Guest / Limited Access /

The stream of African refugees to the United States has slowed to a trickle, but the number of refugees from Iraq and Burma has recently exploded. For U.S. resettlement ministries, that change requires adapting to new crosscultural challenges.

Under strong domestic and international pressure, the U.S. accepted more than 12,000 Iraqi refugees between October 2007 and October 2008. The country let in only 1,608 the previous year, the Department of Homeland Security says. But unlike most refugees, Iraqis must at first adjust to a lower standard of living.

World Relief works with local churches to resettle refugees in 23 U.S. cities. The government gives it and like organizations $850 for each refugee. Half of that goes for case management, the other half for direct settlement aid. Since many Iraqi refugees are doctors, professors, and other educated professionals, the amount falls far short of expectations, said Barbara Cocchi, south regional director for World Relief's U.S. ministries arm.

"They expect new furniture, new clothes; they expect more than almost any other refugee group we've had," she said. "And because their culture is an in-your-face, demand culture, it doesn't always go over well here."

Burmese refugees have also been flooding the country after a change in government policy. A clause in the Patriot Act prohibited admitting refugees who had given "material support" to terrorists, even involuntarily or indirectly. The clause was defined so broadly, Cocchi said, it automatically excluded foreign nationals who most needed to claim refugee status.

In December, the Department of Homeland Security began approving exemptions from the clause so that those forced to aid certain groups could still claim refugee status. Ten ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedMosul Christian: Thanks for Changing Your #WeAreN Photo
Mosul Christian: Thanks for Changing Your #WeAreN Photo
Believers in Iraq rally around label that forced them out of their homes and churches.
TrendingNine Current Mars Hill Pastors Tell Mark Driscoll To Step Down from All Ministry
Nine Current Mars Hill Pastors Tell Mark Driscoll To Step Down from All Ministry
(UPDATED) Mars Hill responds Friday to leaked letter, says 'our team is Jesus, not one group of elders or another.'
Editor's PickDesire and Deliverance
Desire and Deliverance
Three new documentaries examine Christian faith, homosexuality, and the question of change.
Comments
Christianity Today
The New Refugees
hide thisNovember November

In the Magazine

November 2008

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.