For more than thirty years, Refugee Focus has served some of the world’s most persecuted people living right here in Tucson and Phoenix. Violence and armed conflict chase millions of people from their homes, their families, and their countries, forcing them to seek safety in other countries around the world.
Honoring a proud identity as a nation of immigrants, the United States has welcomed refugees and asylees throughout its history. Every year, the President and the State Department identify global regions in which people have an exceptional need for protection outside of their home countries. These refugees and asylees are then invited to resettle in the “land of opportunity,” in a nation that cherishes the value of uplifting the oppressed.
Refugee Focus welcomes these new Americans with comprehensive resettlement and immigration services by teaming up with them and the local community in their quest for personal safety, community connections, and economic self-reliance. We equip new Americans to find housing, learn English, traverse the city, obtain jobs, and become self-sufficient.
We are a division of Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest, committed to showing kindness, doing justice, and serving those in need.
Refugee Focus opened its doors to new Americans in 1982, shortly after President Jimmy Carter signed the Refugee Act of 1980. Since then, our organization has made it possible for nearly 13,000 refugees to resettle in Phoenix. In 2003, we expanded to Tucson, where we have since resettled over 2,000 refugees.
Prior to the Refugee Act of 1980, people fleeing conflict and persecution were welcomed to the country in irregular waves according to individual acts passed by Congress in response to events abroad.
The 1980 legislation put in place a system that acknowledged for the first time an enduring “annual flow” of refugees and, recognizing a need, provided consistent funding for agencies already actively involved in settling refugees.
This forged the basis for one of the longest running, most successful public-private partnerships in social work.
Organizations like Church World Service, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, and Episcopal Migration Ministries tapped into the new source of funding, paving the way to receive more refugees and settle them across the country rather than primarily in port cities on the East and West coasts.
To increase their impact, these affiliates reached out to established social service providers such as our parent agency, Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest. Their work, along with the state’s economic expansion, made Phoenix, and later Tucson, ideal locations for refugee resettlement.
The tens of thousands of refugees we have welcomed as new neighbors and new Americans exemplify Arizona’s admirable commitment to this vulnerable population. Side by side with our volunteers, donors, and community partners, we are honored to continue serving our clients with compassion, integrity, and responsibility.