Illustration by Scott Gordon; images via Wikimedia Commons (public domain)

Series: Refugee Resettlement In Wisconsin

Fleeing conflict and persecution around the world, refugees are a small but significant part of Wisconsin's population. While it's not the biggest destination for resettlement in the United States, the state is home to thousands of people who arrived as refugees from several dozen countries. A Hmong community took root across Wisconsin in the 1970s, and a small Somali community settled in rural Barron County in the 1990s, but large numbers of refugees from countries including Burma, Iraq and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have arrived in the 21st century. People seeking refugee status in the U.S. — which is distinct from other kinds of immigration — have gone through an extensive vetting process, but a rise of xenophobia and new federal policies threaten to make their position more uncertain.
In the mid 1970s, Cheu and Chia Vang of Laos moved to the United States from a refugee camp in Thailand — part of the first wave of Hmong refugees to resettle in the United States.
Miss Elizabeth came to Milwaukee from Liberia in 2007. She knew no English. She'd never really even gone to school.
Refugee resettlement numbers in Wisconsin have dropped by two-thirds between 2016-2017. Scott Gordon of WisContext discusses how U.S. policies in 2017 helped shape the decline.
Shortly after his inauguration, President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning refugees from coming into the U.S. Mary Flynn, refugee program director for Lutheran Social Services, discuses how legal turmoil surrounding the order has affected resettlement in Wisconsin.
More than 15,000 refugees from Syria resettled in the U.S. last year, but only 119 people have arrived to Wisconsin from Syria between 2002 and 2016. Scott Gordon of WisContext discuses refugee resettlement in the state.
Mousa Aldashash, his wife and his daughter fled violence in Syria a few years ago and are adjusting to life in the U.S. They are part of Wisconsin's relatively small Syrian refugee community.
Lutheran Social Services is preparing for the possibility of refugees from Syria resettling in Wisconsin.
Mousa Aldashash and his family came to Middleton after escaping violence in Syria.
Stacy Taeuber started the Immigrant Justice Clinic at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2012. The clinic has served over 100 individuals from at least 20 nations in deportation proceedings since its inception.
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There were big changes in federal immigration policy in 2019, including the number of refugees allowed to resettle in the U.S. WisContext associate editor Will Cushman discusses how those changes affected refugee resettlement in Wisconsin.