Refugees in Virginia

As the political debate over refugees in America heats up during this political season, this series explores the experiences of refugees who are settling, and have settled, in Virginia, and the programs that provide services for them.  The Harrisonburg and Charlottesville areas lead the way in refugee resettlement in Virginia.  Harrisonburg is second only to Northern Virginia in the number of resettled refugees, which numbered 260 in 2013.

Christopher Clymer Kurtz

A recent Brookings Institution report named Harrisonburg as one of the top ten communities in the United States in terms of the proportion of immigrants from the seven countries on President Trump’s temporary travel ban.  WMRA’s Christopher Clymer Kurtz spoke with several people in Harrisonburg whose lives and work are being affected by the recent turmoil in immigration and refugee policy.

Christopher Clymer Kurtz

For refugees trying to establish themselves in a strange land, just like for the rest of us, reliable transportation can be the key to landing a job, or simply being independent. One Harrisonburg bicycling enthusiast is not only teaching refugees how to ride bikes; she is also providing them with their own bicycles. WMRA’s Christopher Clymer Kurtz attended the most recent class and has this report.

Jordy Yager

For the hundreds of refugees who resettle in Virginia, home is a place they’ve left behind. For an update on our series on refugees, WMRA’s Jordy Yager has this story about what it takes to build a new home, here in America.

Jordy Yager

In the final installment of our series on Refugees in Virginia, WMRA’s Jordy Yager takes a look at the next wave of refugees set to arrive in Charlottesville this year, and some of the people getting ready to help them.

Courtesy Tim Leroux

Lots of immigrants to the U-S are not technically refugees under the law, but nevertheless seek refuge here. It’s a population that mostly flies under the radar, but whose work has been vital to U.S. interests abroad. WMRA's Jordy Yager has the next installment of our series on Refugees in Virginia.

Courtesy Mohammed Eitta

For many refugees, faith provides continuity in a world that is otherwise upended. In our latest installment of WMRA’s special series, Jordy Yager looks at how two religious institutions in Charlottesville have helped Muslim and Christian refugees assimilate to life in America.

Jessie Knadler

Harrisonburg is a designated resettlement area, accepting up to 200 refugees each year.  Many of them find employment at one of the big poultry processing facilities in the area, an industry requiring a lot of manual labor and not a lot of English. WMRA's Jessie Knadler spoke to the head of the Perdue facility in Bridgewater to get a sense of the benefits and challenges of this workforce dynamic.

Jordy Yager

Many immigrant newcomers, including refugees, take hourly-paid jobs in the service industry here.  That includes people who in their home countries were restaurant managers, or doctors, or engineers.  In the next installment of our series on Refugees in Virginia, WMRA's Jordy Yager finds one new project in Charlottesville that helps train people for specific work, with the assurance of a job at the other end.

Community Conversation: Refugees in Virginia

Feb 17, 2016

March 5th, in honor of National Listening Month, please join WMRA reporters Jordy Yager and Jessie Knadler, along with WMRA News Director Bob Leweke for a discussion of WMRA's special series Refugees in Virginia

Courtesy of Fern Hauck

Those who come here seeking asylum from violence in other countries, often suffer from years of poor -- or even nonexistent -- medical care.  In the next installment of our series on Refugees in Virginia, WMRA's Jordy Yager introduces us to one such patient, and the doctors at the University of Virginia who focus on the special needs of asylum-seekers.

Jessie Knadler

Remember high school?  Even if those were great years for you, there were certainly times when you felt a little lost, or left out.  Imagine going to high school in another country, with another language, and another culture.  Oh, and you may also be carrying trauma from some horrific things you witnessed in your home country.  WMRA’s Jessie Knadler has the story of a Harrisonburg High School program that pairs refugee students with others who have been there.

Courtesy of Mary Plank

Sometimes, one reason that refugees flee their home countries is to ensure the safety of their children, so that they may have a future. In the fourth installment of WMRA’s special series on refugees, Jordy Yager looks at the community of people in Charlottesville working towards that end.

Jessie Knadler

Last month, the Senate voted on legislation that would have enforced even stricter background checks on refugees from Syria and Iraq. The bill failed by only five votes, but it underscored an increasingly common narrative in some parts of the media – that asylum seekers from Middle Eastern countries potentially pose a threat. What doesn’t get as much attention are all the people in the Shenandoah Valley and beyond who want to help refugees if and when they arrive.  In the third installment of our series, WMRA’s Jessie Knadler explores what it means to be a volunteer.

Mary Plank

In our second installment on refugees in Virginia, WMRA’s Jordy Yager takes a look inside a new non-profit group in Charlottesville that pairs Americans with refugee families in an effort to strengthen community by doing something revolutionary… being a good neighbor.

Jessie Knadler

The world migration crisis has brought more attention to the plight of refugees.  But global terrorism and other concerns have fueled a national debate over whether America’s promise of welcoming those fleeing violence and persecution can be maintained. In the first of a month-long series on refugees, WMRA’s Jessie Knadler looks at who is being resettled in the Shenandoah Valley, who’s helping them, and whether local communities are welcoming them.