Ohio Ranks 6th in Number of Refugees Resettled


Ohio is ranked sixth in the nation in the number of refugees who came here between October 1, 2018 and September 30, 2019. States which accepted more refugees than Ohio include Texas, Washington, New York, California and Kentucky. Kentucky resettled 1,427 people to Ohio’s 1,426.

Of the 30,000 people who were relocated to the United States this past year, Ohio accepted 4.75% of them.

The United Nations Refugee Agency defines a refugee based upon the 1951 Refugee Convention, Article I, as

…someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.”

According to 2017 data from the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS), the majority of refugees in Ohio live in Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, Montgomery and Summit Counties. The ODJFS website states, “Refugees may be eligible for the Refugee Cash Assistance and Refugee Medical Assistance programs for the first eight months after they arrive. Depending on who is in the family group, refugees also may be eligible for other federal programs.”

“Refugees also are eligible for social services programs for up to five years, to help them become self-supporting as quickly as possible,” ODJFS writes. “Examples of refugee social services include job and language training, employment counseling, job placement, child care and transportation related to employment, citizenship training, and naturalization services.”

The number of refugees permitted may fall to an historic low next year. An AP report says the State Department has proposed a cap of 18,000 for 2020, and of that number 5,000 spots would be set aside for persecuted religious minorities.

Another change noted is from the President. “The White House issued a separate order that requires added consultation with states and localities about settlement of refugees in specific areas,” wrote the news service.

Pew Research Center has determined the United States is no longer the nation accepting the most refugees. “Until 2017, the U.S. resettled more refugees each year than the rest of the world’s countries combined,” Pew wrote.

The Ohio Star reached out to the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, asking from which counties this past year’s refugees had come. The numbers through the end of August reveal 59% are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 16% are from Ukraine, 7% from Eritrea, 6% from Afghanistan and 4% from Burma. The remaining refugees came from Belarus, Bhutan, Burundi, Canada, Colombia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Honduras, India, Iraq, Liberia, Nepal, Pakistan, Palestine, Russia, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Uganda and Uzbekistan.

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Beth Lear is a reporter at The Ohio Star.  Follow Beth on Twitter.  Email tips to [email protected].







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