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First Ithaca-bound refugees to arrive later this month

2017/02/15

This article was originally published on Ithaca.com

Catholic Charities of Tompkins/Tioga has announced the first family to come to Tompkins County through the agency’s refugee resettlement program is scheduled to arrive later this month.

“After months of preparation, Catholic Charities of Tompkins/Tioga (CCTT) was approved by the U.S. State Department last October as a Refugee Reception and Placement Site,” said Renee Spear, executive director of the agency. “We have recently gotten word through that we will soon be receiving a family from Afghanistan as the first people to be welcomed through our new program.”

This family is entering the U.S. under the Special Immigrant Visa program, intended for people who were employed by or on behalf of the United States government in Afghanistan or Iraq.  The rigorous process of obtaining SIV status is administered by the U.S. State Department, which issues these visas in very limited numbers, according to a news release.

“This is a different immigration status than people who have been vetted and designated as refugees by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees,” said Sue Chaffee, director of Catholic Charities’ Immigrant Services Program. “However, once these SIV holders enter the U.S., they are welcomed and oriented to life in this country through refugee resettlement agencies like ours.”

In order to respect the privacy of this family and in recognition of the upheaval and trauma they have experienced, Chaffee said, the family’s name, address or further details about them will be made available to the public.  However the organization has been working closely with the Ithaca School District, local physicians’ offices, community organization Ithaca Welcomes Refugees and others to help ensure this family will have a “warm welcome and a smooth transition to our community.”

As for the future of the rest of the 50 refugees the charity has pledged to take in, the agency remains uncertain: A presidential executive order signed in late January suspended refugee resettlement in the U.S.  Last week, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a ruling from a lower federal judge blocking parts of the executive order, which allowed refugees who had advanced booking notices into the country again.  Because of the uncertainty of how further court cases will be decided or new executive orders will be worded, Catholic Charities staff, according to the release, is unable to predict the timing of any future resettlement of refugees.

Catholic Charities of Tompkins/Tioga has announced the first family to come to Tompkins County through the agency’s refugee resettlement program is scheduled to arrive later this month.

“After months of preparation, Catholic Charities of Tompkins/Tioga (CCTT) was approved by the U.S. State Department last October as a Refugee Reception and Placement Site,” said Renee Spear, executive director of the agency. “We have recently gotten word through that we will soon be receiving a family from Afghanistan as the first people to be welcomed through our new program.”

This family is entering the U.S. under the Special Immigrant Visa program, intended for people who were employed by or on behalf of the United States government in Afghanistan or Iraq.  The rigorous process of obtaining SIV status is administered by the U.S. State Department, which issues these visas in very limited numbers, according to a news release.

“This is a different immigration status than people who have been vetted and designated as refugees by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees,” said Sue Chaffee, director of Catholic Charities’ Immigrant Services Program. “However, once these SIV holders enter the U.S., they are welcomed and oriented to life in this country through refugee resettlement agencies like ours.”

In order to respect the privacy of this family and in recognition of the upheaval and trauma they have experienced, Chaffee said, the family’s name, address or further details about them will be made available to the public.  However the organization has been working closely with the Ithaca School District, local physicians’ offices, community organization Ithaca Welcomes Refugees and others to help ensure this family will have a “warm welcome and a smooth transition to our community.”

As for the future of the rest of the 50 refugees the charity has pledged to take in, the agency remains uncertain: A presidential executive order signed in late January suspended refugee resettlement in the U.S.  Last week, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a ruling from a lower federal judge blocking parts of the executive order, which allowed refugees who had advanced booking notices into the country again.  Because of the uncertainty of how further court cases will be decided or new executive orders will be worded, Catholic Charities staff, according to the release, is unable to predict the timing of any future resettlement of refugees.

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