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San Antonio Prepares To Receive 500 Syrian Refugees

Eileen Pace

The president has announced that the U.S. will receive up to 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next year, and San Antonio will receive up to 500 of those.

Catholic Charities, the agency that works with the State Dept. in helping newcomers to the U.S. get settled, is ramping up to provide services.

Catholic Charities of San Antonio received 1,200 refugees from all countries last year.  CEO Antonio Fernandez just returned from a national meeting with the State Dept. and other agencies, and he made a commitment to take up to 500 refugees from Syria. For the local agency, that number means a 70 percent increase in clients over last year:

"Because we’re saying 'up to 500.' So I’m saying we’re going to get 200. I don’t know if they’re going to give it to us. That’s what we told the government that we are willing to take."

Services include six months of provisions of everything a person new to the country needs to start a new life, including housing, food, clothing, transportation, education for the children, English and cultural instruction, and in the case of refugees from war-torn Syria, counseling.

"We know for sure that these people have been affected by so much. Things that you and I wouldn’t be able to deal with on regular basis without help. These people have  lost family members, they have  lost their  homes."
Fernandez says Catholic Charities will be adding caseworkers over the next weeks and months – he’s not sure yet how many – to make sure they’re staffed up  when Syrian people begin to arrive in San Antonio.