Minnesota charity cuts refugee program amid slowdown

Published 8:21 am Friday, May 4, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS — An influential charity in Minnesota is dropping its refugee resettlement programs as the state sees a significant slowdown in refugees arriving under President Donald Trump’s administration.

Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis announced this week that it will shift its focus to programs aimed at homelessness and helping at-risk children, the Star Tribune reported .

“If we don’t adapt to the changing world, like any organization, we are going to be left behind,” said Tim Marx, the organization’s CEO. “This community needs Catholic Charities. That places a special responsibility on us to keep up to date, to keep moving and respond to new needs.”

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The new priorities were driven by data analysis and research, Marx said.

The Trump administration increased security screening requirements and decreased the annual refugee arrival ceiling last year. Fewer than 950 refugees arrived in Minnesota last year, compared with more than 3,000 in 2016. Agencies get federal funding for refugees they resettle and the decrease in arrivals has caused many local organizations to make cuts.

Catholic Charities resettled less than 170 refugees last year. The organization plans to shutter its refugee resettlement program by late summer.

The move comes about a year after the charity’s adoption program ceased operations due to less participation.

“The numbers were small. We were down to five, six, seven adoptions a year,” said Laurie Ohmann, Catholic Charities Chief Operating Officer.

About 20 jobs will be cut because of the changes, Marx said.

The organization will now focus much of its efforts on St. Joseph’s Home for Children, where at-risk youth often go after being removed from their homes by police and social workers.