On the issue of immigration in the US there is a “passion gap.” While the majority of people in the US are pro-immigration, and pro-refugee resettlement, the smaller percentage of people who are against immigration are much more passionate about voicing their position and about making sure it’s a prominent election issue. Utica: The Last Refuge is a documentary that will ignite passion for those of us who support resettling refugees and believe the United States should be a leader in exhibiting this kind of humanity. In short, we seek to level the passion gap.



Amidst the largest refugee crisis since WWII (coming from Syria, Myanmar, Somalia, DRC, and Sudan mostly), we are taking in fewer refugees than ever before. Target numbers are set by the president each October and cover the succeeding fiscal year.

Not only are we setting decreasing target numbers, but the State Department is reducing the staff who do the work of identifying refugees and who grant them refugee status. Even more important, there has been a big reduction in the number field personnel charged with vetting refugees. There are now far fewer refugees in the pipeline ready to be resettled in the US, making even meeting our low target numbers impossible. It will take years to rebuild capacity we have lost via the current administration’s harsh tactics.

Refugees are a subset of immigrants who arrive in the US with a legal status that distinguishes them from someone who comes here seeking asylum or simply “a better life.” According to UNHCR, “A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence.” Typically, a refugee has fled their country of origin and landed in a refugee camp. After being officially designated a refugee they are then vetted by US authorities for one to two years before being approved for resettlement. Only a small percentage of refugees are fortunate enough to be formally resettled in another country. There are arguably many more people who should be designated refugees, but the United Nations typically qualifies only people from specific countries with dire circumstances. For example, there are not currently any refugees in Latin America. All refugees are required to apply for a green card to become a permanent resident after one year in the United States. After five years of residency, they become eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.


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