards were being applied. Also, U.S. officials were concerned about the
                         political implications of Soviets remaining indefinitely in Italy. Few
                         Soviets denied refugee status in Rome were accepting parole status.

                         In November 1989, the Lautenberg Amendment was enacted. This legis-
                         lation requires the executive branch to establish four refugee processing
                         categories for Soviet applicants processed during fiscal year 1990.

                         The administration began implementing the Lautenberg Amendment on
                         February 1,1990, in accordance with INS implementing guidance, dated
                         January 24, 1990. The new guidance establishes four refugee processing
                         categories for Jews, Evangelical Christians, Ukrainian Catholics, and
                         members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church; requires case-by-case adju-
                         dications; and lowers the approval threshold for category members to
                         make it easier for them to qualify as refugees. As the legislation
                         intended, INS is applying the guidance retroactively to all category appli-
                         cants denied refugee status since August 1988. However, because INSdid
                         not implement its guidance until February 1, 1990, it is too early to
                         assess the overall impact of the Lautenberg Amendment on fiscal year
                          1990 Soviet refugee adjudications.


Many Soviet Applicants   Because of the large numbers of Soviets expected to apply for U.S. ref-
Expected to Apply for    ugee resettlement, concerns have been raised about the adequacy of the
                         fiscal year 1990 ceiling of 50,000 Soviets. Our recent report on Soviet
Resettlement             refugees estimates 45,000 of the 50,000 Soviets authorized for admis-
                         sion to the United States are being processed in Rome and the remainder
                         in Moscow. The Department of State estimates that 170,000 Soviets
                         applied for admission as of the end of May 1990.




                         “In late 1989, processing of Soviet applicants   for refugee admission was moved from Rome to
                         Moscow.




                         Page 14                                                         GAO/HRD9@106BR       Soviet Refugees
                                                         Refugees: Domestic Casts and Other Factors
                                                         That Affect Resettlement




                                                         The ceiling for refugees from the Soviet Union has been increasing as a
More Refugees                                            proportion of the overall refugee ceiling, resulting in Soviets becoming
Admitted From the                                        the largest group of refugees admitted in fiscal year 1990. Through most
Soviet Union                                             of the 1980s annual admissions of Soviets varied between about 3,000
                                                         and 21,000. The ceiling for 1990 is about 50,000. In part, this trend is
                                                         attributable to the recent loosening of Soviet restrictions on emigration
                                                         (see fig. 4).



Figure 4: Emigration From the Soviet Union (1975-89)
60   Numbws in Thousands


50




     0       To countries other than Israel. primarffy United States
             To Israel

                                                         Source National Conference   o”   Sowt Jewry (Apr 1990)

                                                         The number of Soviet refugee arrivals increased sharply in fiscal year
                                                         1988 (see fig. 5). The arrivals included three groups- Soviet *Jews,
                                                         Evangelical and Pentecostal Christians, and Armenians. In fiscal year
                                                         1990, about 80 percent of the Soviets scheduled to enter the United
                                                         States are Soviet Jews, while most of the remainder are Evangelical and
                                                         Pentecostal Christians and Armenians.




                                                         Page 12
                                               Refugees: Domestic Costs and Other Factors
                                               That Affect Resettlement




Figure 3: Resettlement Assistance -A       Cooperative Effort Among Federal, State, and Local Governments and Private Agencies




                                                                                              Federal                           Reimbursement
                                                                                              Reimbursements                             Claims
                    Per Capita                                                                                         v
                     Pavment
                                                                                             u          State Refugee Coordinators
                                                                                                             State Welfare and
                                                                                                   l      Social Service Agencies            -




                                                                                                   State and/or Local Welfare and Social

                                                                                                     Contractors-Including  VOLAGS.
                                                                                                 Refugee Mutual Assistance Associations
                                                                                                         and Other Private Groups




      VOLAGS (Local Affiliates in
       Communities Nationwide)
     Often with Co-Sponsors (e.g.,                               Orientation   and
  Churches, Families, Individuals, etc.)
                                                                  Employment
                                                                       and
                                                                 Social Services




                                                ‘In 1989. 11 VOLAGs and one slate (Iowa) had cooperative agreements with the Department of Stale lo
                                                partlclpale in the mltial reception and placement of refugees in the Unlted States. for whtch they were
                                                pad $525 per refugee (per capita grant)
                                                Source Refugee Program Status of Early Employment Demonstration Prqects (GAOINSIAD 88-91,
                                                Feb 3.1988)




                                                Page 10                                                        GAO/HRB!3@106BR        Soviet Refugees
                                            Refugees: Domestic Costs       and Other Factors
                                            That Affect Resettlement




Figure 2: Ten States With Largest Refugee Populations (Fiscal Year 1988)



                  p: :: :.
                      M---




                                                  I       om~.800
                                                  a        i ,a01 m 3,w0
                                                           3,523

                                                  m        7.522
                                                  m        34360




                                             Source Refugee Resettlement Program Report to the Congress. HHS, Family Suppon HU~I~~SI~SIIO~.
                                             OffIce of Refugee Resettlement (Jan 31, 1989)




                                             Page 8                                                    GA0/HRB90406BR       Soviet Refugees
Refugees:DomesticCostsand Other Factors
That Affect Resettlement

                        In the Refugee Act of 1980, the United States adopted the definition of
Admission of Refugees   refugees which brought United States law into conformity with the
to the United States    United Nations Protocol and Convention Relating to the Status of Refu-
                        gees. Under the act, refugees are defined in part as persons outside their
                        own countries of nationality who are unable or unwilling to return
                        because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution. In certain
                        circumstances designated by the President after consultation with the
                        Congress, persons still within their native countries may also qualify as
                        refugees if persecuted.’

                        After consulting with the Congress, the President determines annually
                        the overall number of refugees who may be admitted to the United
                        States and sets specific ceilings on the numbers who may be admitted
                        from various regions of the world. In fiscal year 1980, ceilings were set
                        to admit primarily Asian refugees; but by fiscal year 1990, ceilings of
                        about 50,000 each were set for refugees from Asia and the Soviet Union.
                        Admissions paralleled these changes in the ceilings (see fig. 1).




                        ‘Refugees may enter the Umted States under other immigration status provisions, whrh are dis-
                        cussed in Refugee Admissions and Resettlement Policy (Mar 26, 1990) and A Brief History of I’S,
                        Immigration Policy (Congressional Research Service) (Nov. 25, 1988).



                        Page 6                                                      GAO/HRD90106BR        Soviet Refugees
Contents


Letter                                                                                              1

Refugees: Domestic                                                                                  6
Costs and Other        Admission of Refugees to the United States                                   6
                       Refugees Are Entitled to Financial Assistance and                            9
Factors That Affect        Services
Resettlement           Federal Assistance Has Diminished in the 1980s                            11
                       More Refugees Admitted From the Soviet Union                              12
                       Cost Estimates for Resettling Soviets Incomplete                          15
                       Views on Resettlement Capacity Vary                                       19

Appendixes             Appendix I: Principal Voluntary Agencies Involved in                      20
                           Refugee Assistance Programs
                       Appendix II: Major Contributors to This Briefing Report                   21

Related GAO Products                                                                            24

Table                  Table 1: Cash Assistance to Refugees (Fiscal Year 1988)                      18
                                                                                                -
Figures                Figure 1: Refugee Ceilings and Admissions                                    7
                            (Fiscal Years 198 l-90)
                       Figure 2: Ten States With Largest Refugee Populations                        8
                            (Fiscal Year 1988)
                       Figure 3: Resettlement Assistance-A Cooperative Effort                       10
                            Among Federal, State, and Local Governments and
                            Private Agencies
                       Figure 4: Emigration From the Soviet Union (1975-89)                         12
                       Figure 5: Refugee Arrivals From the Soviet Union                             13
                            (Fiscal Years 1982-88)
                       Figure 6: State of Initial Resettlement of Soviet Refugees                   16
                            (Fiscal Year 1988)
                       Figure 7: State Cash Assistance to Refugees as a                             17
                            Percentage of Total State AFDC Expenditures
                            (Fiscal Year 1988)
                       Figure 8: State Medical Assistance to Refugees as a                          18
                            Percentage of Total State Medicaid Expenditures
                            (Fiscal Year 1988)




                       Page 4                                        GAO/HRDWlO6BR   Soviet Refugees
5239117




As arranged with your office, unless you publicly announce its contents
earlier, we plan no further distribution of this report for 30 days from
its issue date. At that time, we will send copies to the Secretary of
Health and Human Services and other interested parties. Should you
have any questions concerning this report, please call me on (202) 275-
6193. Other major contributors to this report are listed in appendix II.




                                            J



Joseph F. Delfico
Director, Income Security Issues
                                e




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