by Max Brantley
The following statement by Patrick Gallaher, Executive Director for Catholic Charities of Arkansas, is in response to numerous inquiries today about the refugee resettlement services provided by the Diocese of Little Rock.
“Since the mid-1970s, the Diocese of Little Rock, through Catholic Charities of Arkansas, has helped to resettle refugees. Currently, refugees approved by the U.S. Department of State can be referred to Arkansas for resettlement. If the refugees are assigned to Catholic Charities, they are welcomed upon arrival and assisted with the resettlement process, which includes help with learning English, obtaining housing, finding a job, and learning about American culture.
Catholic Charities has the capacity to serve only a small number of refugees each year, but is open to resettling refugees from almost any place in the world, including Syria. No refugees from Syria have been helped by Catholic Charities in the past year, and there has been no indication to date from the government that any cases of Syrian refugees in the future will be assigned to Arkansas. In the past 12 months, Catholic Charities has assisted in the resettlement of 14 refugees with varying backgrounds.
Normally, people seek refugee status by applying to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). If approved, the case is forwarded to a receiving country, such as the United States. At that point, the United States vets the applicant for security purposes, a process that takes up to a year. Only then is the refugee accepted for resettlement in the United States.”