Catholics in NJ want to help refugees — but too few are coming
A year and a half ago, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark started a program to welcome dozens of refugee families from around the world to New Jersey
But because of a change of policy by the Trump administration, most of the refugees who had been expected never arrived and now the program is being phased out.
“It’s sad because we haven’t been able to provide these people with the things they need to make changes in their lives,” says Sandra Fils, the division director of workforce development at Catholic Charities.
She says 51 refugees had been expected last year but only eight arrived. Since September, only two additional individuals settled in the Garden State.
She says Catholic Charities had collected furniture, "three rooms full of clothing," appliances and "everything a person would need in a house setting."
“We haven’t done anything yet with the items that we have collected but we are planning on reaching out to other refugee programs in the community," she said. They are also looking into giving the items to other programs run by Catholic Charities to help different groups of people.
Fils notes she and other Catholic Charities workers have seen first-hand how families in need have been helped by the services they provide, and it’s difficult not to be able to continue the work.
“The people that we have served, they don’t come here to just take, they really want to give back,” she said.
She points out one refugee helped by the program has decided to become a social worker so he can help others the way he was helped.
“We have volunteers who don’t even get paid to do this: They donate their time and energy to assist the clients. They go above and beyond to ensure that their needs are met.”
Because so few refugees are now coming into the country, the Catholic Charities refugee resettlement program is losing some of its grant money and will be shut down by the end of September.
“We have staff that have been trained and they are ready and very dedicated and committed to the cause,” she says.