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.
Common Overview Questions
Founded in 1918, the International Institute of New England (IINE) is one of the region’s oldest and largest non-profit social service organizations serving new Americans.
We create opportunities for refugees and immigrants to succeed through resettlement, education, career advancement and pathways to citizenship. In 2019, more than 2,500 immigrants and refugees took part in our family reunification, education, skills training, job placement, and legal services programs offered in Boston and Lowell, Massachusetts, and Manchester, New Hampshire.
Since 1980, we have placed more than 15,000 refugees in New England communities. Today, our Central American family reunification program is the largest in Greater Boston. Our work is critical to the growth the region’s economy. Each year we place hundreds of well-trained and ambitious immigrants in jobs in companies in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
The International Institute is a leader in the creation of programs and services for new Americans. Our expertise comes from more than 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.
The diagram below gives you of a view of our comprehensive approach to serving refugees and immigrant.
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.
Through IINE, immigrants and refugees can learn English, access life and work skills coaching, enroll in healthcare, secure jobs, reunite with their families, and gain legal assistance. Each year across our three sites in Boston and Lowell, Massachusetts, and Manchester, New Hampshire, we help hundreds of refugee and immigrant families integrate into their communities and contribute to New England’s growth and prosperity.
Our services include:
- Reception and Placement –IINE resettles hundreds of refugees each year who are fleeing persecution and conflict in their homelands. Our work with refugees forms the basis of our continuum of service. We also support asylees who are in the United States seeking political protection after fleeing persecution.
- English Instruction – Our ESOL program serves more than 700 foreign-born students each year. The program offers English specific to job readiness and workplace etiquette, which equips students with the language skills and cultural knowledge needed to enter the workforce and advance their careers.
- Refugee Employment Services (RES) – We provide employment services for up to five years from an individual’s date of arrival, enabling IINE to continue helping refugees further develop their skills, obtain better-paying positions, and advance their careers.
- Specialized Vocational Training – Our vocational training programs in Boston and Lowell prepare students for careers in the hospitality and healthcare industries, which offer family-sustaining wages, good benefits, and opportunities for advancement.
- Legal Immigration Services – Our Legal Immigration Service program offers professional and affordable immigration assistance to help immigrants file for green cards, secure work authorizations, reunite with their families, and apply for citizenship.
- Unaccompanied Minors Program – One of the largest of its kind in the region, IINE’s Boston-based Unaccompanied Minors program reunites unaccompanied Central American children with family members or sponsors living in the United States.
- Amplifying Immigrant Voices – IINE’s “Suitcase Stories®” is a traveling live performance series that features foreign- and U.S.-born residents sharing stories of migration. Connecting people and bridging communities, this awareness-raising series has played to more than 5,000 people.
We serve Refugees, Asylees, 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 2019:
- Refugees– IINE resettled 246 refugees in Fiscal Year 2019. The total number of refugees in all of our services, including employment and case management, was 719 in 2019. 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 138 asylees in Fiscal Year 2019. An asylee is someone who received the equivalent of refugee status by a court within the U.S. instead of overseas.
- Special Immigrant Visa Holders (SIVs)– Our team served 85 Special Interest Visa holders in FY2019. 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 85 Cuban and Haitian entrants in Fiscal Year 2019. 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 163 Central American minors with families in Greater Boston in FY2019 through our Unaccompanied Children program. The majority of the children in this program come from the so-called “Northern Triangle” of Central America – El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras – which are among the most violent countries in the world. 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). Some of the children we have helped were separated from their families who were attempting to cross the southern border of the United States.
- Victims of Human Trafficking– IINE provided case management services to 12 foreign-born Victims of Human Trafficking in FY19. 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 1918, 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 2019, the International Institute of New England served 2,519 refugees and immigrants, a 39% increase over last year. Our newly launched legal services program provided life-changing assistance to 624 people in 2019, and we saw an increase in the number of refugees we resettled. We expanded services to the Metro North region of Boston where we trained people for jobs at the new Encore Casino in Everett. We provided case management support to 840 people last year, another 720 people enrolled in English classes, and 874 people took part in employment training and placement programs.
In our Lowell site, IINE launched a Certified Nursing Assistant Training Program in partnership with Middlesex Community College and the Abisi Adult Learning Center. In Boston, we provided English instruction to employees at Tufts Medical Center. IINE signed an agreement to train the staff of a large Massachusetts-based human services provider to prepare their non-native English speakers to take and pass the medical administration program test.
Our popular live storytelling series, Suitcase Stories®, continues to draw enthusiastic audiences to mainstage and community shows. IINE is offering customized Suitcase Stories® programming to schools, businesses, churches, and community groups.
The International Institute of New England derives 48% of its funding from public sources and 52% from private sources, including fundraising and modest fees charged for some education and training programming as well as legal services. IINE offers interpretation and translation services through Pinpoint Translation Services, and revenue from this program supports our work. Just three years ago, nearly 80% of our funding came from governmental sources. Our ability to shift to a model in which we seek both private and public support for our work has made IINE a more nimble organization that is better able to offer a broad range of services to new Americans.
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 to respond to a humanitarian crisis that has driven the number of refugees to the highest levels 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.
Under U.S. law, the President has the authority to determine the number of refugees the United States will admit each year. Since taking office, President Trump has reduced the refugee admissions ceiling to 45,000 in Fiscal Year 2018, 30,000 in 2019, and 18,000 for fiscal year 2020. These refugee admissions numbers are the lowest in U.S. history.
While many organizations across the country have cut or reduced refugee programs, IINE continues to resettle refugees. In fact, we resettled a higher number of refugees in 2019 than we did in 2018. Additionally, IINE is in contact with many of the more than 7,000 former refugee clients we have resettled since 2007. Many routinely come to our offices for education, career and legal services.
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.
From 1980 until the election of Donald Trump, the U.S. led the world in formal refugee resettlement, accepting more refugees annually than any other country. Both Republican and Democratic administrations supported the program.
Resettlement is available to the most at-risk refugees whose safety cannot be assured by any government or non-governmental institution and those with the best prospects for long-term integration. 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 and set an example for other countries. Turkey has more than 3.7 million refugees, Pakistan has 1.4 million, and Germany is home to 1.1 million refugees. 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. The refugees IINE resettles quickly find work, pay taxes, and contribute to the local economy.
IINE was resettling an average of 625 refugees each year prior to 2017. We experienced a reduction in refugee arrivals in 2017 and 2018, and an increase to 246 refugees in 2019. Refugees come to New England from many countries facing war and violence including Myanmar (Burma), the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Sudan and other nations.
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 have fewer refugees in resettlement services than prior to 2017, but we are serving more people. We have grown our legal services program, expanded skills training programs, and shifted to an economic model that is less dependent on public money. IINE remains in contact with nearly 7,000 refugees whom we have resettled in recent years in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
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.