The state wants fewer refugees to resettle in Georgia. Georgia has one of the highest numbers of refugee populations in the country. These are people who have fled their home country for fear of persecution. Last year the state asked the federal government to allow half the number, saying refugees put a burden on local and state services.
Women learning English at the International Rescue Committee are new to the United States and to Georgia. Arek Ajou from Sudan is one of them.
"I am very happy when I came here, when I arrive," Ajou said.
They're learning to communicate and how to integrate into life in this country.
"Refugees are enormously successful and are a cultural, social economic boom to the state, IRC Executive Director J.D. McCrary said.
McCrary said refugees in Georgia have an 80 percent self-suffiency rate after six months, the highest in the country.
"That means from the day a refugee lands at the airport, they actually have a job, they are paying their own way, they're paying taxes, they're paying their own rent, they're giving back to the community," McCrary said.
Last year, the state requested 50 percent fewer new arrivals. McCrary said the state department decided on a reduction of 20 to 25 percent. The number of refugees went from roughly 4,000 per year to about 2,500.
"Fifty-percent. That's an enormous request and in fact it's an unreasonable request. We're really not sure what the Governor's or the states reservations are over the arrival of new refugees," McCrary said.
Ajou hopes the state will continue to see the value in other refugees like her. She said she wouldn't survive life in Sudan.
"You will die. You will die if not come to USA," Ajou said.
Metro Atlanta has traditionally been a successful place for refugees because of affordable housing, transportation and close proximity to schools and religious institutions.
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