[Resettlement] FW: Refugees' birth dates, Mercy Housing

resettlement at lists.lirs.org resettlement at lists.lirs.org
Thu May 11 09:46:55 EDT 2006

Here is another posting from the CAL cultural orientation list serv. I
think you may all find the article on refugee birthdates, specifically
Somali Bantu, very informative. Please share this information with your
case management colleagues, especially those who do orientation. 

I sincerely encourage each of you to scroll down to the bottom and sign
up to get on this list serv. I also hope that you can get others in your
agency signed up as well.  Where else can you get an answer to the
birthdate issue directly from JVA Kenya?


-----Original Message-----
From: refugee at list.culturalorientation.net
[mailto:refugee at list.culturalorientation.net] 
Sent: Wednesday, May 10, 2006 5:07 PM
To: Refugee Discussion
Subject: Refugees' birth dates, Mercy Housing

Refugee Discussion
Hosted by www.culturalorientation.net

Hi, all:

Please see two messages below, one re: refugees' birth dates, and
another important request from Mercy Housing.

Thanks for your participation in Refugee Discussion.


Sharyl Tanck
Program Coordinator
Cultural Orientation Resource Center
Center for Applied Linguistics
4646 40th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20016
phone 202-362-0700 x 521
fax 202-363-7204
sharyl at cal.org


Hi, I'm passing this msg. along on behalf of Patricia Wanyee of the JVA
Processing Office in Kenya.


Geraldine Owens


Subject: RE: DOB issues, new member, place of birth issues, refugee
mental health, youth motivational speaker, BRYCS info re: youth

Dear All,

It is unfortunate that there seems to be an issue regarding the
documented ages of Somali Bantu applicants.  OPEs are pursuing all
available avenues to ensure that the information recorded in the refugee
case file is an accurate reflection of the refugee's oral testimony.
Please be advised that as the refugees are processed by the OPE, they
are asked for their age of birth three times.  This information is asked
of them during their prescreening, form-filling and casework interviews.
The information is verified three times based on the oral information
provided by the refugee applicants to the OPE staff members.

The refugee applicant cases are then presented to USCIS for
The applicants, under oath, are asked, yet again, for their dates of
The USCIS adjudication officer then either verifies the stated age on
the I-590 or will make any changes necessary, if the applicant provides
differing information than was provided at the times of their OPE
interviews.  Once USCIS verifies the date of birth/age of the applicant,
they tick the I-590 form indicating that they asked the question and
verified the age information per the oral testimony of the applicant.
It is only after USCIS adjudication that any changes to the information,
regarding the age/date of birth of the applicants, is entered into

We'd like to thank you for bringing this issue up because we will talk
to our staff to ensure that they continue to be very diligent in
following the procedures we have outlined above.  We will also share
with our staff the real and negative ramifications an incorrect birth
date can cause for refugees even after many years in the US.

Best regards,

Patricia Wanyee
Deputy Representative for Communications and Human Resources JVA Kenya


Dear Colleagues:

As you probably know, the Office of Refugee Resettlement has chosen to
discontinue funding for housing technical assistance at the end of the
current contract period, September, 30, 2006. As the current Housing
Technical Assistance provider, Mercy Housing will have some difficult
decisions to make in the upcoming months regarding portions of the
current technical assistance program that we may choose to continue.
Over the past six years, Mercy Housing has been enriched as our
understanding of the issues refugees and immigrants face in adjusting to
life in the United States has increased. As that has occurred, so too,
has our organizational commitment to this program increased. Hopefully,
those of you we have worked with similarly feel enriched and better able
to address the housing issues your constituents face. We value the
relationships we have built and we look forward to maintaining them in
the future. 

In the past, assistance has been provided in three primary areas:
*	On-site assessments and community problem solving;
*	Conferences and workshops; and, 
*	Communications-- including publications and maintenance of the
website, www.refugeehouse.org.

We need your feedback to assist us to determine the future of the
Refugee Housing Program. Specifically, 

*	What are the strengths and weaknesses of the current program and
therefore what portions of our current program would be most useful to
retain in the future?
*	Are there alternative sources of funding for the Refugee Housing
services we offer that you think should be pursued?
*	In the event we reach the conclusion that it is not possible to
continue the Refugee Housing program in any form, how can we minimize
the impact on those of you who have come to rely on us (particularly for
our housing orientation booklet and other publications) as we close down
the program?  
Over the past year, Mercy Housing has committed funds to supplement the
assistance we have provided through the ORR contract. This has allowed
us to do supplemental printings of the "Welcome to your new home"
booklet and has facilitated refugee integration activities through
sponsorship of a Neighborhood Academy community development program for
refugees and other residents in a low-income neighborhood in East Denver
in which Mercy Housing and several other nonprofit housing organizations
own rental property. Your suggestions are an important factor in our
decision about how or if we continue this program in the future.  Please
call or email me with any suggestions you may have. 

Email: srobbins at mercyhousing.org; ph. 303-830-3449

Scott Robbins
Refugee Housing Program Manager

If you would like to share ideas or pose a question, please send a
message to: refugee at list.culturalorientation.net. All messages will be
compiled and edited by the moderator. 

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