Frequently Asked Questions
The questions and responses below describe the work we do at the International Institute of New England and provide information on how recent policy changes impact our mission.
The International Institute of New England (IINE) is a non-profit organization that provides humanitarian relief, education, skills training, job placement, family reunification and pathways to citizenship for 2,000 immigrants and refugees each year. We work in Boston and Lowell, Massachusetts, and Manchester, New Hampshire.
IINE is the oldest and second largest resettlement agency in the region and has the largest Central American family reunification program in Greater Boston. More than 500 refugees and immigrants enroll in our education programs annually, and each year we connect hundreds of new Americans to jobs in New England companies.
The International Institute is a leader in the creation of programs and services for new Americans. Our expertise comes from almost 100 years of welcoming immigrants from every region of the world and more than 40 years of resettling refugees in New England. IINE is one of the few immigrant service providers in the region that specializes in receiving and placing refugees in local communities.
With insights from the people and cities we serve, we have created skills training and education programming that prepares new Americans for employment opportunities in New England’s unique economy.
Our staff is the first to welcome newly arrived refugees at Logan or Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, we work closely with refugees in their first year in their new communities, and we provide a continuum of services to them during their first five years in the United States.
Building services for refugees has allowed us to become a content leader in human services for new Americans – both refugees and immigrants – at a time when the national debate over immigration is more intense than at any time in recent history.
There are compelling humanitarian, civic, and economic reasons for welcoming refugees and immigrants to New England.
Our region’s modest population growth, which is critical to the expansion of our economy, depends almost entirely on immigration. Approximately 28% of Boston’s population is foreign-born, and both New Hampshire and Massachusetts are in desperate need of people to work in a broad variety of industries. Growing the region’s and the U.S. economy requires the U.S. to admit more immigrants and refugees.
The growing diversity of our population is a great strength. New Americans embrace our values, are eager to contribute, and enrich local communities. With more refugees in the world than at any point in recent history, it is the responsibility of the United States, as a world leader, to welcome displaced people to our shores. If America does not lead during this crisis, who will?
It is a great privilege to welcome persecuted people from around the world to New England and to support them as they restart their lives in our communities. Those who work for the Institute, volunteer with us, provide financial support, and serve on our Advisory Councils and Board of Directors often are more enriched by the people we serve than they are by us. That is the privilege and beauty of our work.
The Institute provides a five-point continuum of care to new Americans that includes:
- Refugee Resettlement – We receive and place an average of 600 refugees each year in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Our work during a refugee family’s first 90 days in the U.S. involves preparing an apartment for each new arrival, receiving families at local airports, accompanying all family members to initial medical appointments, enrolling members in public benefits and health care plans, assisting families as they enroll their children in public schools, guiding refugees through a cultural orientation program, teaching them enough English to secure employment, and helping adults find good jobs.
- Case Management – IINE provides intensive support to refugees during their first year in the U.S., and we focus much of our efforts on helping all enrolled clients stabilize economically by preparing adults for employment and career advancement, lifelong financial management, and literacy and language skills. We have a unique emphasis on family reunification, including helping Central American families reunify with their children and assisting refugees as they petition for loved ones to join them in the United States.
- Literacy and Education – Our staff teaches vocational English to more than 500 new Americans each year, and our Boston site runs a Tier-1, multi-level evening English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program. We also provide support to refugee youth in Lowell and Manchester.
- Job Placement and Training – The Institute provides job training and placement services to approximately 700 refugees and immigrants each year, placing clients at nearly 150 companies in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
- Citizenship – We provide programs and services in Massachusetts and New Hampshire that help refugees and immigrants prepare for citizenship.
We serve Refugees, Aslyees, Victims of Human Trafficking, Cuban and Haitian entrants, Special Interest Visa holders, Central American children and families, and other immigrants in various statuses. Below is a definition of each category and the number of clients served by IINE in Fiscal Year 2017:
- Refugees – The Institute resettled 436 refugees in Fiscal Year 2017 and provided employment and case management services to another 643 refugees beyond the initial resettlement period. A refugee is someone living outside of his or her country of nationality who is unable or unwilling to return to that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution. Each refugee arrives in the U.S. with a refugee visa and is eligible to work and receive public benefits. After one year, refugees can adjust to lawful permanent status, and after five years, they are eligible for citizenship.
- Asylees – IINE served 103 asylees in Fiscal Year 2017. An asylee is someone who received the equivalent of refugee status by a court within the U.S. instead of overseas.
- Special Interest Visa Holders (SIVs) – Our team served 72 Special Interest Visa holders in FY2017. SIVs hold special visas for providing translation and other services to U.S. forces and government officials in Afghanistan and Iraq. The United States grants SIVs a green card upon their arrival.
- Cuban and Haitian Entrants – IINE served 151 Cuban and Haitian entrants in Fiscal Year 2017. In late 2016, President Obama ended the Cuban entrant program. The U.S. grants Haitian entrants parole status when they enter the country, meaning they may stay in the U.S. while they apply for asylum. They are eligible for many refugee services while they are on parole status.
- Central American Children and Families – IINE reunited 65 Central American minors with families in Greater Boston in FY2016 through our Central American Minor Affidavit of Relationship (AOR) and Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) programs. The federal government established the AOR program in 2014 to assist people fleeing violence in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. In many cases, parents left these countries years ago, found work in the United States, and sent money home to care for their children, who were often in the custody of grandparents. Many of the parents have Temporary Protective Status (TPS).
- Victims of Human Trafficking – IINE provided services to six Victims of Human Trafficking (VoTs) in FY17. The 2000 Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) authorizes the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to certify foreign national survivors of labor and sex trafficking, making them eligible for public benefits to the same extent as refugees.
- Immigrants of Various Statuses – IINE serves a wide variety of immigrants with different legal statuses. Many immigrants participate in our English and job training programs.
The International Institute of New England began in Lowell in 1919, and an office opened in Boston in 1924. A group in Manchester, New Hampshire started resettling refugees in the late 1970s, and in 1994, the three sites consolidated into a formal organization, which today is called the International Institute of New England. IINE’s central office is co-located with its Boston services in downtown Boston.
We are the oldest organization exclusively serving refugees and immigrants in New England. We welcomed Eastern Europeans in the 1920 and 30s, persecuted people fleeing Europe after World War II, displaced persons from the former Soviet bloc and Cuba in the 1950s and 60s, Cambodians and Vietnamese in the 1970s, and Central and South Americans and families from Asia, the Middle East and Africa during the past several decades.
People from all over the world have benefited from our services and graced our lives during the past century. We watch with pride as the people we serve make enormous contributions to civic and community life in New England.
In a year in which refugees and immigrants – and those who serve them – were under attack from many forces, IINE made a significant difference in the lives of 1,920 refugees and immigrants. We served more people in 2017 than the previous year, a sign of how much new Americans rely on our staff and services.
Our major accomplishments include:
- We resettled 436 refugees in 2017, representing 25% of all refugees resettled in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
- In FY16, we served 515 refugees in our English language programs.
- Since 2014, our English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program, offered in Boston, earned the highest rating – Tier 1 – from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).
- We provided job readiness services to 638 refugees and immigrants, 88% of whom found employment within six months.
- IINE graduated 68 students from our intensive vocational training programs and placed 80% of them within six months of completing the program. Graduates secured jobs that paid more than their previous positions, and they entered industries with opportunities for advancement.
- We operate the largest program in Greater Boston reuniting Central American children and their families. The work includes helping unaccompanied children reunite with their parents, as well as an Affidavit of Relationship program in which parents petition to bring family members to the United States through the U.S. Refugee Resettlement program. Last year, we reunited 65 unaccompanied Central American children with their families.
- In 2017, 332 people volunteered at IINE’s three offices, more than 2,000 people came to IINE events, including our new live storytelling show, Suitcase Stories, which helped educate people in New England about the lives of their refugee and immigrant neighbors.
The International Institute of New England derives 65% of its funding from public sources, and 35% is from private revenue streams, including fundraising. The refugee resettlement program in the United States is a “public-private partnership,” and groups like ours are expected to raise funds from individuals, foundations, and corporations to provide comprehensive services to our clients.
IINE’s central office located in Boston provides the three IINE field offices – Boston, Lowell, and Manchester, NH – with operational and administrative support including financial management, fundraising, contract execution and management, payroll, billing, accounts payable, general accounting, financial reporting, acquisitions requests, human resources management, program assistance and quality control. The structure allows field office staff to focus on providing high quality programming and services to clients. Staff in parallel site programming interact with each other frequently and attend common training programs.
General Refugee Resettlement & IINE Questions
Since 1975, the U.S. has admitted more than 3.3 million refugees, an average of 80,000 per year. From 2012 to 2015, the U.S. admitted 70,000 refugees per year, and in 2016, in response to the global refugee crisis, the U.S. admitted 85,000 refugees. President Obama raised the ceiling to 110,000 in FY17 because he wanted the U.S. to play a leadership role in a humanitarian crisis that has driven the number of refugees to 22.5 million worldwide, the most since the end of World War II. President Trump, however, suspended the program for four months in FY17 and reduced the number of refugees admitted to the U.S. In FY17 (October 1, 2016 through September 30, 2017), the United States admitted 53,716 refugees and 19,233 Special Interest Visa holders. President Trump determined that the United States would admit a maximum of 45,000 refugees in FY18 along with 10,000 Special Interest Visa holders. The 2018 ceiling on refugees is the lowest since the program began in 1980.
There are humanitarian and strategic reasons for the program, which the United States formally began in 1980. While not a stated purpose of the resettlement program, there are economic benefits to local communities that receive refugees.
Of the world’s 22.5 million refugees, 1.2 million are at extreme risk, or are seeking to join family members in other countries. Resettlement is available only to the most at-risk refugees whose safety cannot be assured by any government or non-governmental institution. In 2016, 72% of the refugees that came to the U.S. were women and children. Refugees are victims of rape and torture, religious persecution, terror, and political oppression. Resettled refugees also include those whose lives are at risk because they served the U.S. government in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Resettlement is also a diplomatic strategy of the U.S. government. By welcoming refugees, we help U.S. allies. For example, in Jordan, a key U.S. ally in the Middle East, one out of every six residents is a refugee. If the U.S. refuses to do is fair share, other countries may shutter refugee camps, causing more instability and turmoil throughout the world. Safe haven for those who support U.S. officials abroad is also critical to the safety of U.S. overseas personnel and the success of our foreign missions.
Economically, many areas of the U.S., particularly New England, need workers in all fields. Refugees work in all fields, including law enforcement, they pay taxes, purchase homes and start business. Like nearly all newcomers to the U.S., they are eager to work and contribute to the economy. A recent study showed that over a 20-year period, refugees who enter the country between the ages of 18 and 45 pay on average $21,000 more in taxes than they receive in public benefits.
In 2015 and 2016, IINE resettled 625 and 623 refugees, respectively. In 2017, due to the new President’s reduction of refugee admissions, the International Institute of New England resettled 434 refugees. In FY18, we anticipate resettling between 300 and 400 refugees and Special Interest Visa holders. Recently, refugees have come to New England from Bhutan, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Myanmar (Burma), Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan and Syria.
In our reception and placement program, our staff dedicates approximately 75 hours of case management time to each refugee. Services include welcoming each refugee family at either Manchester or Logan airport and escorting them to a furnished apartment we have provisioned with home goods, clothing and food. Within days of arrival, our staff helps clients apply for Social Security and other public benefits, arranges medical appointments, enrolls them in a healthcare plan, familiarizes them with public transit, and enrolls refugee children in public schools. The staff works with clients to build a household budget, assesses each adult’s employability, and helps adults to find jobs as quickly as possible. Each client enrolls in English and cultural orientation classes.
It is important to understand nationwide, and at IINE, private support for refugees dwarfs public financing. Federal resettlement funds provide a one-time cash grant of $2,075 to resettlement organizations like the International Institute of New England to support each newly arrived refugee. The program allocates $1,125 directly to client expenses in order to cover rent, food, clothing, and transportation during the family’s first 90 days in the U.S. The remaining $925 per client is allocated to the resettlement organization to cover the professional services provided by our staff during that time. The International Institute works to raise $1,000 per refugee beyond federal funding from individuals, church groups, corporations and foundations to sustain programming and assist clients directly. In addition, may local groups and individuals contribute food, clothing, gift cards and other items to IINE, which our staff distributes to refugees and their families.
We will be receiving fewer newly arrived refugees than in recent years, but more than 600 refugees who have come to the U.S. in the past several years are still receiving services from IINE. In addition, we are pivoting some of our training and literacy programming to serve a broader range of immigrants.
Since 9/11, the United States has had the most organized and carefully managed refugee admissions process in the world. After screening by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the U.S National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI Terrorist Screening Center, and the Departments of State, Defense, and Homeland Security vet all refugees seeking resettlement in the U.S. Syrian refugees are subject to additional background checks. U.S. security agencies have complete control over who is, and who is not, admitted to the country as a refugee, and ensure compliance with the Patriot Act and other U.S. laws restricting admission of anyone associated with terrorism.
No person accepted to the U.S. as a refugee, including from Syria, has been implicated in a fatal terrorist attack since the Refugee Resettlement Act of 1980 was enacted, according to an analysis by the Cato Institute.