Sharp decrease in refugee arrivals causes Austin non-profit to end program

A local refugee resettlement program in Austin plans on closing its doors.

According to a message from the Executive Director of Caritas of Austin the program has been shrinking from the drastically reduced number of arrivals.

Refugee Services of Texas Area Director Susan Stasney said about 76 refugee resettlement agencies have closed their doors nationwide. "Our numbers have plummeted last year we resettled 585 refugees in the Austin community and this year we are at 220," said Stasney. "Last year we had refugees from 17 countries and this year we have refugees from four countries so the diversity and the numbers have diminished." Stasney said the low enrollment has directly impacted not only refugee agencies but the workforce in Austin as well.

"Mostly the hotel, factory and the restaurant industry, said Stasney. “They've been asking us for more clients for their businesses but we can't provide."

The Secretary of State earlier this month President Trump's plans to cap the number of refugees resettled next year to an all-time low of 30,000. Stasney fears resources for refugees will become even more scarce.

In the letter Caritas Executive Director Jo Kathryn Quinn stated even though they won't be accepting new arrivals they'll continue to work with refugees living on employment support until January.

Stasney said RST will be able to assist any clientele who has arrived for a 5-year period.