US Secretary of Homeland Security visits the ICMC Resettlement Support Center in Istanbul
Istanbul, 6 April 2016 - Last month, the United States Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh C. Johnson and a delegation from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) visited the International Catholic Migration Commission’s Resettlement Support Center for Turkey and Middle East (ICMC RSC TuME) at its main office in Istanbul and met with refugees awaiting resettlement to the United States.
The Secretary met with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers conducting refugee interviews onsite, observed an interview with a refugee family being considered for resettlement, and participated in adult and youth cultural orientation classes for refugees approved and preparing for departure for the United States. Discussions focused on how the resettlement program helps vulnerable refugees rebuild new lives in the United States and stressed the importance of Turkey’s robust response to the 2.7 million Syrian and 250,000 refugees of other nationalities who have sought refuge in Turkey from the regional conflict.
On average, the refugee resettlement process takes 18-24 months between the moment refugees are referred to ICMC and the day they reach the United States. In-person interviews with USCIS and security checks take time. On November 24, 2015, Secretary Johnson said on the White House blog, “We are focused on admitting the most vulnerable Syrians - this means mostly women, children and families. Anyone who applies for and is approved for refugee status in the United States, including Syrians, must first go through a rigorous security screening process.”
Secretary Johnson thanked the ICMC staff at the Resettlement Support Center for their commitment to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program and for their ongoing logistical and programmatic support to USCIS officers, responsible for adjudicating each refugee case being considered for admission to the United States.
Secretary Johnson’s delegation included León Rodríguez, USCIS Director; Brigadier General Francis Taylor, DHS Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis; Alan Bersin, DHS Assistant Secretary for International Affairs and Chief Diplomatic Officer, Office of Policy; and other members of DHS and USCIS leadership.
Also in attendance were Charles Hunter, Consul General, Istanbul; Elmar Bagirov, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Senior Resettlement Officer, Ankara; Robert Ward, Department of State (DOS) Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) Regional Refugee Coordinator; and Yan Gao, DOS PRM Program Officer.
About the Resettlement Support Center for Turkey and Middle East
Fully funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), ICMC operates the Resettlement Support Center for Turkey and Middle East (RSC TuME) in Istanbul, Turkey and Beirut, Lebanon. Since 2009, RSC TuME has helped resettle more than 40,000 refugees to the United States.