Action News Jacksonville | Jacksonville will be only remaining World Relief refugee center in Florida

An organization that helps refugees make the transition to life in America is shutting down all its Florida offices, except for the one in Jacksonville.

World Relief is closing five offices and laying off more than 140 staff members across the country.
Offices are closing in Boise, Idaho; Columbus, Ohio; Miami, Fla.; Nashville, Tennessee; and Glen Burnie, Maryland.

The Tampa office closed a few months ago and there have been some layoffs at the Jacksonville center.

World Relief leadership said it’s because of the Trump administration’s new cap on refugees.

While a federal appeals court put a freeze on President Trump’s travel ban, it did not change the part of his executive order that caps the number of refugees this fiscal year to 50,000.

“We were expecting to have 110,000. That was what was in place. And then he came and cut it 60 percent,” said Jacksonville World Relief director Jose Vega.

World Relief’s funding is based on how many refugees they help, so Vega said they just can’t sustain their current operations with that cap.

Trump’s executive order said the entry of more than 50,000 refugees would be “detrimental to the interests of the United States.”

“They’re running from war. They’re running from destruction. What they need from us as a community is love, compassion, and I think we have to take out the fear that we have,” said Vega.

The Florida House of Representatives took a step this week to withdraw from a federal refugee assistance program. Vega said it’s not going to hurt World Relief, but it is going to hurt refugees who need that assistance until they can become self-sufficient.

World Relief is one of three refugee assistance centers in Jacksonville, along with Lutheran Social Services and Catholic Charities.

Read more at Jacksonville will be only remaining World Relief refugee center in Florida.