About IRIS – Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services
Welcoming persecuted people from other countries is an ancient and universal custom. In the United States, it is our most noble tradition.
In fiscal year 2016, the U.S. government invited 97,263 refugees from all over the world to come to this country, after a rigorous Department of Homeland Security screening process that can take up to three years. Over 900 came to Connecticut, where they were placed with one of three refugee agencies, including IRIS, which welcomed 475. Refugees come from many war-torn countries, including Sudan, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Their needs are significant and IRIS is their primary resource as they begin to rebuild their lives after years of persecution and displacement. IRIS helps refugees on the road to self-sufficiency by providing lifesaving support during their transition to life in the United States. IRIS case managers greet refugees and take them to apartments–rented by IRIS and furnished with donated furniture. After being served a warm, culturally appropriate meal and after having a good night’s sleep, our clients will begin the initial work of being integrated into the fabric of the United States.
IRIS quickly begins providing a wide array of services to these new Americans including daily English lessons, education and youth programs, access to health care provided by our partner Yale-New Haven Hospital and a thorough multi-day cultural orientation. IRIS also works intensively with each new arrival to begin the important work of finding employment. IRIS’s Employment Services offers resume assistance, a job club, interview assistance and actual job placement. IRIS attempts to meet all of the needs of its clients by providing extra services including a women’s group and a variety of young people’s groups. And if family members have been left behind, our legal office will work to reunite them.
Refugee resettlement is a demanding, self-help program with only modest funding from the federal government, but with support from the staff at IRIS, together with the community, most refugees quickly adjust to their new country and become self-sufficient. Just as quickly, these new Americans add value to our community through cultural enrichment, diversity and economic growth. We have found that refugees make wonderful neighbors. In fact, studies show that immigrants are more likely than native born Americans to start their own businesses.
If you would like to learn more about IRIS, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (203) 562-2095.