Refugee Act of 1980 was passed

  • States were repaid for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), and Medicaid up to 36 months.
  • Refugees were eligible for Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA)/Refugee Medical Assistance (RMA) for up to 36 months.


Downward spiral begins

  • In an effort to combat the dependency rate, eligible support period was cut to 31 months, causing the official dependency rate calculation to rise.
  • Matching Grant (MG) funding levels were reduced from $1,000 to $957.


Short term refocusing

  • RCA/RMA funding was limited to 12 months.


Celebrating failure

  • George H. W. Bush signs a proclamation to celebration the first-ever “World Refugee Day”.
  • RCA/ RMA support was cut to 8 months.


Attempts made

  • Refugees in the state of Washington successfully filed suit against ORR, claiming that rapid cuts were unlawful. Judge sides with refugees and forces 8 month cuts into temporary status.


Reinforced status quo

  • In July, ORR changed guidelines so that the 8-month reduction was made permanent. New rules also made it easier for future reductions to be made if ORR so chose.


Welfare cuts hamper refugee assistance

  • Welfare reform was signed into law by Bill Clinton. ORR invested $10 million to ensure refugees still had access to funds across the country. Meanwhile, Texas began massive reductions, which would eventually fall far below a livable threshold for those relying on assistance.


Refugee health struggles

  • A sample of refugees who had arrived up to five years prior showed that an average of 22.3% had no health coverage in the last 12 months.


Terrorism halts resettlement

  • The number of arrivals was dramatically cut and tens of thousands of pre-approved refugees could not enter following 9/11.
  • Victims of human trafficking were made eligible for RCA/ RMA.


Special Immigrant Visas are given

  • Arrivals who worked with US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan were finally granted special permission to enter after years of waiting.


Modern Challenges

  • SIV’s began qualifying for full benefits including services available beyond 8 months
  • In a sample of refugees who arrived up to five years prior, an average of 29.8% had no health coverage in the last 12 months.


Refugee Assistance Amendments of 1982

  • RCA/RMA Period was cut to 18 months.
  • Policy changes made based on anecdotally reported "welfare dependency":
    • Full-time students in institutions of higher education were no longer eligible to receive cash assistance.
    • Assistance was terminated for refugees who refused jobs deemed appropriate by the resettlement agency staff.


Cuts justify further cuts

  • State reimbursements were cut to 24 months, bringing up the dependency rate from 49.7% to 52.1%.


The democratic-led Senate and House give birth to “Rapid Employment”

  • New rules limited state reimbursements to 4 months, and agencies were informed that RCA appropriations would not be sufficient to cover 12 months. In an unprecedented move, Congress failed to approve a single penny of the $16 million proposed budget for refugee education.
  • Meanwhile, “The Dire Emergency Supplemental Act” sent $6 million to help arrivals who came a decade prior to the politically valuable electorate in Miami, Flordia. MG funding, utilized mostly for European Jewish communities, increased to prior levels of $1,000.
  • “Dependency Rate” calculations were no longer taken, since they functionally hit 100%.


Near-sighted vision

  • Resettlement and placement contracts, which had previously paid for 90 days of assistance, were reduced to be delivered in its entirety within 30 days.
  • New guidelines were made for delivering ESL, which stipulated that education could not be given prior to employment. In other words, jobs which could be given without English proficiency must be pursued and lack of English could not be used to delay immediate employment.
  • New reporting guidelines were put into place in order to measure outcomes of rapid employment.


Asylee eligibility

  • Asylees became eligible to receive RCA/ RMA assistance after policy changes begin counting their eligibility period from the day in which they were approved, rather than the day they arrived. Previously, those policies, along with long wait times for approval, prevented asylum-seekers from getting assistance.


Lonestar goes rogue

  • Texas officially withdrew from refugee resettlement program, leaving nonprofits to build a new structure for one of the largest resettlement destinations in the world.