Wisconsin state officials, organizations wait for guidance for Ukrainian refugees

NOW: Wisconsin state officials, organizations wait for guidance for Ukrainian refugees

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The U.S. announced this week it will welcome 100,000 Ukrainian refugees, but specifics about what that mean for resettlement in states, including Wisconsin, remain unknown.

President Biden attended a briefing on the humanitarian crisis sparked by the war between Ukraine and Russia.

"Ten million people have been displaced thus far, 3.8 million people to other countries, including more than a million children," Biden said. "And according to the U.N., there are thousands of civilian casualties, 12 million in need of assistance."

Wisconsin became a resettlement destination for more than 800 refugees from Afghanistan in 2021. But while the federal government signals it will bring in thousands of Ukrainian refugees, states like Wisconsin are still waiting for guidance.

"Over the coming weeks, the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement will be working closely with the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration and resettlement agencies on capacity planning," an email to CBS 58 from the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families said. "Once capacity is determined, the federal government will announce expected arrival numbers for each state."

Some Wisconsin organizations, like Jewish Social Services of Madison, said they are concerned about resources following the surge of resettlements from Afghanistan.

"I'm really wondering who has capacity," JSS executive director Dawn Berney told CBS 58 affiliate News 3 Now. "I'm really nervous about that because we have already resettled more this year than we typically do in an entire year."

Other organizations are also watching the developments closely.

"We are heartened at the response of the US government to this humanitarian crisis in Ukraine," Lutheran Social Services Refugee Resettlement program manager Mary Flynn said in a statement to CBS 58. "As we continue to work with Afghans right now, LSS Refugee knows that the people in Wisconsin will open their hearts and community doors even wider to serve and support those coming to our country after fleeing terror, violence, and war."

Meanwhile, Sen. Tammy Baldwin joined a bipartisan group of members of Congress in calling on the Biden administration to expedite the unification of Ukrainian children going through the adoption process with American adoptive or host families.

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