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With thousands of refugees from other nations already in Utah and thousands more likely to arrive in coming years, it makes sense to establish a state-funded Office of Refugee Services.
In a draft report, a Refugee Working Group formed jointly by Governor Jon Huntsman and Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Carroon is recommending such an office. After months of study, the Working Group says the office is needed "to provide leadership in service coordination, policy review, accountability, advocacy, and resource development and management for essential services to refugees in the State of Utah."
Between 1983 and 2005, more than 15,000 refugees arrived in Utah. They are people who were forced to flee their home countries because of their race, religion or beliefs. They've come from Southeast Asia, the Balkans and Africa. A new group is arriving from Myanmar, and it's expected Iraqis will soon be coming.
While several local organizations working under the Refugee Act of 1980 have done a remarkable job of helping the refugees, broader, more effective coordination is needed. That, in KSL's view, is what an Office of Refugee Services would bring.
Since Utahns have a long tradition of welcoming these desperate refugees, it seems prudent to do what's necessary to assure their successful assimilation as members of our communities.