Senators Stabenow, Peters Introduce Bill to Increase Support for Michigan Refugees

Thursday, June 18, 2015

U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters today introduced the Domestic Refugee Resettlement Reform and Modernization Act (S.1615) to make sure Michigan gets critical funding needed to support refugee families who settle in Michigan. Under current law, if refugees move from one state to another, the resettlement assistance often does not follow them to their new location. This results in funding shortages in states with high numbers of refugees like Michigan.

"Michigan has long been a compassionate state, providing support for families who flee from persecution and violence in their own countries," said Stabenow. "This legislation will make sure that the resources follow these vulnerable families who settle in Michigan to the agencies providing the critical services they need."

"The United States has always been a beacon of hope and freedom for those fleeing oppression, and I'm proud to represent Michigan's diverse communities in the U.S. Senate," Peters said. "I'm glad to join Senator Stabenow in introducing legislation that will ensure that critical assistance is accessible for families fleeing persecution who settle in Michigan."

Senators Stabenow and Peters' bill revises the state funding formula used by the Office of Refugee Resettlement so that it accounts for future refugee arrivals and more accurately distributes funds to state resettlement offices. Under this bill, Michigan would receive more resources to serve the refugees and their families who settle in the state.

In addition to addressing this funding inequity, the bill requires the Office of Refugee Resettlement to expand its data collection to better address the challenges refugees face. It also helps refugees become independent by increasing access to job retraining. The bill is now pending before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Last year, more than 4,000 refugees resettled in Michigan.