A refugee is any individual who has fled their country of origin and meets the criteria for what the United Nations describes as "a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion".
Each year, the President of the United States and the Congress determine the number of refugees that the US will resettle here. Recently that number has been around 70,000 people per year.
The agencies that resettle refugees are known as VOLAGs (VOLuntary AGencies) and in Erie, PA there are two VOLAGs, our agency and the International Institute of Erie (also known as USCRI-Erie). Nationally, there are nine VOLAG entities. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is the largest of all of the national resettlement agencies.
The USCCB believes that refugee resettlement is just one of the many ministries that our Church offers in an effort to live up to the call of Matthew 25 "Whatsoever you do for the least of my people, that you do for me." Read more of the Bishops' position on refugee resettlement, here.