Local refugee resettlement group Jewish Family Services of Delaware says it’s unlikely more refugees will be coming to the First State this year.
The State Department has advised resettlement agencies the U.S. will allow entry for refugees with travel plans through the end of the day today, Wednesday July 12th.
That’s when this fiscal year's cap for 50,000 refugees will be met – according to a State Department spokesperson. After that, only refugees with what the Supreme Court calls a “bona fide relationship” with a U.S. person or entity will be allowed to enter the country.
Sarah Green with Jewish Family Services of Delaware says there’s only one Iraqi man in the pipeline to resettle in Delaware with that “bona fide relationship” – his wife lives in Delaware.
“But he’s been in our pipeline since January and he hasn’t come, so there’s clearly something that’s holding his case up," Green said. "So it doesn’t seem likely that he would come through at this time.”
According to HIAS – he has a “must travel date” of January 11th of next year. After that, his current resettlement documents will expire.
JFS was slated to resettle 60 people this year, but only 20 have been resettled in the First State since January.
“We will probably have to scale back the program," Green said. "And we definitely won’t be getting anywhere close to our projected numbers for the fiscal year.”
One family that resettled in the First State earlier this year – a Ukrainian family – also had close family ties. But a Pakistani couple that arrived in February only had friends in Delaware – a relationship that wouldn’t be considered “bona fide” if they tried to come now.
Green and other resettlement groups argue they provide a “bona fide” link between refugees and the community.
“We’re definitely connecting them," Green said. "It’s a really great community that rallies around these families. For example, one of the families came with a young baby and now she’s turning one. And that community is throwing her a big first birthday party. So they’re definitely connected and we’re not leaving them on their own.”
There’s still no word of travel plans for seven families still in the pipeline to resttle in Delaware. Among those seven cases is the Iraqi man with bona fide U.S. tie and an Afghan national employed by the U.S. government on a Special Immigrant Visa, or SIV. SIV holders aren’t considered refugees and are exempt from the Supreme Court decision, and the fiscal year cap on refugees. Other families in the First State resettlement pipeline are from Syria and Eritrea.
Timeline of 2017 refugee arrivals to Delaware:
January: a Ukrainian family of four arrived
February: a Syrian family of three and a Pakistani couple arrived
March: an Afghan family of four arrived
April - May: no refugees arrived in Delaware
June: Seven Eritrean refugees from two families arrived