Press Release

State of Florida
Department of Children and Families
Rick Scott

David E. Wilkins

June 19, 2012

MEDIA CONTACT: John Harrell,
(904) 723-5470/(904) 233-7792

There Are 15 Million Refugees Worldwide; Only 1 Percent Get Resettled, Many Are Unable To Return Home
Twenty People To Become U.S. Citizens During Jacksonville Event, Including Several Refugees
U.S. State Department Representative To Be Keynote Speaker At Jacksonville Event

JACKSONVILLE, FLA. – The growing number of refugees around the world is becoming a major issue. Refugees are people who have had to flee from dangerous and violent situations in their home countries. They have been at risk of persecution due to their religion, race or political opinion.

To draw attention to the living situations of refugees throughout the world, the Jacksonville Area Refugee Task Force is holding a World Refugee Day Celebration and Naturalization Ceremony on Wednesday, June 20th at 10 a.m. at the Jacksonville Public Library's Main Library, 303 North Laura Street in Downtown Jacksonville.

As part of the ceremony, 20 people, including several refugees, will be sworn in as new U.S. citizens. They come from countries including Syria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ethiopia, Russia and more. Additionally, the U.S. State Department's Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Dr. Reuben E. Brigety II, will serve as keynote speaker for this event.

Featured guests include Department of Children and Families Northeast Florida Regional Director David Abramowitz and DCF Refugee Services Director Hiram Ruiz. The event is being held by the Jacksonville Area Refugee Task Force.

In Jacksonville, more than 2,100 refugees have arrived here over the past two years. The State Department has sent refugees to Jacksonville because we have a welcoming community. We have also had good success placing refugees in jobs and in refugees gaining self-sufficiency.

DCF helps refugees by providing them with food stamps, refugee cash assistance and Medicaid for their first eight months in this country. After that time, they may continue to receive food stamps if they qualify. The Department's Refugee Services program also gets federal funds for employment assistance, adult education, integration assistance case management and other services.

The United States Refugee Admission Program (USRAP) is a highly successful example of public-private partnership, where federal assistance is supplemented by funds raised by communities across the country. Refugees have opened businesses, revitalized neighborhoods and become productive members of communities that welcomed them.