New Jersey has resumed its role in overseeing and coordinating a refugee resettlement program that helps people from other countries seeking refuge escape violence and persecution.

In 2016, the Christie administration decided to relinquish the state’s role in refugee resettlement. But this past July 4, Gov. Phil Murphy announced that the Garden State was resuming that role.

State Department of Human Services Deputy Commissioner Elisa Neira said the program offers assistance “with different programs to make sure that they have social services supports, to make sure that they have access to healthcare and medical screening as well as employment and training services.”

She said several additional services are also offered to refugees in partnership with the International Rescue Committee and other nonprofits “to make sure that they have access to English language training, to make sure they have access to any other service that is going to help them thrive in New Jersey.”

So far in 2019, 250 refugees have settled in New Jersey from counties including Syria, Afghanistan, Cuba and Haiti.

“Refugees are fleeing persecution and violence from countries that are not stable, and so they’re looking for a place where they can have freedom, where they can be safe," Neira said.

The Trump administration continues to cut refugee admissions. The number allowed into the country next year will be 8,000, which is down from 111,000 two years ago, when 536 refugees resettled in the Garden State.

Niera pointed out the resettlement program is not costing New Jersey taxpayers any additional money.

“The refugee resettlement program is all federally funded. We receive federal funds from the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is about $3 million.’

She pointed out the United States has a long tradition of welcoming refugees.

“We have welcoming values and we want to be helpful for people that are facing really critical issues and need to find a place for safety,” she said.

“And it’s also important for us to recognize the contributions that refugees have made to our country and to our state, economically, contributions to our workforce and our culture.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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