Refugee Services Program

Refugee Services

Quick Facts

Director: Hiram A. Ruiz
Phone: (305) 377-5683
Fax: 305-377-5399

General Information:

  • 100% federally funded.
  • Largest refugee population in the nation - Based on state data, over the last 5 years (FFY 2007-2011), 137,665 eligible refugees, entrants, asylees, parolees, and Certified Victims of Human Trafficking arrived to Florida.  This includes federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) adjustments due to secondary migration from other states to Florida and from Florida to other states.
  • Resettlement of refugees is governed by federal law - Refugee Act of 1980, Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980, Regulated at 45 Code of Federal Regulations Part 400 and 401, 409.953, F.S.  Admission to the U.S. of other categories of persons eligible for Refugee Services is also governed by Federal laws and policies.

Eligible Clients: Eligibility for programs of Refugee Services is determined by federal law and includes the following:   

  • Refugees are individuals who have been forced to flee their home country due to persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution. Refugees are granted status before they arrive in the United States.
  • Advance Parolees is a term used to describe Cuban nationals who are granted advance permission to enter the United States through the parole authority of the Department of Homeland Security as agreed in the U.S. - Cuba Accords.
  • Cuban/Haitian Entrants is a term used to describe Cuban and Haitian nationals who enter the United States and are granted a parole upon entry, apply for asylum, or are in removal proceedings.
  • Asylees are persons already in the United States who, due to persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution in their home country, apply for and are granted asylum by asylum officers or immigration judges in the United States.
  • Afghan and Iraqi Special Immigrants (SIV) are Iraqi and Afghani nationals who worked with the U.S. military and who were granted special immigrant status.
  • Victims of Human Trafficking (VOT) are individuals who, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion, have been forced to perform a commercial sex act, or have been subjected to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

Florida's Refugee Population
Cuba is the country of origin of most refugee clients in Florida; however, Florida’s refugees come from 97 different home countries, including Haiti, Burma, Iraq, Venezuela, Colombia, Bhutan, Eritrea, Zaire, and Sudan.  Refugees resettle primarily in Miami-Dade County with significant populations in Hillsborough, Broward, Duval, Palm Beach, Orange, Pinellas, and Collier Counties.

Florida's Population over Five Years
The following chart reflects clients entering Florida each federal fiscal year.  The Department’s website also includes data for the Refugee Services Program on additional clients accessing services tracked by their date of entry into the U.S.

Year Refugees Advance Parolees Cuban/Haitian Entrants Asylees SIV VOT Total
2007 3,243 6,193 17,582 1,859 - - 28,877
2008 4,242 6,270 14,092 2,111 - 40 26,755
2009 5,376 9,726 10,450 2,038 16 13 27,619
2010 4,757 6,974 14,072 1,331 56 20 27,210
2011 3,332 7,776 14,736 1,329 21 10 27,204
TOTAL 20,950 36,939 70,932 8,668 93 83 137,665

Services to Refugees:

  • Refugee Services currently manages 70 refugee service provider contracts and funds refugee cash assistance totaling approximately $83,671,618 (SFY 2010-11 operating budget) in federal aid to eligible clients.  Refugee Services programs are provided through contracts with local governments and community based organizations in communities where large refugee populations are located.
  • Refugee Services served an estimated unduplicated client count of 59,583 individuals in FFY 2011 with 9,419 obtaining unsubsidized employment in FFY 2011.

Services include:

Employment Integration Assistance
Adult Education including English language Primary Health Care (Miami-Dade)
Employability/Legal Youth and Family Services
Child Care Epilepsy Case Management
Crime Prevention Unaccompanied Refugee Minors


                    Refugee Cash Assistance   $15,231,735
                    Local Services            $64,742,633
                    Repatriated  Americans        $40,380
                    Administrative             $3,656,870
                    Total                     $83,671,618