World Relief Spokane is facing a budget crisis and likely layoffs of many staff members who help resettle refugees in the wake of President Donald Trump’s executive order Friday temporarily halting refugee admissions to the United States.
The organization, which resettled nearly 600 refugees in the Spokane area last year, receives most of its funding from the federal government, development director Johnna Nickoloff said. Those funds include cash which goes directly to the refugee family, as well as payment to World Relief to cover overhead and staffing.
“The funding is connected with how many refugees come through our office,” Nickoloff said. A four-month halt on new refugees also means a four-month gap in the organization’s main funding source. Nickoloff said temporary bans on refugee admissions have historically been drawn out.
“It usually ends up being a lot longer than is stated,” she said.
World Relief employs about 35 people in Spokane, Nickoloff said. About 16 work integrating new refugees and helping them find jobs and are funded mostly through other sources, including some state government funds. But the staff for the resettlement department, as well as administrative jobs, will likely be cut in half, she said.
Though new refugees won’t be coming in, World Relief provides services to help new refugees get settled, find jobs and learn English. If the office closes, refugees will be left without those services.
“Without us being open, these refugees that just recently arrived have nowhere to turn,” she said.
This story has been updated to correct how World Relief Spokane funds other staff positions.
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