Shutdown strands refugees en route to U.S.


When the government shut down on Oct. 1, one of the agencies immediately affected was the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program. The shutdown forced the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration to delay the arrivals of refugees from Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Eritea, Cuba and others, Austin’s KUT reports.

In a letter to resettlement agencies, Lawrence Bartlett, the director of refugee admissions for the bureau said that the moratorium on refugee travel was extended to Oct. 21 “because it is unclear whether certain federally-funded services and benefits will be available to arriving refugees.” Normally, the number of refugees admitted during the fiscal year is decided by the first week in October.

Displaced refugees expected to arrive in the U.S. are now stranded in their country of origin. For 47-year-old Santos Landazury, a Cuban refugee, the shutdown stalled the reunion with his wife and son in St. Louis.

“The situation makes us feel like the government has let us down,” Landazury told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “This is a government in which I put my trust.”