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Refugee Resettlement FAQs

Thank you for your interest in refugees! Your support means the world to our clients and is an inspiration to our hardworking staff.

Minnesota has said it will welcome Syrians, when are they coming?
Great question! We don’t know. We are not currently scheduled to accept any Syrian refugees, and the future of Syrian and Iraqi refugee resettlement is uncertain.

There is currently legislation in Congress that will temporarily stop the arrival of Syrian and Iraqi refugees, so if the American SAFE Act becomes a law, there will likely be delays in the resettlement of these groups. We highly encourage you to contact your elected officials regarding this issue.

Even if Syrian refugees are not banned and are welcome in Minnesota, we cannot guarantee that any will be sent here. Of the 2,034 Syrians refugees that have been admitted to the US since 2011, the majority have gone to Michigan, California, and Texas. Minnesota has welcomed 7 Syrian refugees to date. Traditionally, refugees are sent to areas than have established members of their ethnic community there to provide support. Governors from both Texas and Michigan have expressed an unwillingness to accept additional Syrian refugees, so this might affect where Syrian refugees are resettled.

Another factor that affects where refugees are sent are additional community resources available to refugees; this is an area in which Minnesota excels. We have a network of strong community based organizations that offer English language classes and job training programs. These resources, along with the support of people like you, make Minnesota a welcoming community in which Syrian refugees can begin rebuilding their lives.

Okay, so if the refugees aren’t Syrian, where are they coming from?
Last year, we welcomed 465 refugees from 12 countries. The vast majority were Karen (from Burma/Myanmar) and Somali. These refugees wait an average of 17 years in a refugee camp before being settled in the US.

What goods do refugees need?
Our most urgent needs are: winter clothes, diapers and wipes, bus cards, and grocery store gift cards. *Update, we are no longer accepting item donations for refugees-our shelves are filled thanks to generous community members like you! You can find the most up-to-date information about items we accept on our in kind donation page.

Do you accept items not on this list?
Unfortunately, we cannot accept items not on this list. We have expanded our programs dramatically in the last three years; in January we converted our donation room into a third English Language classroom to meet the needs of our new arrivals. At this time, we can only accept critically needed items.

There are four other resettlement agencies in Minnesota, and they accept donations: Arrive Ministries, Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Services, and Minnesota Council of Churches.

Do you accept financial donations?
Yes! The Institute is a nonprofit agency that meets all standards established by the Charities Review Council, and all donations are tax-deductible. You can donate online or mail checks made out to the International Institute of Minnesota:

International Institute
Attn: Carol Garbisch
1694 Como Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55108

What are my financial donations used for?
Cash donations fill in the gaps in donated items (for example, we purchase second-hand winter coats when we don’t have an appropriate size for a refugee) and to address unanticipated needs.

Can I house a refugee?
This is a wonderfully generous offer, but we do not place our arrivals with host families. We are required to provide long-term, independent housing for our refugee families. Finding affordable housing for families in the Twin Cities can be challenging, especially since refugees do not arrive with a credit history, so if you have any leads on affordable apartments or rental homes, please contact Bridget, our Housing Case Manager, at BridgetES@iimn.org.

What volunteer opportunities do you have?
We have numerous volunteer and internship opportunities in which you can work directly with refugees. Please see our website for details.

I live outside the Twin Cities. What can I do to help?
Unfortunately, our office only resettles refugees within the Twin Cities metro area. Lutheran Social Services has an office in St. Cloud, Minnesota Council of Churches has an office in Mankato, and Catholic Charities has an office in Rochester.

You can still help from where you are. Contact your elected representatives to let them know that you support refugee resettlement in Minnesota.

You can also donate to any of the 5 refugee resettlement agencies in the Twin Cities. Here’s a link to our donation page.

If we haven’t answered your questions here, please message us on Facebook or email EHipps@iimn.org.