Des Moines is an attractive option for resettlement due to job security and safe, affordable housing options. Although compared to other states, Iowa resettles a lower number of refugees from the seven banned countries, 117 Syrians arrived in Des Moines in 2016. The first Syrian family arrived in June and was resettled by USCRI Des Moines.
Carly Ross, director of the Des Moines field office of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, initially said the number of refugees from the seven countries brought to Iowa — 1,387 — seemed low. But Iowa has also seen an influx of refugees from Southeast Asia in the last five years, as efforts have been made to resettle refugees from Burma and Bhutan who have lived in camps for decades, she said.
Ross said USCRI has focused largely on reuniting families of refugees, which can lead to clusters of refugees from certain countries starting over in new U.S. cities. “That’s what’s really happened,” she said. “As our Burmese community has grown, we’ve continued to reunite those families.”