A Story that Resonates with me:
Recently, I came across a new story on the Ukrainian crisis in the news. This Summer, I worked at the International Rescue Committee and happened to organize many of the efforts related to Ukraine at the office. I worked closely with IRC Tallahassee’s one and only Ukrainian client and learned quite a bit about the Uniting for Ukraine program. The article I came across explained the reality of the U4U program and how it is not all it is made out to be. This resonates with me as I found out the grim reality of the program through my work and research for the International Rescue Committee. As the article says, the process is made to be simple and quick, but there are consequences when plans are not well thought out. The Uniting for Ukraine program guarantees speedy entry into the United States but once the Ukrainian parolee arrived, they are subjected to slow processes. The article emphasizes the uncertainty regarding every aspect of the program, including sponsors, paperwork, employment, social security cards, time frames, and pathways for green cards and citizenship. Many Ukrainian refugees that have come to the United States with high expectations after such a fast entry process have been met with disappointment as nothing has been planned beyond entry into the country.
Resettlement agencies, like the International Rescue Committee, are left scrambling to figure out how to handle Ukrainian clients with little to no guidelines available. From my own experience, the guidelines that were released were of no help either as they were contradictory and vague. There is only one Ukrainian family that is served by the International Rescue Committee in Tallahassee for a reason: the agency does not have the capacity to serve any more clients, and due to new regulations, they are not allowed to take any more Ukrainian clients. It is baffling that despite the U4U program admitting many Ukrainians into the U.S., agencies like the International Rescue Committee in Tallahassee cannot serve them. Not only can IRC Tallahassee not serve them, but the one Ukrainian family they do serve cannot even be offered equivalent treatment and services that other clients receive due to regulations, as well.
I suspect that there has been little research done into the U4U program, and so it remains to be seen as a completely positive opportunity. News stories choose to focus on the bigger picture and sensationalized headlines, instead of focusing on the real consequences. The program needs to be improved quickly, or people need to be made more aware of its consequences before they make a decision.
This Summer I interned at the International Rescue Committee in Tallahassee, a refugee resettlement agency in the U.S. I worked with both the Resource Development Program and the Refugee Resettlement Program. My time in the Refugee Resettlement program sparked my interest in how caseworkers approach helping refugee clients. I sought to understand their perspectives, methods, and issues they have when assisting clients. I utilized a combination of observations and interviews to conduct research on the topic. For my project, I interviewed two caseworkers from different programs at the IRC and one case aid. I hope to gain a comprehensive insight into the lives of refugees and caseworkers through my research. By conducting my research from a caseworker’s perspective, I seek to craft a well-rounded project that evaluates the experiences and interactions of all parties involved in the refugee resettlement process.