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In Depth: Economy may impact resources for refugees coming to Utah

In Depth: Economy may impact resources for refugees coming to Utah



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International refugees are pouring into Utah at a rate the state hasn't seen in a long time, and resettlement officials say they worry the resources they need to help those refugees assimilate may dwindle due to the bad economy.

The workers at Catholic Community Services haven't been this busy since Sept. 11.

Immigration and Refugee Resettlement Director Aden Batar said, "This year, we project we're going to get 500 refugees that are coming from different, I would say probably 13 different nationalities."

Batar says the majority of this year's refugees are coming from Myanmar and Bhutan, and they have very large group of Iraqis coming to the U.S. this year.

"We have about… Catholic Community Services has resettled about 100 of them, and we expect more to come," he said.

Batar says these refugees need a lot of help with housing and employment and need goods and services to get their lives in the U.S. started.

They do get some help from the federal government, but Batar said, "The government doesn't fund adequately to this program, so we're always in need of community involvement to this program."

So far, the center is getting similar donations to what it has received in the past, but officials don't think that will last long.

Center Marketing Director Kathryn Brussard said, "We do expect that the overall amount may decrease just because everyone's hurting right now."

Although the name of the center is Catholic Community Services, Brussard says more than just Catholics are chipping in.

"Donations to Catholic Community Services come from across the community, and one of our biggest supporters is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

She says the center never really has enough to go around, though, even when times are good. She also says a lot of people confuse their refugees with illegal immigrants.

"By being given ‘refugee status,' they are given a green card. They have all the opportunities of any American citizen, except the right to vote," she explained.

Center officials say they have a dire need for children's clothes for the winter, as well as baby supplies.

E-mail: pnelson@ksl.com

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Paul Nelson

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