About IRIS – Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Service
Thank you for expressing an interest in IRIS – Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services in the important work of resettling refugees to Connecticut. Welcoming persecuted people from other countries is an ancient and universal custom. In the United States, it is our most noble tradition.
In 2016, the U.S. government has invited 85,000 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. About 500 come to Connecticut, where they are placed with one of three refugee agencies, including IRIS, based in New Haven. IRIS addresses the critical needs of hundreds of refugees; about 420 will arrive in New Haven and surrounding towns in 2016. Refugees come from a wide range of 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, childcare, assistance with registering children in the local schools, 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 or would like to schedule a visit, please feel free to contact us.