WATCH: 'Understanding the Refugee Process' by WNED

Jul 24, 2018

You don't have to look very far on social media to see misinformation about refugees or the vetting process for entering the United States. WNED | WBFO wants to help clear that up.

As Western New York welcomes refugee and immigrant families from across the world, it’s essential to develop a better understanding of our shared opportunities and challenges.

Making Buffalo Home is an in-depth digital engagement initiative to inform and raise awareness of this topic for our entire community.

Watch the program here.

Senior Director for News and Public Affairs Dave Rosenthal hosted the first in a series of Facebook Live events for the project. He and three panelists explored the refugee process, while answering  questions the community has about the issue.

Some excerpts:

Karen Andolina Scott, Executive Director, Journey’s End Refugee Services: "One challenge for many refugees is learning a new language once they settle in America."

Scott said she hasn’t met a client who hasn’t tried to adapt to a new environment. “All of the clients who we serve are very appreciative and they are happy that somebody is giving them a chance to move on with their lives.”

Ali Kadhum, a refugee from Iraq, said one misconception is that many refugees are not skilled workers.

“Personally when I came here, I had a bachelor’s degree in education. I was a middle school teacher. I was a business owner back in Iraq," he said. "So we had a good life there.

"The majority of people had a good life, but we had a dictatorship in Iraq. Because of the war that started there, many people who worried about their family had to leave."

For refugees like Kadhum, the process to enter the country was thorough.

"It takes two years," he said. "There’s a security clearance, a medical checkup, there’s a lot of process. I remember almost 10 interviews. Each interview was from morning to evening."

Rick T. Su, professor at the University at Buffalo law school, said the current system gives a lot of discretion to government agencies that do the processing. That may be contributing to the slowdown in the number of refugees coming to the U.S.

“We may learn later on whether or not the extra vetting or the slowdown is for a good cause and we’ve had that happen before. Definitively after 9/11,” he said.