SPOKANE, Wash.—The Inland Northwest saw a decrease in refugee resettlement numbers in 2017.
World Relief Spokane, an organization that works to settle refugees in Spokane, saw a record number of refugees come in during the 2016 fiscal year.
Officials with World Relief Spokane said almost 600 refugees resettled in the area last year. That number dropped to just over 400 during the 2017 year.
World Relief Spokane director, Mark Finney said he was surprised by the decrease in refugee numbers.
“It feels strange to have our numbers going way down because the global crisis is still mushrooming,” said Finney.
Finney said people who feel safer hearing that the number of refugees is going down should listen to some of their stories and who they are.
Emmanuel Kassa was one of the refugees who settled in Spokane.
Kassa fled the Congo where he said his mother, three sisters, and four brothers were all killed.
“When you see your family members are killed, your friends and relatives are killed, you cannot have that spirit of being there again. So that’s why I left,” said Kassa.
Kassa said the people he’s come across in America have been welcoming.
“We are sleeping. We are eating. People of America are friendly. They know about God. Most of them are Christians. And you know, our Christianity preaches about love. And for America, that’s not a problem. It’s good,” said Kassa.
Kassa said the process for him and his family to get to America was a long one.
Potential refugees entering the United States have to go through several screenings before being admitted.
Kassa said it took three and a half years for him and his family to come to America.
“I’m telling you the process of coming to America for a refugee is very complicated, and it takes a long time because they have so many processes you have to go through,” said Kassa.
According to Pew Research about 97,000 refugees were resettled in America last year. This year that number dropped to about 28,000.
This mirrors national trend. @pewresearch reports 97,000 refugees settled in US in 2016; 28,000 this year so far.— Rob Harris (@KREMRob) October 23, 2017