Posted: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 12:28pm Updated: Wed, 05/12/2021 - 12:42pm

In the Refugee Act of 1980, P. L. No. 96-212, Congress codified and strengthened the United States’ historic policy of aiding individuals fleeing persecution in their homelands. The Refugee Act of 1980 provided a formal definition of "refugee:"

"Any person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality or, in the case of a person having no nationality, is outside any country in which such person last habitually resided, and who is unable or unwilling to return to, and is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of, that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion."

The Refugee Act provided the foundation for the development of an Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) within the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C. ORR's mission is to assist refugees and other special populations, in obtaining economic and social self-sufficiency in their new homes in the United States.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement established the Refugee Children School Impact Grant Program that provides for some of the costs of educating refugee children incurred by local school districts in which significant numbers of refugee children reside. School districts use the grant to fund activities that will lead to the effective integration and education of refugee children. These funds may not be used to supplant other Federal resources.

  • Eligible Populations: School-age refugees between the ages of 5 and 18 years of age.
  • Countries of Refugee Students’ Origin: Somalia, Liberia, Congo, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Afghanistan, Thailand, Laos, Burma.

Materials for New Immigrants

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIG) has several new products available for new immigrants:

  • "Welcome to the United States: A Guide for New Immigrants" is a comprehensive booklet on rights & responsibilities, getting settled in the U.S., education & childcare, emergencies & safety, and U.S. government. It is available in a variety of languages.
  • "USCIS Civics Flash Cards" help immigrants learn about U.S. history and government in preparation for the naturalization exam.

These resources may be ordered through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigrant Services website or by calling (201) 272-1310

Online Resources

Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) provides resources to assist refugees in becoming integrated members of American society.

The United Nations Refugee Agency leads and co-ordinates international actions to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide.