Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
August 4, 2006
The United States Working to Advance Freedom and Human Dignity: The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and MigrationPDF version
“The commitment of the United States to protecting and assisting refugees is deep and abiding. This commitment is part of our nation’s history and it goes to the very core of our values.” -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
The United States is committed to upholding the human dignity of refugees and victims of conflict around the world and addressing the root causes of displacement of individuals and communities. This work demonstrates the generosity and compassion of the American people. By assisting people faced with persecution and violence, we help to transform societies and we support key goals of President Bush’s National Security Strategy: championing human dignity and defusing regional conflicts.
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), headed by assistant Secretary Ellen R. Sauerbrey, not only leads U.S. efforts to protect and assist refugees and victims of conflict, but also coordinates U.S. foreign policy on population and international migration issues and oversees the U.S. refugee admissions program.
The U.S. is a global leader in protecting and assisting refugees and victims of conflict. Since World War II, more refugees have found permanent homes in the U.S. than in any other country. the U.S. has historically been the largest single-country donor to the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Committee of the Red Cross, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and the International Organization for Migration.
On behalf of the American people, PRM manages over $800 million in annual appropriations for programs that range from meeting basic needs of displaced individuals and communities to providing lasting solutions for millions of refugees. By partnering with other U.S. Government agencies and with international and nongovernmental organizations, PRM multiplies the positive impact of taxpayer dollars and helps assure high quality programming.
Protecting and Assisting Vulnerable People
Through PRM, the U.S. Department of State supports implementing partners to help ensure both the legal and physical protection of some of the most vulnerable people in the world. Programs have included national and community education initiatives to prevent and respond to gender-based violence; a micro-enterprise project for trafficking victims in India; and a youth education and athletic program for Sudanese refugees from Darfur to reduce recruitment of child soldiers. Other programs support life-sustaining and capacity-building assistance efforts which address water and sanitation, food, health, shelter, education, social and economic empowerment, and other needs. This support ranges from keeping food aid flowing to refugee camps in Kenya, to providing kitchen kits for newly displaced Colombians, to sponsoring education and skills courses for afghan women refugees and returnees.
These activities enable victims of persecution and conflict to reclaim their lives, whether by returning home once conditions are safe, building a new life in their country of asylum, or resettling permanently in another country.
A Nation of Immigrants and Refugees
In some cases, resettlement is the best option. Resettlement provides refugees with the opportunity to rebuild their lives. The United States, the world’s leading resettlement country, has offered this opportunity to more than 2.6 million refugees since 1975. The President consults with Congress to determine the number of refugees who can be admitted each year. With the expansion of its refugee processing capacity around the world in recent years, the United States welcomes an increasingly diverse group of refugees. Refugees selected for U.S. resettlement undergo rigorous health and security screening, and participate in an orientation program to introduce them to American culture, values, and laws. Congress allocates funding for the network of overseas and domestic organizations that provide critical services for refugees, but it is the enthusiasm with which U.S. communities welcome these new arrivals that best reflects America’s belief in freedom, human rights, and equality.
Leadership in Population Diplomacy
The world’s population is currently estimated at 6.4 billion, and is expected to increase by another billion before 2015. Approximately 98 percent of this population growth is expected to occur in developing nations. In contrast, many countries throughout the developed world are expected to experience dramatic population decline and aging.
The goal of U.S. policy is to promote healthy and educated populations. The U.S. supports voluntary and informed decision-making regarding family planning so that all couples can achieve healthy families of the size they desire. The U.S. Government provides substantial foreign assistance to improve maternal health and to combat maternal, infant, and child mortality.
Promoting Orderly and Humane Migration
People migrate for many reasons: to escape conflict, to avoid environmental degradation or natural disasters, to seek economic opportunities, or to reunite with family. Effectively managed migration is a priority of the United States, as about 20% of the world’s estimated 191 million migrants reside here.
Through PRM, the U.S. Department of State promotes safe, lawful, orderly and humane international migration practices by working with governments to share best practices and cooperate on a range of region-specific issues, including border security, asylum procedures, and the protection of the human rights of migrants. Among migrants, women and children are especially vulnerable to extreme exploitation such as trafficking for labor or sex. PRM is part of a comprehensive interagency effort that works with governments, and international and nongovernmental organizations in the fight against trafficking in persons.
“The U.S. response to global challenges in population and migration reflects our values of promoting human rights, and protecting people from exploitation or coercion.” -- Assistant Secretary of State, Ellen R. Sauerbrey