PITTSFIELD REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT UPDATE
JEWISH FAMILY SERVICE
Of Western Massachusetts
Maxine Stein, MSW President & CEO
Deidre Griffen, JD New American Program Director
|We want to update you on the unpredictable unfolding of the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program during these tumultuous days. It is painfully apparent now that the program is expected to be much smaller than it has been in recent years, perhaps even smaller than at any time since it was created in 1980.
We anticipate a devastating decrease in the number of refugees to be welcomed to the United States in FY2018. Plummeting from the 2017 Presidential Determination of 110,000, the current “best case scenario” predictions are for 50,000 for the coming year. The Trump Administration’s attempts to impose a travel ban have severely hampered refugee resettlement efforts around the country; many of our colleague agencies have had to make the difficult choices of letting go of resettlement staff or closing their program doors completely.
In light of this reality, we are very disappointed to have to share the news that the U.S. Department of State has decided not to open Pittsfield as a resettlement site for FY2018. Our Springfield program will continue, but at a smaller scale.
In light of the fact that we will not be seeing any refugee families coming to Pittsfield in the near future, I think we can donate the goods we’ve collected to other local charities. I’ve gone ahead and divided the supplies in half, as equally as I could. I’m thinking half could go to Redfield House and the other half to Elizabeth Freeman. Please let me know if you have any concerns or other thoughts.
Board members were quite positive in their responses to this plan. Such an action would increase our visibility in the community. Conversations with the organizations’ leaders could be most positive and might be an opportunity to promote that we have space to rent and to make them aware of our seven principles.