Every year there are thousands of people all over the globe who are forced to leave their homes due to conflict and wars. Fleeing to a foreign land for safety, refugees often struggle to secure employment, housing, or education. In an effort to create a smoother transition for refugees and help them adapt to American life, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, partnered with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), dedicates the second Tuesday of every month for a Public Safety Refugee Training Seminar.
When possible, it is most desirable to the refugees to return them to their home country. Other times, refugees are able to build new lives in a neighboring country. However, of the 16 million refugees, roughly only 100,000 have the chance to resettle in a third country. Of that number, the United States resettles about 70,000 refugees each year – and of those, 400-600 are resettled in Sacramento. The IRC assists with their initial transition, including the Sheriff’s seminars, and application for permanent residency.
The seminar includes information on how to obtain an identification card, emergency phone numbers, and even what to do if you are pulled over by a police officer. They also discuss California traffic laws and river safety.
“Several of our customs differ from those in other countries. By introducing them to some of the basics, we hope to not only make their resettlement a little easier, but to help make them active, productive citizens,” said Sergeant David Froman, presenter for the Public Safety Training Seminars.
Internet safety and identity theft protection is also a topic Froman discusses, as the internet may be something new for some. “Some of the attendees at these seminars have been through hardships in their lifetime and work very hard to earn their living. I offer tips on how to use the internet safely in order to protect not only their finances, but ultimately the safety of themselves and their family members,” said Froman.
There are 40-60 attendees at each seminar, from countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. There are also 4-5 translators to ensure all questions and concerns are addressed in their native language.
The seminars are part of a larger movement from the IRC to help resettle refugees by providing services including safe housing, community orientation, temporary financial assistance, and job placement. The IRC resettles refugees in 22 cities throughout the United States, including Sacramento. In 2013, the IRC assisted more than 8,700 newly arrived refugees.
“We initiate a connection in hopes to not only provide support during their transition, but ultimately to help them create better lives,” added Froman.
For more information about the International Rescue Committee, visit, Rescue.org.
Writer: Danielle Spang, Communication and Media Intern