Sandoval Response to Questions About Refugee Resettlement Programs-Updated with response from President Obama Adminstration

CARSON CITY, NV - November 17, 2015

Governor Brian Sandoval released the following statement today in response to questions about refugee resettlement programs.

“Like many of my fellow governors, I am concerned first and foremost with the security of my state in the aftermath of Friday’s tragic events in Paris. It is in the interest of all Nevadans and the millions who travel to our state annually to insist on extensive evaluations of any potential risk individuals may pose to Nevada or our national security. Earlier today, I asked state agencies to help determine the total number of refugees currently in Nevada. I have also contacted the White House and will follow up with a letter to President Obama requesting a review of the refugee eligibility, security, funding and notification processes for resettlement programs conducted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U. S. State Department and related agencies. We must balance our nation's role as an international leader with the safety and security of our citizens and visitors.”

Background on the Federal Process:

The United States State Department is responsible for the overarching coordination and management of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP), including the decision on which refugees around the world are granted access to the USRAP for resettlement consideration. The United States Department of Homeland Security, through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) works in close partnership with the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM), and is responsible for conducting individual, in-person interviews with applicants to determine their eligibility for refugee status, including whether they meet the refugee definition and are otherwise admissible to the United States under U.S. law. The United States Department of Health and Human Services/Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) helps provide assistance to resettled refugees after they arrive in the United States.

All refugees of all nationalities considered for admission to the United States undergo intensive security screening involving multiple federal intelligence, security and law enforcement agencies, including the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense, in order to ensure that those admitted are not known to pose a threat to our country.

Additional information can be found on the USCIS website at

Applicants to the USRAP are currently subject to the highest level of security checks of any category of traveler to the United States. These include biometric (fingerprint) and biographic checks, and a lengthy in-person overseas interview by specially trained USCIS officers who scrutinize the applicant’s explanation of individual circumstances to ensure the applicant is a bona fide refugee and is not known to present security concerns to the United States.

Upon arrival at the port of entry, arriving refugees are inspected again by United States Customs and Border Protection prior to their admission. Refugees are eligible to work once admitted to the United States and are required to apply for adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident one year after arrival.

Non-governmental organizations provide initial reception and placement services to arriving refugees under cooperative agreements with the State Department. After 30 days, HHS’ Office of Refugee Resettlement takes over the responsibility for administering assistance programs from the State Department.

HHS’s role in refugee resettlement begins after individuals and families arrive in the United States. From the date of arrival, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) at HHS provides short-term cash and medical assistance to new arrivals, as well as case management services, English as a Foreign Language classes, and job readiness and employment services – all designed to facilitate refugees’ transition in the U.S., and help them to attain self-sufficiency. ORR supports additional programs to serve all eligible populations beyond the first eight months post-arrival, including micro-enterprise development, ethnic community self-help, agricultural partnerships, and services for survivors of torture.


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