COLUMBUS (TDB) -- Gov. Ted Strickland took a lashing recently over some thoughtlessly worded and seemingly harsh remarks that Iraqi's who fled their troubled nation would not be welcome in Ohio. The Democrat quickly backed away. Now the door appears wide open for resettlement. Ohio is planning a significant increase in spending for REFUGEE SUPPORT programs.
The state -- which receives federal subsidies to aid refugees making a new home and adapting to American lifestyles -- planned to spend about $6.5 million this fiscal year. That is going to jump to $11.2 million, according to documents now on file with the State Controlling Board. The board is expected to act on the nearly $4.7 million increase next week.
"The requested increase also includes the receipt of additional federal funding in the Refugee Cash and Medical Grant and the Refugee Social Services Grant. Additional funds received are due to the increase in refugee intake and increase in secondary migrant refugees entering Ohio from primary states of arrival. The requested increase in 100% federally funded."
The social services money helps refugees become self-supporting as quickly as possible. About 1,100 refugees arrive in Ohio each year, and they have come from Bosnia, the former Soviet Union, Cuba, Ethiopia, Iraq, Iran, Rwanda and Somalia. State data from earlier this decade shows that 45% are under age 19. They also have been moving in Ohio from other states, and there are approximately 20,000 Somalis who have settled in the Columbus area.
Some data from the Ohio Department of Education, which gets the kids into schools and tries to adapt them to the English language, is HERE. State officials say refugees come for a variety of reasons including escaping violence and persecution, to rejoin family members already in the U.S. or to seek improved economic opportunity.