New Jersey takes back control of refugee program

Julie Daurio, Producer | October 3, 2019 | Politics

New Jersey has taken back control of its refugee program from the federal government, reversing a Christie-era policy.

Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson announced that as of Tuesday, the department had resumed its role as coordinator of refugee resettlement within the state.

Murphy first announced his intention to take back control on July 4.

In 2016, former Gov. Chris Christie ceded oversight of refugee resettlement to the federal government.

Local agencies stepped in to fill the gap, with the Elizabeth-based International Rescue Committee running all aspects of the resettlement program.

IRC will continue to oversee social programs including employment support and English-language training for refugees.

The return to state oversight comes as the Trump administration is drastically scaling back its cap on refugees.

“New Jersey is resuming this role at a critical time,” Johnson said in a statement. “The federal government’s policy is wrong and devastating for refugees desperate for safety and to be reunited with their families.”

The United States will accept no more than 18,000 refugees over the next fiscal year — cut from 30,000 last year and 110,000 two years ago, the last cap set by former President Barack Obama.

Last week, President Trump also signed an executive order allowing states and localities to block refugee resettlement in their communities.