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Oct 04, 2016

TX Refugee Service Providers Respond to Gov. Abbott

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission gave notice to the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services on September 21 that Texas will no longer coordinate the distribution of federal funds for refugee services. Without approval of Texas’ State Plan for Refugees by September 30, the U.S. DHHS’ Office of Refugee Resettlement will have 120 days to implement an alternative coordination mechanism using nongovernmental entities.


Refugee service providers are grateful for the partnership we have had with the State for over 40 years to welcome refugees to Texas. We hope to continue that partnership and will work closely with the State to ensure there is no disruption in services for vulnerable refugees and other eligible populations in the coming months.


Refugee service agencies receive federal funding to assist over 14,000 beneficiaries who live in Texas. These beneficiaries include refugees, unaccompanied minors, Cuban entrants, victims of human trafficking, survivors of torture, and Afghan and Iraqi individuals who have served with

U.S. missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.


Refugee service agencies, community organizations, health and school districts provide numerous services for refugees and related vulnerable populations including:


  • Employment Services—helping refugees and other vulnerable populations become employed and self-sufficient within 180   days
  • School Impact Programs—helping refugees of school-age adjust in their first year at schools in Texas
  • Health Screenings—providing health checks and services for refugees and related vulnerable populations
  • Education Services—helping refugees and other eligible individuals learn   English
  • Foster care—helping pay foster homes to care for unaccompanied refugee   minors


With these services and additional support from community partners, refugees and other vulnerable individuals and families successfully integrate into their local communities and readily become taxpayers, thriving business owners, and extraordinary leaders across Texas.


As refugee agencies, we are committed to helping refugees thrive and become contributing members of the community, by finding employment, maintaining their new homes, and ensuring that their children receive a good education.


Texans are welcoming and compassionate people. We will continue to uphold those values as we help the most vulnerable among us rebuild their lives in peace and freedom.





Gordana Arnautovic

Executive Director, Bilingual Education Institute

Houston, TX

Contact: 713-789-4324


Cynthia Colbert

Chief Executive Officer, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston Houston, TX

Contact: 713-526-4611


Martin B. Cominsky

President and CEO, Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston

Houston, TX

Contact: 713-533-4901


Jeff Demers

Director of Refugee Services, Catholic Charities Fort Worth

Fort Worth, TX Contact: 817-289-3819


Donna Duvin

Executive Director, International Rescue Committee

Offices in Dallas and Abilene Contact: 214-461-9781


Simone Talma Flowers

Executive Director, Interfaith Action of Central Texas (iACT)

Austin, TX

Contact: 512-386-9145 x302



Avril Knox

Director of Refugee Services, Catholic Charities of Dallas, Inc

Dallas, TX

Contact: 972-246-6010


Melissa M. Lopez

Executive Director, Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services, Inc

El Paso, TX

Contact: 915-532-3975


Paul McEntire

President and Chief Executive Officer, YMCA of Greater Houston

Houston, TX

Contact: 713-659-5566


Jo Kathryn Quinn

Executive Director, Caritas of Austin Austin, TX

Contact: 512-646-1252


Aaron Rippenkroeger

Chief Executive Officer, Refugee Services of Texas

Offices in Amarillo, Austin, Dallas, Houston, and Fort Worth

Contact: 512-472-9472


Daniel Stoecker

Chief Executive Officer, Alliance for Multicultural Community Services Houston, TX

Contact: 713-776-4700


Paula Walker

Refugee Services Deputy Director, Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of San Antonio, Inc San Antonio, TX

Contact: 210-242-3150