IRC is closing its doors in Garden City

Dozens of residents walk to support local refugees

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (KSNW) — Refugees in southwest Kansas will soon have to find help from somewhere else.

The International Rescue Committee is shutting down its Garden City office this September because fewer refugees are coming to the US.

For decades, Garden City has been a settlement for refugees.

“For 25 to 30 years we were doing it without IRC present and certainly with IRC office here, that was enhanced,” said Garden City Manager Matt Allen. “That effort was enhanced.”

Many refugee programs will continue in the region.

Kearny County Hospital offers social work to help people settle and launched translation services for refugees seeking driver’s licenses.

“It’s disappointing that the IRC is closing in September,” said Ben Anderson, the hospital’s CEO. “Kearny County hospital has been serving refugees since before 2014 and we’ll continue to serve them now.”

Garden Valley Church will continue to help those needing home goods, but the pastor says they’re not equipped to take on some of the IRC’s responsibilities.

“Without them it’s going to be tough,” said Pastor Steve Ensz. “It’s going to be very difficult, because we don’t know how to do a lot of the things that they bring expertise, filling out papers that we don’t have a clue in how to do.”

A spokesperson with the IRC tells KSN in a statement, “In the next several months, the IRC in Garden City will do due diligence to ensure the clients IRC serves are supported through this transition, and ensure the best possible integration support.”

While their absence may leave a void, some think their effect on southwest Kansas will remain.

“They’ve been a great agency to bring the community together and to speak for the refugees,” said Ensz, “and I hope that we can continue to do that as churches, as a community.”

A spokesperson for the IRC says the organization will continue to resettle refugee families in Wichita.