Agency helping refugees faces emergency budget shortfall, shutters Fort Worth office

Refugee Services of Texas, which has resettled far more refugees than it expected in the past 18 months, is facing an emergency budget shortfall and must close its Fort Worth and Houston offices.

The nonprofit, founded in 1978, is one of the leading agencies for resettling refugees and assisting human trafficking victims.

Refugee Services of Texas said it is cutting its workforce by 45% and could furlough some remaining employees. The nonprofit will reduce its workforce from 241 employees to 134 by June 30, according to a news release.

The agency said it will pause new refugee arrivals for 120 days while it reorganizes. It is trying to raise $4 million by June 1.

Chris Kelley, a spokesperson for Refugee Services of Texas, said several unpredictable global crises put an unexpected strain on the nonprofit, including the war in Ukraine and the emergency evacuation from Afghanistan.

“We are asking the public for help during this critical time,” Kelley said. “We don’t have deep pockets.”

Refugee Services of Texas receives some government funding, but must rely on individual donations. Another factor is less money is coming from the tech sector of the economy, he said.

The agency assists people overseas who have gotten permission from the U.S. government to travel to the country as refugees.

Once they arrive, they have six months to become self-sufficient, he said.

This means finding a job and enrolling their children in school.

When they arrive, refugees are given green cards, and they can also get a Social Security card, meaning they can find employment, he said.

Texas is also one of the top three states serving refugees because of its strong job market, good schools districts and welcoming atmosphere, Kelley said.

Texas has resettled 10,594 refugees from Afghanistan, more than any other state, the agency said. Refugee Services of Texas, the state’s largest resettlement agency, resettled 2,720 Afghan refugees through the Afghan Placement and Assistance program and 1,014 from other countries during the same time period, the agency said.

In the past 18 months, Refugee Services of Texas has resettled over 4,700 refugees, which far exceeded expectations, according to a news release.

The agency used its reserves to help the increasing number of refugees.

To donate, visit RST’s website.