Posted on May 1, 2024

Arkansas Lawmakers Question Implementation of Federal Refugee Resettlement Program

Antoinette Grajeda, Arkansas Advocate, April 26, 2024

Arkansas lawmakers on a split vote approved an amended Department of Human Services appropriations bill Thursday and promised continued discussion about the state’s involvement in a federal refugee resettlement program.

The Joint Budget Committee advanced an amended version of House Bill 1077 that changed some appropriations for DHS’ Division of County Operations, but the refugee program’s appropriation remained at $272,846.

Van Buren Republican Rep. Ryan Rose said his qualms about DHS issuing a $65,000 subgrant to the state’s social services designee for the refugee program, Canopy Northwest Arkansas, shouldn’t “torpedo” the Division of County Operations’ budget.


Rose said after this contract ends, the Legislature should not send more money to the nonprofit organization.

“For a number of us, the challenge is we have significant concerns with the funding going to an organization that has the reputation that it does in this arena and that the only security we have on these individuals who come into our state is that they’re federally vetted,” Rose said. “That’s the only kind of outlier there is, hey, we should feel comfortable because they’re federally vetted, which doesn’t give me any comfort.”


Rose told the Advocate concerns have been voiced by legislators and local residents about the impact of refugee resettlement and the transparency of organizations involved, such as Canopy NWA, which has resettled hundreds of refugees.

“This has raised questions about potential strains on resources, infrastructure and social services in our state,” Rose said. “Additionally, there are concerns about the ideological alignment of organizations like Canopy NWA with the values and priorities of our communities.”