Bureau of Refugee Services

July 1975:  Governor Robert Ray appoints Colleen Shearer as director; creating the Governor's Task Force for Indochinese Resettlement.

November 1975:  Three planeloads of Tai Dam refugees arrive in Des Moines

September 1977:  The task force is reorganized and renamed the Iowa Refugee Service Center

April 1979:  A plane from Malaysia delivers 196 Vietnamese "boat people" to Des Moines.  Later that year, Cambodian refugees come to Iowa.

June 1980:  The Lao National Musical Arts and Dance Troupe, 24 families, escape from Laos and settle in Iowa.

January 1981:  Arrivals peak as the U.S. government seeks to relieve the pressure of the influx of refugees to first-asylum countries.

January 1986:  The Iowa Refugee Service Center is placed under the direction of the Iowa Department of Human Services.  It is renamed the Bureau of Refugee Programs.

February 1987:  Several dozen Czech, Hungarian, Polish and Romanian refugee families resettle in Iowa.

August 1988:  Des Moines, Sioux City and Davenport are designated as "cluster sites" for refugee resettlement.

March 1989:  The organization is renamed the Bureau of Refugee Services.  Wayne Johnson is appointed Bureau Chief.

December 1991The Bureau of Refugee Services received the top score in the nation for its refugee employment services.

October 1992:  The Bureau received the highest national ranking for accomplishments in refugee employment, minimizing out-migration, affiliate monitoring, headquarters' interview reporting and assurances.

February 1993:  The first Bosnian refugee families arrive.

September 1993:  The first Burmese dissident arrives, settling in Sioux City.

June 1995:  Iowa becomes the largest site for Sudanese refugees

August 1998 The first Liberian refugees are resettled by the Bureau.

May 1999:  The first Kosovar refugees are resettled in the state.

April 2003 The Bureau opens the Assessment, Training and Placement Center

September 2005:  The Bureau closes that last of its filed offices.  The only remaining office is in Des Moines

June 2008:  The first Bhutanese refugees are resettled by the Bureau.


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