Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - With so many stories recently about immigration, both legal and illegal, KGVO’s Talk Back show welcomed Eamon Fahey, Director of the International Rescue Committee in Missoula as the guest of Bob Seidenschwarz from the Montana World Affairs Council.

Fahey explained the work his organization does here in Missoula.

The International Rescue Committee helps the Displaced around the World

“We operate what's called the United States Refugee Admittance Program,” began Fahey. “This goes back to the 1980 Refugee Act, and since that act went into law again in 1980 during the Reagan administration, and as we were seeing a surge of refugees from Southeast Asia after the Vietnam War. Since that time, every presidential administration in September puts a refugee admittance number out there, and that number historically has hovered around 95,000 per year.”

The question was asked about the difference between an ‘immigrant’ and a ‘refugee’. Fahey explained.

The Difference between an Immigrant and a Refugee

“A refugee is an immigrant,” he said. “It's just basically a legal definition for how they come to the country. There are many different pathways for immigrants. There are various visas that one might obtain, such as work permits and things like that. There are asylum seekers, and that's what we're seeing a lot of on our southern border. Then ‘refugee’ is sort of a subset of group and that refugee status is defined by international law through the United Nations as well as the U.S. law.”

Fahey explained why the U.S. has increased the number of refugees being allowed into the U.S.

There are now More Displaced People in the World than in Human History

“One of the reasons I think that the Biden administration has raised that number is there are now more displaced people in the world than in human history,” he said. “The UN (United Nations) puts that number at 117 million people throughout the world that have been displaced. 30 million of those are designated by the United Nations as refugees. Less than 1 percent of those refugees are actually resettled through programs like I just described through the US refugee admittance program.”

Fahey explained the mission of the IRC around the world.

“The IRC is a large organization. We have more than 20,000 staff all over the world working in 40 countries, and it's the only organization that helps during a displacement causing event. So again, it might be in Syria and Turkey, when you have earthquakes; it might be in Afghanistan where we have 2,500 staff, including 70 percent of whom are women in a country where the Taliban has said women are not allowed to work, there’s some pretty remarkable work that we're doing now.”

Click here to find out more about the International Rescue Committee.

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