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The original Massachusetts Office of Refugee Resettlement was created in the early 1980s for the purpose of implementing the requirements of the [U.S.} Refugee Act of 1980 (P.L. 96-212). During his term of office, Governor Dukakis issued three Executive Orders to comply with the federal law. Executive Order 229 set up a Refugee Advisory Council to assist the Mass. Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). Executive Order 257 detailed the policy for the administration of the Mass. ORR. This order was amended by E.O. 265. In 1993, Governor Weld  issued Executive Order 361 which revoked Executive Orders 257 and 265, because, by that time, the Office for Refugees and Immigrants had become enshrined in the statutes.

“The Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants (ORI) was established by St. 1992, c. 133, § 171; [codified in] M.G.L. c. 6, §§ 205 through 208. Its purpose is to promote the full participation of refugees and immigrants as self-sufficient individuals and families in the economic, social and civic life of Massachusetts.”  – 121 CMR 2.050

“The Office administers programs that provide direct services to clients through a network of voluntary resettlement agencies, faith-based organizations and ethnic community-based organizations, which have the capacity to serve the culturally and linguistically diverse needs of newcomer populations.” –

“The Refugee Act of 1980, Chapter 2 of Title IV of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 USC 1521 et seq.) established the federal Refugee Resettlement Program. 8 USC 1521 et seq. authorizes funds for the administration and implementation of social and educational services, employment training and placement, and cash and medical assistance for refugees [supporting the state agencies].” – 121 CMR 2.100

The U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement has a list of “Programs and Services by Locality” for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (published 11/16/2015).

Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program (URMP) is a federally funded program that offers foster care and other services to refugee children who arrive in this country without their parents. In Massachusetts, it is jointly administered by Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants and Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF).

In 1993, in Reno v. Flores, 507 U.S. 292, the U.S. Supreme Court made a ruling regarding the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) regulations related to the detention, treatment and release of  unaccompanied refugee minors. Justice Scalia delivered the opinion of the Court and the case was remanded , sending it back down to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. On  January 28, 1997, the lower Court approved a Stipulated Settlement Agreement which became known as the Flores Agreement, setting minimum standards for the release, detention, housing and treatment of minors in the custody of the INS. On August 21, 2015, the Judge in the Flores case issued an order that distinguishes the “standard five-day requirement” recited in paragraph 12A of the Flores Agreement. She said “At a given time and under extenuating circumstances, if 20 days is as fast as Defendants, in good faith and in the exercise of due diligence, can possibly go in screening family members for reasonable or credible fear, then the recently-implemented DHS policies may fall within the parameters of Paragraph 12A of the Agreement, especially if the brief extension of time will permit the DHS to keep the family unit together.”

On June 20, 2018, President Trump issued Executive Order 13841, “Affording Congress an Opportunity To Address Family Separation” which directed his Attorney General to “promptly file a request with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to modify the Settlement Agreement in Flores v. Sessions, CV 85-4544 (“Flores settlement”), in a manner that would permit the Secretary, under present resource constraints, to detain alien families together throughout the pendency of criminal proceedings for improper entry or any removal or other immigration proceedings.” On June 21, 2018, the Department of Justice filed a Memorandum supporting modification of the Flores Settlement Agreement.


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