Refugees in Charlotte, North Carolina

Since the mid-1990’s approximately 17,000 refugees have been resettled in Charlotte, North Carolina, initially assisted by our city’s two federally-contracted Refugee Resettlement Agencies: Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency (an affiliate of HIAS) and Catholic Charities.

Explore an interactive map and timeline at The Refugee Project to better understand the global refugee community, including where they’re from, where they’re going, and why they left.

It is truly not possible to present exact numbers of refugees who currently live in Charlotte because they arrive with legal resident status in our country, allowing them to move within our country freely, as can any resident.  Some leave to live with/near relatives elsewhere, others come here to live with/near refugee families thriving here.  And, after 5 years, all are eligible to become U.S. citizens and, if they do so, they become “naturalized citizens” and are no longer “counted” as part of the refugee population.

What is a refugee?

A refugee, as defined by Section 101(a)42 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) based on the United Nations 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocols relating to the Status of Refugees, is “a person who is unable or unwilling to return to their home country because of a well-founded fear of persecution due to race, membership in a particular social group, political opinion, religion, or national origin.”

The United Nations works in conjunction with national governments to find recipient nations for these individuals. The United States accepts thousands of refugees every year from around the world. Refugees are invited guests of the United States; they are legal permanent residents.

The current U.S. President is charged with making a “Presidential Determination on the Number of Refugees to be Admitted to the U.S.” at the end of each Federal Fiscal Year (Sept. 30); in the Fall of 2017, President Obama declared “The admission of up to 110,000 refugees to the United States during Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 is justified by humanitarian concerns or is otherwise in the national interest…

In each of the past few years, Charlotte has welcomed approximately 600-700 refugees.  Of these, 71% of the adults are working and contributing to the local tax base within six month or less of their arrival.  Refugees are initially employed in basic-skill, heavy-labor, and low-income jobs, often six days per week, on second- and third-shifts, and/or including weekends.  They are often employed in the following industries: manufacturing, retail warehouses, food production/packing, construction, or cleaning services.  Refugees have proven to be good, hard-working, and dependable employees.

More about the extreme vetting process for Syrian refugees…

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