No one chooses to be a refugee. Refugees fled their home to escape persecution, war, genocide, extreme discrimination, and death. Catholic Charities San Antonio welcomes our refugee brothers and sisters to live a renewed life of dignity in safety and peace after years of suffering they may have endured.
The Reception and Placement Program and Refugee Support Services teams work together to provide a welcoming atmosphere for all newcomer and resettled refugees through the promotion of community integration, advocacy, education and the forging of new pathways that lead towards a life of self-sufficiency.
Services we Offer
• Reception and Placement program is the initial resettlement program that provides food, housing and basic needs for newly arrived refugees, interpreting and transportation to local offices for core services, school enrollment, acculturation counseling and follow-up services for 90 days. Local parishes, churches, community groups and individuals work side by side with our agency to enrich the resettlement process through volunteering giving their time and talents for the benefit of those in need.
• Match Grant provides direct assistance, employment, medical and case management services, and interpreting and transportation services up to 180 day in the US. Our resettlement program has been successful with assisting refugees to achieve early self-sufficiency within six months after arriving to the U.S. through obtaining jobs. Each federal dollar that is spent is matched by 50% of non-federal dollars in the form of cash and in-kind services, and gifts.
• Refugee School Impact provides after school tutoring to refugee children, and services to promote graduation to the next school grade level.
• Refugee Support Services provides employment, education, social adjustment, and integration services, and Citizenship services for up to 5 years from date of arrival to the U.S. Supportive services include: referrals, interpretation, translation, childcare and transportation services.
• Cash and Medical Assistance, provides eligibility for cash assistance, distribution of cash and vender payments and refugee medical assistance applications.
• The Youth Mentoring program, an initiative conceived in the White House, focuses on serving youth from 15-24 yrs. of age with services to connect youth to educational case management services, and employment career pathways.
• Must be legally admitted to the United States as a refugee, asylee, Cuban entrant, victim of severe trafficking, or other population deemed eligible by the Health and Human Service Office of Refugee Resettlement.
• Must be within Office of Refugee Resettlement five-year eligibility period (from date of arrival in the US/date of asylum certification).
Catholic Charities has long held the notion that no one chooses to be a refugee. Refugees do not want to leave their home country, family, and culture if it were not for extreme poverty, violence, and religious persecution. Just like us, they want safety, purpose, and opportunity for themselves and their families.
While there has been a reduction in refugees resettling in the United States, San Antonio is welcoming them and their families, especially those with Special Immigrant Visas (SIV). Refugees in war torn countries that work with or cooperate with the US Military are granted SIVs. They typically serve with the US as interpreters, cooks, soldiers, and other supporting personnel. In this situation, SIVs are given priority refugee status although the application processing and approval can still take years.
Fnu Saifullah is a refugee from Afghanistan. He supported the US military as a cultural advisor supporting soldiers and administrators in communicating and collaborating with the local people to advance peace and progress in the country. In search of a peaceful home to live and opportunities for his children, Saifullah requested asylum in 2008 and moved to the United States in 2016 with his wife and four children.
Upon arriving in San Antonio, Catholic Charities Reception and Placement welcomed him and his family at the airport and immediately began to provide basic needs and support services to ensure self-sufficiency within six months. He said, “when we moved here, we started from zero. We didn’t know how to rent an apartment, how to enroll our children in school, or even how to drive. Catholic Charities helped us do all of this including getting vaccinations and getting a job. It was hard for my kids to know how to be with other kids in school, but they went every day and learned to speak English with the help of the Catholic Charities School Impact Program. They are doing so well in school and miss their teachers and friends now.”
Saifullah immediately accessed the opportunities afforded to him in America and pursued a degree from Texas A&M University in San Antonio receiving a Master of Business Administration. He has big plans for his future and that of his family. He continues, “I want to get work experience with the US State Department or Department of Defense to go back and help the people in my country. It would make me so happy to bridge our communities between Americans and the tribal elders so that we can build training capacity to identify education, government, and construction opportunities. Many people, both adults and children, do not have access to education because they would have to travel long distances to go to school. But I can help them.”
Saifullah’s life is no doubt different in America. It is not just about opportunity, but also about how he can enrich the lives of those around him and, someday, in his home country of Afghanistan. He adds, “It is very different here in America. I appreciate the freedom and respect for religion, culture, and ideas the most. It makes me happy that people support each other during difficult times. Most people want a better life. People in my home country do not have opportunities and I want the people in my home country to have it too. They deserve it.”