|Release from Office of Governor Jim Doyle|
|Wednesday August 4, 2004
|News Media Contact
Governor Jim Doyle announced today that $1,200,805 in federal funds has been made available to four Wisconsin agencies to provide employment, training, and English language education to newly-arriving Hmong refugees. By the end of the year, Wisconsin is expected to receive up to 3,600 Hmong refugees who have been living in a compound in Thailand for many years and will resettle in Wisconsin.
"This summer, we are welcoming the first Hmong families as they make their lives here in Wisconsin," Governor Doyle said. "These refugees are anxious to begin working as quickly as possible, and this new funding will boost our efforts to provide employment and training services so we can get these hardworking people successfully employed."
The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) will receive $675,500 for distribution to regional consortia charged with assisting the new refugees to find employment. The regional consortia have developed strategies to help the new refugee families achieve economic self-sufficiency as soon as possible after their arrival, and to promote their long-term social stability and community integration.
In addition, Catholic Charities of La Crosse will receive $178,170; United Refugee Services of Wisconsin in Madison is to receive $130,000; and Catholic Charities and International Institute of Milwaukee will receive $217,135.
DWD intends to award the $675,500 in employment and training funds to regional consortia currently under contract with the department to provide employment services to refugees. These regional providers serve Wisconsin's widespread Hmong population. The funding for the regions will be announced by DWD within the next two weeks, and will be based upon the number of new refugees to resettle in the area and the region's success in providing employment services.
"Wisconsin has a long and well-documented record of providing effective and culturally responsive services to the Hmong with similar challenges for nearly three decades," said DWD Secretary Roberta Gassman. "We look forward to assisting the new arrivals to be just as successful as their predecessors."
The funds are from the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement. Governor Doyle thanked Senators Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl and Representatives Ron Kind and David Obey for their continuing hard work and dedication in securing funding for the Hmong resettlement.
In July, Governor Doyle appointed a Special Advisory Task Force on Hmong Resettlement to oversee the resettlement of the Hmong refugees. The Task Force is charged with making recommendations on system improvements, best practices, employment connections, housing, citizenship, and access to needed services to successfully integrate the new refugee population into the state. With the announcement of the Task Force, the Governor also cited his commitment to ensuring that adequate funding be brought to Wisconsin to assist with resettlement efforts.
The Hmong assisted the United States during the Vietnam War, when they were recruited by the CIA in the fight against Communist rebels in Laos. More than 300,000 Hmong, fearing retribution after the Communist takeover in 1975, fled to neighboring Thailand. This group of refugees is among the last remaining Hmong in Thailand.