Executive Order

Executive Order No. 257: Refugee Policy

Date: 10/04/1985
Issuer: Michael S. Dukakis
Mass Register: No. 490
Amended by: Executive Order 265
Revoked by: Executive Order 361

WHEREAS, the Commonwealth has been a home and a haven for immigrants and refugees since the beginning of its recorded history, and

WHEREAS, for more than three centuries people driven from their homelands by various forms of persecution have come to the Commonwealth and found the opportunity and the means to establish a new life here, and

WHEREAS, this magnificent tradition continues to this day, and

WHEREAS, the United states Refugee Act of 1980, Pub. L. No.

96-212, authorizes the grant of asylum to refugees who are defined as any person outside his or her country of nationality "who is unable or unwilling to return to, and is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion," and

WHEREAS, Massachusetts accepts and welcomes the opportunity to take part in our national refugee resettlement program and to carry out our state's exemplary historical role in assisting people fleeing dangers and undue hardships, and

WHEREAS, the refugee experience is a major upheaval in these people's lives and, in order for refugees to successfully adjust to a new country and culture, a period of transition is necessary to learn the language and culture of the new country, and

WHEREAS, the Commonwealth recognizes that refugees have great potential to contribute to the Commonwealth and its communities, and that it is in the interest of all that their potential be nurtured and encouraged,

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Michael S. Dukakis, Governor of the Commonwealth, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Supreme Executive Magistrate, do hereby establish a refugee policy for the Commonwealth and order as follows:

ARTICLE I. State Administration

1.1 Massachusetts Office of Refugee Resettlement

The Massachusetts Office of Refugee Resettlement ("M.O.R.R.") shall be the designated state agency having responsibility for refugee affairs in the Commonwealth. M.O.R.R. shall coordinate and monitor services for refugees provided by other state agencies. It shall act as an advocate for the well-being of refugee individuals and communities throughout the Commonwealth. It shall promote the goals and process of refugee resettlement, seeking to enhance public understanding and receptivity regarding resettlement and to identify and activate public and private resources on behalf of this humanitarian endeavor.

1.2 State Refugee Coordinator

The administrator of M.O.R.R. shall be the state Refugee Coordinator, who shall be appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the Governor. The Coordinator shall develop, implement and monitor refugee resettlement policies and programs within the Commonwealth. The Coordinator shall submit to the federal government, as required by Pub. L. No. 96-212, an annual State Plan for refugees, and shall oversee the State Plan's programs and procedures.

1.3 Advisory Council

M.O.R.R. shall be advised and assisted by the Advisory Council on Refugee Resettlement, established pursuant to Executive Order No. 229.

1.4 M.O.R.R. shall be so located within the executive branch of state government as to maximize its capability for realizing its mission. To determine the most appropriate location of M.O.R.R., the Governor shall establish a task force to consist of the State Refugee Coordinator and representatives of the Executive Office of Human Services, the Department of Public Welfare, and the Advisory Council on Refugee Resettlement. The task force shall report its recommendations to the Governor by March 31, 1986.

ARTICLE II. Refugee Resettlement System

A. Placement of Refugees in the Community

2.1 The initial resettlement of refugees within the Commonwealth shall be a planned endeavor that seeks to identify favorable placement in communities. Such placement should provide the necessary conditions to meet the primary goal of refugee resettlement, which is self-sufficiency.

2.2 To ensure the most suitable community placement, M.O.R.R. shall be authorized to coordinate consultations among the following entities and agencies: voluntary agencies ("VOLAGs") and their national offices; local officials; state agencies, including but not limited to the Department of Public Welfare, the Department of Public Health, the Department of Social Services, the Department of Mental Health and the Office For Children, all within the Executive Office of Human Services; the Division of Housing and the Division of Neighborhood and Economic Opportunity, within the Executive Office of Communities and Development; the Office of Training and Employment policy and the Division of Employment Security, within the Executive Office of Economic Affairs; the Department of Public Safety and the Registry of Motor Vehicles, within the Executive Office of Public Safety; the Department of Education; the Office of the Attorney General; and other appropriate public and private parties.

2.3 The purpose of the above consultations shall be to determine housing availability, to evaluate economic conditions, particularly labor market trends, and to assess community responsiveness, the availability of needed services, and the proximity of supportive institutions and organizations.

B. Transitional Services for Refugees

2.4 Upon placement of refugees in the community, M.O.R.R. shall coordinate the provision of the following transitional services for refugees, as required by Pub. L. No. 96-212, in order to assist refugees during the period they are being prepared for and are actively seeking employment: cash and medical assistance, health assessment and follow-up services, emergency services, information and referral, case management, language skills development, and employment preparation.

2.5 The Refugee Health Program of the Department of Public Health shall coordinate the efforts by VOLAGs and their national offices to provide refugees with a complete health assessment and such additional health services as are necessary to address identified health problems, in accordance with the Cooperative Agreements between the VOLAGs and the Bureau for Refugee Programs of the United States Department of State.

2.6 The above transitional services shall be provided with a view to maximizing their accessibility and cultural appropriateness. The characteristics and concerns of the refugee communities should be taken into account in the shaping of specific service delivery procedures and mechanisms and the determination of their cultural and linguistic sensitivity.

C. Community Development

2.7 Refugee mutual assistance associations are the cornerstone for future refugee community development. The State Refugee Coordinator is authorized to provide funding, pursuant to Pub. L. 96-212, training, and technical assistance to the mutual assistance associations, with input from the refugee community. The State Refugee Coordinator shall consult with and involve the refugee community in determining the needs of the community and the ways and means of meeting the needs.

ARTICLE III. Responsibilities of State Agencies

3.1 Agency Service Plans For Refugees

Those state agencies specified below that conduct programs and activities directly or indirectly relating to the service needs of the refugee population shall immediately undertake an affirmative planning process with regard to refugees. This planning process shall be completed by January 31, 1986, and shall include the following elements:

  1. Needs Assessment: Determining the current and potential requirements refugees have for the agency's services;
  2. Current Use: Measuring and documenting the extent to which refugees now use the services of the agency;
  3. Agency Service Plan For Refugees: Formulating a plan, including a timetable for implementation, that ensures that delivery of the agency's services to refugees meets the needs identified in the needs assessment.

3.2 M.O.R.R. Assistance

M.O.R.R. shall provide technical assistance to the agencies throughout the planning process and shall monitor the agencies' progress in the implementation of their plans.

3.3 State Agencies Preparing Agency Service Plans

The following executive offices and state agencies shall engage in the planning process:

  1. Executive Office of Human Services: particularly the Department of Public Welfare, the Department of Public Health, the Department of Social Services, the Department of Mental Health, and the Office For Children.
  2. Executive Office of Communities and Development: particularly the Division of Housing and the Division of Neiqhborhood and Economic Opportunity.
  3. Executive Office of Economic Affairs: particularly the Office of Training and Employment Policy and the Division of Employment Security.
  4. Executive Office of Public safety: particularly the Department of Public Safety and the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

3.4 Transitional Education Program

M.O.R.R. shall meet regularly with the Department of Education to coordinate the provision of the Transitional Program for Refugee Children, bilingual education programs, adult education services, and other educational programs of special concern to the refugee communities.

3.5 Consultation With Attorney General

M.O.R.R. shall work with the Office of the Attorney General, specifically the Civil Rights Division and the Division of Consumer Protection, in its effort to ensure that necessary state protection and services are available to the refugee population.

ARTICLE IV. Non-Discrimination

4.1 No employee, agent or agency of the Commonwealth shall request information about, investigate, or assist in the investigation of the citizenship or residency status of any person unless such inquiry or investigation is required by federal statute, regulation, or court decision; nor shall any such employee, agent or agency disseminate information regarding the citizenship or residency status of any person unless similarly required to do so. No employee, agent or agency shall condition the provision of benefits, opportunities or services on matters related to citizenship or residency status, unless required to do so by federal statute, regulation, or court decision.

4.2 All applications, questionnaires and interview forms used in relation to state benefits, opportunities or services shall be reviewed by the pertinent agencies, and any questions regarding citizenship or residency status, other than those required by federal statute or regulation, or court decision, shall be deleted therefrom within 60 days of the date of this Order.

Given at the Executive Chamber in Boston this 4TH day of October in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and eighty-five, and of the Independence of the United States of America two hundred and ten.

Michael S. Dukakis, Governor
Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Michael Joseph Connolly
Secretary of the Commonwealth

Contact for No. 257: Refugee Policy

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