Appleton to welcome 75 more refugees next year

File photo.

APPLETON (AP) - Wisconsin officials expect 75 refugees from conflict zones to relocate to Appleton next year.

World Relief Fox Valley will expand its part of a federal resettlement plan to welcome dozens of additional refugees from Iraq, Congo and Myanmar, Post-Crescent Media reported. The city is also expecting 50 more refugees this year. They will join 25 refugees who have resettled in Appleton since January.

Kurt Eggebrecht, the city's health officer, said the resettlement process has gone well so far. When the refugees arrive in Appleton, they undergo health screenings. Seven of the 25 tested positive for latent tuberculosis, but it's not a health concern for others in the community.

"It's lying dormant in their bodies and we're getting them the medication they need and observing it so they can be cured," Eggebrecht said. "We saw latent TB with the Hmong resettlement and handled it with no problem."

The refugees also receive job training and literacy lessons to help them acclimate to their new lives.

Mayor Tim Hanna says the initial transition went smoothly. He says he's proud of the efforts made by the city, Lawrence University and the Fox Cities Kiwanis group to provide the refugees with necessities for their new apartments.

"I think World Relief appreciates how we have already integrated the new arrivals into our community," Hanna said. "It's important to remember that these people aren't destitute - they're often educated and contribute to the fabric of our community."

Karen Harkness, Appleton's community and economic development director, said the upcoming initiative to relocate 75 additional refugees in 2015 will be even smoother. She said support systems and partnerships, such as the fire department's basic fire prevention education, have already been forged through the first year with World Relief.

The U.S. took in 70,000 refugees last year and will do so again this year.

After one year in the U.S., refugees are eligible for permanent residency status. They can apply for citizenship after living in the country for five years.