Frequently Asked Questions

What is a refugee?

Refugees are people who have been forced to flee their home country and who are unable to return because they are at risk for persecution due to race, nationality, religion, or membership in a political social group or political opinion. This definition also sometimes includes people fleeing war or other armed conflict.

People become refugees when they cross country borders. They are displaced (or Internally Displaced Persons) when forced to flee their homes but remain within their own country. There are currently around 60 million people that have been forced from their homes by conflict.

How many refugees are coming to Houston and when are they getting here?

The quota is determined every year by the local resettlement agencies and the federal government. The arrival of refugees is spread throughout the year with new families arriving every week.

Where are the refugees coming from?

Houston welcomes refugees from all nations.  In the past three years, the majority of refugees to Houston are arriving from Afghanistan, Bhutan, Burma, and Iraq.

Is it safe to have refugees in Houston?

The process for individuals to gain refugee status in the United States is an extensive one. Worldwide, the average processing time once someone has applied for refugee status is eighteen to twenty-four months. Every refugee admitted into the United States undergoes a thorough screening process led by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in consultation with the Department of Defense and FBI. Any person that has participated in war crimes or violations of humanitarian and human rights law, including the crime of terrorism, will not be given refugee status by the United States.

While this is a question worth asking, it’s important to remember that fear is never a more pragmatic response than love. Sometimes we allow ourselves to be so afraid of things we don’t even know are happening. Hope can be restored in the lives of many if we choose to allow perfect love to cast out all fear.

What’s the easiest way to get involved?

Welcome kits are filled with essential items that refugees need to rebuild their lives in the United States. They’re a simple way to be a part of welcoming refugees to Houston. Get more information on the next Welcome Kit Collection Day here.

Is my donation tax deductible?

Yes! You’ll receive a tax receipt when making a financial contribution or when donating welcome kits.

Are refugees automatically American citizens?

The status for refugees lasts for twelve months. During that time, they’re expected to work while becoming self-sufficient after eight months. After the first year, refugees are required to adjust their status to that of Permanent Resident Alien. They can then apply for citizenship after having been a resident in the United States for five years.

HOW DID HOUSTON WELCOMES REFUGEES START?

houston welcomes refugees was founded by a group of people in response to the biblical teachings on God’s love for the nations, with the goal of mobilizing the global church to love refugees arriving in our city with the love of Christ.