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Resettlement Agency Believes Texas Can Accommodate More Syrian Refugees
Syrian refugees relocating to Germany in first wave of temporary resettlement program.

Under pressure to show the U.S. will join European efforts to resettle Syrian refugees, President Obama has told his administration to take in at least 10,000 over the next year. Refugee Services of Texas has resettled 72 Syrians across Texas. 

The organization hasn’t received any calls yet about additional refugees – there’s usually just a few weeks’ notice – but vice president J.D. Newsom believes Texas can accommodate them.

Highlights from Newsom’s interview:

Why Texas can accommodate more Syrian refugees: “It has to do with the economy and their ability to quickly get jobs and become productive members of society. In Dallas, they (the jobs) range from light manufacturing to maybe working in a hotel to, in some cases, food processing. It’s a variety of jobs. A lot of them are low skill because of the language barrier.”

Also, the diverse population in Texas: “Houston and Dallas, for examples are incredibly diverse cities. The Syrians, for example, there is a small community developing in Dallas right now that is going to benefit the Syrian refugees who come later. They’ll have a neighbor they can go to and talk in the same language and have that common bond.”

Steps in the resettlement process: “Meet them at the airport when they arrive (in Dallas). We’ll have an apartment arranged for them. Over the course of the first three months, we’ll enroll the kids in school, enroll the adults in English classes so they can learn some survival English. And we’ll start that job search for them. They’re expected to go to work very quickly.”

How long the process lasts: “The initial process is three months. We’ve got some programs that can last up to eight months to help them with cash assistance and with case management to help them get on their feet.  They’re eligible for refugee services for up to five years. After that five year mark, they’re eligible for citizenship.”

Sam Baker is KERA's senior editor and local host for Morning Edition. The native of Beaumont, Texas, also edits and produces radio commentaries and Vital Signs, a series that's part of the station's Breakthroughs initiative. He also was the longtime host of KERA 13’s Emmy Award-winning public affairs program On the Record. He also won an Emmy in 2008 for KERA’s Sharing the Power: A Voter’s Voice Special, and has earned honors from the Associated Press and the Public Radio News Directors Inc.