Immigration & Refugee Services of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York has been selected as one of four lead agencies by the U.S. government to coordinate the resettlement of Ukraine refugees in the metropolitan area. The agency has also been awarded $220,000 from the New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigration Affairs to assist the effort.
While the designations are a recognition of the work of the agency, Kelly Agnew-Barajas, Director of Refugee Resettlement, said that more resources are needed to help resettle what is expected to eventually be 15,000 refugees in the New York-New Jersey region, among the millions displaced after Russia invaded Ukraine in February.
“We need more, much more,” said Agnew-Barajas.
Catholic Charities has a long history in refugee resettlement, including assisting with the resettlement of refugees from Afghanistan last year.
Agnew-Barajas said the agency has a leg up in the latest crisis, with two long-term Ukrainian-born staffers assisting their fellow nationals. Catholic Charities has also been active in meeting with Ukrainian-Americans at local churches and cultural centers, enlisting support for the effort. The agency hopes to soon get a piece of the $900 million allocated by the U.S. Congress for assistance in Ukrainian resettlement.
The process for accepting Ukrainian refugees has been streamlined. Refugees with sponsors have been given permission to stay here for two years.
There are more than a million people of Ukrainian ancestry in the U.S., according to the 2019 census. The Ukrainian community in New York City is the largest in the U.S., with a community of at least 100,000. The Biden Administration has committed to welcome at least 100,000 Ukrainians to the U.S.
The other three NYC-based resettlement agencies are HIAS-NY, CAMBA and The International Rescue Committee. In addition to official resettlement agencies, other agencies are engaged in responding to the needs of the Ukrainian community. These include Razom for Ukraine, Shorefront Y, and the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG.)