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FAQs/Facts & Figures

Who We Are

Have you ever had a question and didn’t know where to find the answer? If so, you’ve come to the right place.

The section below is a compilation of answers to the questions most commonly asked by our constituents. Just start by following one of the links below. If you can’t find the question you wanted to ask, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Visit our expanded FAQ to learn more about refugees, asylum seekers, and survivors of human trafficking.

  • What does your organization do?

    Refugee Services of Texas is a social service agency dedicated to providing services to refugees, asylees, survivors of trafficking and other displaced persons fleeing persecution and to the communities that welcome them: Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Amarillo, Houston, and the Rio Grande Valley.

  • What is the history of RST?

    Refugee Services of Texas was founded in 1978 and have served almost 20,000 individuals from more than 30 countries, helping them integrate into a new home.

  • How many refugees does RST serve?

    Refugee Services of Texas is the largest refugee resettlement agency in the state, and Texas resettles more refugees than any other state in the country. Last year, RST resettled 800 individuals, over 40% of all refugees resettled in Texas. Consistently, RST resettles around 3% of all refugees who come to the US – about one out of every 30 people.

  • What other vulnerable populations does RST serve?

    RST also serves survivors of human trafficking, and this program is expanding greatly due to the need (over 300,000 victims of human trafficking in Texas alone).

  • What kind of survivors does RST serve?

    RST serves survivors of both labor and sex trafficking. We currently provide these services across the state, and have a proposal into the Office of the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division for $2.0 million to dramatically scale up services in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Amarillo, Houston & the Rio Grande Valley.

  • Who is a refugee?

    A refugee is a person who flees their home country and cannot return because of persecution, or a well-founded fear of persecution, on account of race, religion, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

  • Is a refugee and asylum seeker the same?

    No. A refugee may be called an asylum seeker until granted asylee status by the state to which they have fled for safety or by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

  • Refugees are not dangerous; they are the ones fleeing danger. They come to our shores fully vetted and documented, often traumatized and bereft of loved ones. Refugees are screened under the strictest inter-agency security process ever devised, which includes registration and data collection by the UNHCR; interviews and data cross-referencing through the Department of State; security checks through the National Counterterrorism Center, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, Department of State, and others; a DHS interview; biometric security checks; medical checks; and a cultural orientation.

  • Is refugee resettlement bipartisan?

    Refugee resettlement has historically enjoyed strong bipartisan support. Presidents of all parties have repeatedly affirmed the value of admitting refugees and how it reflects our core American values.

  • What other organizations help resettle refugees to the U.S.?

    The organizations that help resettle refugees represent a cross-section of the American people and show the historic unity we’ve shared in helping the world’s most vulnerable find a safe place to live, work, and learn. These nine diverse voluntary resettlement agencies work together at the highest level of refugee resettlement to ensure needs are met:

  • When was the highest refugee admission rate to the U.S.?

    The highest refugee admission rate came under President Ronald Reagan, whose Republican administration famously helped resettle a record 220,000 refugees. Accepting refugees into our country is in America’s best diplomatic, national security, and economic interests—other countries are inspired to do more; the foreign born who assist our troops and intelligence services are kept safe; those who have been persecuted get the opportunity to contribute to society; and America’s interests are advanced globally.

  • Is my community welcoming to refugees?

    The very heart of American idealism and values is welcoming strangers, especially those who are most in need. The divisive narrative in politics and in the media is a stark contrast from the reality on the ground, where Americans of all backgrounds, belief systems, and political leanings pitch in daily to welcome refugees into their neighborhoods. The current rhetoric against refugees that comes from some circles in America is not a new phenomenon and can be traced back to at least the Holocaust, in which European Jewish refugees were denied entry to the U.S. and sent back—some to their deaths. Americans have since recognized the disconnect that anti-refugee policies present in light of basic American values about welcoming vulnerable people into society.

Refugee Facts

  • Refugees pay more in taxes than they receive in social services.

    Refugees pay on average $21,000 more in taxes than they receive in public assistance after living in the US for 20 years according to a 2017 study by the nonpartisan National Bureau of Economic Research.

  • Refugees and immigrants contribute to the economy of Texas.

    A supply of young, immigrant workers allows Texas to maintain the strength of its workforce and its ability to produce goods and services according to a 2016 report by the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Refugees have the same share of adults with a bachelor’s degree as US-born Texans (Migration Policy Institute, 2017).

  • Refugees integrate after arriving in America.

    Refugees report significant increases in English fluency after 10 years in the US according to a 2016 study by the Center for American Progress. Over 75% of refugees become citizens after 20 years in the US (Center for American Progress, 2016). Refugees own homes at roughly the national average after 10 years in the US (Center for American Progress, 2016). In Texas, refugees are employed at similar or higher rates than native-born Texans according to a 2017 study by the Migration Policy Institute. Reports of low employment rates are often due to the fact that many refugees are widows with children, individuals dealing with mental or physical health problems, or well-educated individuals attempting to obtain the proper credentials for a better job in the US (Migration Policy Institute, 2017).

  • Refugees find jobs.

    In Texas, refugees are employed at similar or higher rates than native-born Texans according to a 2017 study by the Migration Policy Institute. Reports of low employment rates are often due to the fact that many refugees are widows with children, individuals dealing with mental or physical health problems, or well-educated individuals attempting to obtain the proper credentials for a better job in the US (Migration Policy Institute, 2017).

  • Refugees contribute meaningfully to our economy as earners and taxpayers.

    In 2015, the almost 2.3 million refugees captured in our analysis earned a collective $77.2 billion in household income. They also contributed $20.9 billion in taxes. That left them with $56.3 billion in disposable income, or spending power, to use at U.S. businesses.

  • While refugees receive initial assistance upon arriving in the U.S., they see sharp income increases in subsequent years.

    While refugees here five years or less have a median household income of roughly $22,000, that figure more than triples in the following decades, growing far faster than other foreign-born groups. By the time a refugee has been in the country at least 25 years, their median household income reaches $67,000—a full $14,000 more than the median income of U.S. households overall.

  • Refugees have an entrepreneurship rate that outshines even that of other immigrants.

    The United States was home to more than 180,000 refugee entrepreneurs in 2015. That means that 13 percent of refugees were entrepreneurs in 2015, compared to just 11.5 percent of non-refugee immigrants and 9.0 percent of the U.S.-born population. The businesses of refugees also generated $4.6 billion in business income that year.

  • Refugees make particularly meaningful contributions to the economies of several large states.

    In 18 U.S. states—including Minnesota, Michigan, and Georgia—the likely refugees in our sample hold more than $1 billion in spending power. In California alone, their spending power totals more than $17.2 billion, while in Texas, the equivalent figure is more than $4.6 billion.

  • Even more so than other immigrants, refugees take steps to lay down roots and build lives in America.

    More than 84 percent of refugees who have been in the country for 16 to 25 years have taken the step of becoming citizens, compared to roughly half of all immigrants in the country that long. Additionally, 57.4 percent of all likely refugee households own their homes, a figure relatively close to the homeownership rate among U.S. residents overall.

  • In an era when the country faces unprecedented demographic challenges, refugees are uniquely positioned to help.

    Recent estimates have indicated that by 2030, 20.3 percent of the U.S. population will be older than age 65, up from just 12.4 percent in 2000. Refugees can help lessen the anticipated strain this will place on our workforce and entitlement programs. An estimated 77.1 percent of refugees are working-age, compared to the just 49.7 percent of the U.S.-born population. Refugees even outshine non-refugee immigrants on this metric: Only 72.2 percent of that group was working age in 2015.