The number of refugees coming from other nations to settle in Iowa dropped dramatically after September 11th, and hasn’t yet returned to normal levels. Wayne Johnson, chief of Iowa’s Bureau of Refugee Services, says the refugee program must be re-approved each year by the President. After September 11th, it was pushed back until the end of the year. Johnson says in each of the past five years the state’s averaged 15-hundred refugees. Once arrivals resumed, he says there were lots of added security conditions. John explains there hasn’t been enough time or money to fingerprint and check a lot of would-be refugees. Iowa gets most of its refugee immigrants from just a few places in the world. He says the vast majority from overseas have been Bosnians the past five years, second-most from the Sudan in Africa, and just a few from Vietnam. Johnson says very, very few refugees have come to Iowa from the Mideast. The Refugee Services bureau is not affected by Iowa’s budget problems, since it’s federally funded, but Johnson says it cooperates with social-services agencies that are being cut.He adds private agencies also have problems because they’re paid for refugee aid per capita, and get less with dwindling numbers. Johnson says scaling back the system that takes in refugees could prove a big loss if there’s some big world conflict, like the war in Kosovo, from which the U-S wants to take a great number of refugees all at once. If there’s an immediate need to act, and the infrastructure is gone, he says foreign-policy initiatives will be handicapped.
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