you should know me

Idaho refugee students tell their stories

Refugees 101


Who are refugees?

The U.S. definition of a refugee is: "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." 

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Who are asylum seekers?

Asylum seekers are people who are in the US, or are received at a point of entry into the US who cannot or will not return to their country of origin due to fear of persecution. Like refugees, the fear of persecution must be based on the asylee’s race, nationality, political opinions or membership in a particular social group. Asylum seekers undergo the process of legalization while in the U.S.

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Where do refugees come from?

Refugees come to our community from all over the world.

The top five countries of origin for refugees resettled in Idaho in 2018 are Congo, Iraq, Syria, Bhutan and Afghanistan. Learn more here.

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How are refugees resettled in the U.S.?

Read about the security screening process here.

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Do refugees choose their resettlement city?

Refugees do not choose their resettlement city. Unless there is a family member they are reunifying with, refugees are subject to the process of resettlement on the national level and have no choice where they are initially settled. They are, however, able to move from their initial resettlement city to another one should they choose to.

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What services are provided by the resettlement programs?

Services provided depend on whether the person in question is a refugee, asylee, or secondary migrant. Learn more here.

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Where can I find more info about English Language Learners?

The National Center for Family Literacy has many resources on their website, including information regarding Culture and English Language Learners, Principles of Adult Learning, Working with Adult Literacy Learners, and Working with Refugee Families. Visit their website.

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Idaho entered the refugee resettlement arena in 1975, when Governor John Evans established the Indochinese Refugee Assistance Program in response to the need for all states to participate in the resettlement of refugees fleeing the overthrow of U.S. supported governments in Southeast Asia. The Refugee Act of 1980 was passed to set up systems to deal with the increasing number of refugees from Vietnam, and other countries of the world. In Idaho, the process of resettlement became more formalized under this Act.

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How long have refugees been resettling in Idaho?


Who works with refugees in Idaho?

Idaho has three resettlement agencies: two in Boise, and one in Twin Falls. Beyond those agencies, a number of partner programs exist in Idaho to help refugees integrate and succeed in our communities. Learn about them here.

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How are refugee service agencies connected in Idaho?

The relationships between refugee service agencies in Idaho are best reflected in this organizational chart

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A project of the Idaho Office for Refugees