2 Nebraska refugee agencies cut staff in wake of Trump order
Feb. 18, 2017
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Two Nebraska refugee resettlement agencies are cutting staff positions in the wake of President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration.
Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska, the largest of Nebraska's three refuges resettlement agencies, announced Friday that it will eliminate 15 jobs in anticipation of a significant drop in refugee arrivals. Seven of those workers will be reassigned to other jobs within the agency.
The Refugee Empowerment Center in Omaha has laid off two workers and declined to fill a third open position. The agency says it expects additional layoffs as its board studies a revised budget.
Both agencies rely on the federal dollars that come with each refugee settled to fund the vast majority of their operations.
Catholic Social Services of Southern Nebraska says its scheduled arrivals took place early enough in the year to make cuts unnecessary — for now.
Trump signed the executive order, which also restricts travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, and a federal judge suspended the travel ban days later. But the order also suspended the U.S. Refugee Admissions program for 120 days. The number of refugees allowed in will be capped at 50,000 for 2017, down from 110,000.
That will have a significant impact in Nebraska, which led the nation in the number of refugees it accepted per capita last fiscal year.
Some 76 refugees per 100,000 residents resettled here during the 12-month period that ended Sept. 30, according to a Pew Research Center analysis. More than 1,441 refugees arrived in the state during that period, and the state had been on pace to exceed that number this year.
At Lutheran Family Services, some of those who are losing their jobs are refugees themselves.
"We have incredibly dedicated and committed staff that weren't just doing a job. This was their life passion and work — to help refugees," Todd Reckling, vice president at Lutheran Family Services, told the Lincoln Journal Star.