ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- There are nearly 15 million refugees around the world, and hundreds of them are landing in Rockford to learn English and start new lives.
Each year, around the end of September, the U.S. government decides how many refugees the country will accept the following year. In 2012, 70,000 refugees were allowed to come to the United States.
Catholic Charities places hundreds of them in Rockford. Those families come from places like the Congo, Iraq, Somalia, and Myanmar, formerly Burma. Many of them spend decades in refugee camps waiting for paperwork to be processed so they can escape their dangerous homes. About 50% know how to speak English already, but the other half spends countless hours trying to learn American customs, and the language so they can get a job.
"I think everybody deserves a chance. These people are here not because they want to be, but because they really love their countries, but because they cannot be in their countries," says ESL teacher, Norma Garcia.
Catholic Charities and the United States government work together to make sure local refugees enroll in school and have access to health screenings.