Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Catholic Charities Atlanta’s response to Syrian refugee crisis

Published November 26, 2015

The following statement was issued Nov. 20 by Catholic Charities Atlanta about its work with refugees and concern for safety of the public and resettlement.

ATLANTA—The recent events in Paris remind us how important it is to be vigilant in screening those who are allowed into our country.

Catholic Charities Atlanta (CCA) is concerned about the safety and legitimacy of those being placed in our communities. CCA is a grantee agency that receives refugees from many parts of the world, including the Middle East. We do this important work in answer to the Gospel call to welcome the stranger and care for the vulnerable.

It is important for us to reassure those in our communities that anyone resettled in Georgia has come through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program after extensive security checks and background screenings. This is not a fast process but one that can take months and even years to complete. If the Department of Homeland Security cannot approve someone for resettlement, then they are not allowed entry into the United States.

Catholic Charities Atlanta agrees with the position of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: “We urge public officials to avoid reactions that politicize the events in Paris, and to avoid misplaced blame that creates an atmosphere of fear. Instead, we urge public officials to stand in solidarity with Syrian refugees, who are themselves the victims of ISIS.”

 How do refugees come to the United States?

  • Refugee resettlement is administered by the United States Federal Government. The State Department along with the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and national intelligence agencies are responsible for carefully vetting refugees, an intensive process that can take up to 24 months. Refugees are approved by the State Department before being assigned to a Catholic Charities agency.
  • According to CWS, Inc. (Church World Service), “refugees are the single most scrutinized and vetted individuals to travel to the United States, undergoing more than seven security checks by intelligence agencies, including biometric tests, medical screenings and in-person interviews with Department of Homeland Security officials.”
  • More information on the government’s rigorous screening process can be found here:

What is Catholic Charities’ role in resettling refugees?

  • Catholic Charities does not fund the migration of refugees to the United States. Catholic Charities funds are used to provide food, shelter and other essential services to support those in need once they have passed a rigorous screening process and have been assigned to a Catholic Charities agency by the USCCB’s Office of Migration and Refugee Services (MRS).
  • Catholic Charities offers services to people of all faiths who are resettled in the United States. Catholic Charities agencies have been providing services to refugees and immigrants for more than 100 years. In 2014, Catholic Charities agencies nationwide helped nearly 70,000 individuals move toward self-sufficiency. Catholic Charities Atlanta has resettled 301 refugees thus far in 2015.