About the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration

What is the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM)’s Role in the Department of State?

The Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) is one of the State Department's "functional," as opposed to "geographic" bureaus. This indicates a Bureau that focuses on a particular issue wherever it arises around the world. As described in their mission statement, the focus is refugees, other migrants, and conflict victims. Their goal is to protect these people, who are often living in quite dangerous conditions.

PRM’s mission statement:

The mission of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) is to provide protection, ease suffering, and resolve the plight of persecuted and uprooted people around the world on behalf of the American people by providing life-sustaining assistance, working through multilateral systems to build global partnerships, promoting best practices in humanitarian response, and ensuring that humanitarian principles are thoroughly integrated into U.S. foreign and national security policy.

What does PRM do internationally?

The Bureau works with the international community to develop humane and what are termed "durable" solutions to their displacement. The three durable solutions, are:

  • Repatriation - going home when they are no longer at risk of persecution
  • Local Integration - settling permanently in the country to which they have fled
  • Resettlement - settling permanently in a third country

Who does the work?

The Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) has approximately 130 civil service and foreign service staff. On the foreign aid side, they are divided into geographic offices. The program to resettle refugees in the United States is handled by their Admissions Office. They also have a policy office that monitors and evaluates the relief work conducted by the organizations they fund.

How does the Bureau deliver assistance to refugees?

The Bureau does not operate refugee camps, or otherwise give aid directly to refugees. Instead, in the interests of effectiveness and efficiency, they work with the United Nations (UN) and other international organizations, as well as with non-governmental organizations, that operate these programs. The Bureau manages the contributions to these organizations, and monitors the programs they fund: they make sure they are working properly and ascertain that they are in line with U.S. government policies.

What is the Assistant Secretary for PRM?

The Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) is the head of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration within the United States Department of State. The Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) reports to the Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights.

 

Who are previous Assistant Secretaries?

Name

Assumed Office

Left Office

President served under

Phyllis E. Oakley

September 21, 1994

November 7, 1997

Bill Clinton

Julia V. Taft

November 10, 1997

January 19, 2001

Bill Clinton

Arthur E. Dewey

January 30, 2002

July 1, 2005

George W. Bush

Ellen Sauerbrey

January 12, 2006[1]

December 31, 2007

George W. Bush

Samuel M. Witten[2]

December 31, 2007

July 9, 2009

George W. Bush

Eric P. Schwartz

July 9, 2009

October 4, 2011

Barack Obama

Anne C. Richard

April 2, 2012

January 20, 2017

Barack Obama

 

Job Description  of the Assistant Secretary of PRM

1 FAM 520

BUREAU OF POPULATION, REFUGEES, AND MIGRATION (PRM)

1 FAM 521  ASSISTANT SECRETARY

The Department of State through the Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM):

  • Directs the Department’s population, refugee and migration policy development;
  • Determines the level of U.S. contributions to international organizations for humanitarian assistance and protection-related programs and participates on governing bodies of international organizations to ensure effective use of U.S. funds;
  • Recommends the number of refugees to be admitted annually to the United States to the President and directs programs for selection, processing, and transportation of refugees to be admitted to the United States;
  • Issues contracts, cooperative agreements, and grants to voluntary organizations to provide life-sustaining assistance and protection to refugees, conflict victims, and migrants;
  • Oversees efforts to encourage greater participation in refugee assistance and resettlement on the part of foreign governments;
  • Guides the activities of refugee assistance offices at U.S. diplomatic missions and of U.S. missions to international organizations concerned with refugee assistance, protection, and resettlement; and
  • Uses humanitarian diplomacy to increase access and assistance to those in need in the absence of political solutions; highlights the humanitarian impact of military and political action; and works with partners to ensure transition from relief to development.

Responsibilities: The Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM):

  • Has responsibility for formulating, implementing, managing, and evaluating U.S. population, refugee, and migration policies and programs under the overall direction and coordination of the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights (J);
  • Determines the level of U.S. contributions to international organizations for humanitarian assistance and protection and reviews their activities to ensure effective use of U.S. funds;
  • Directs programs for the selection, processing, and transportation, initial reception and placement of refugees to be admitted to the United States, and the issuance of contracts, cooperative agreements, and grants to voluntary organizations to assist refugees;
  • Oversees efforts to encourage greater participation in refugee assistance and resettlement on the part of foreign governments;
  • Leads Department’s response to humanitarian crises, coordinates policy and programs, serves as the Department’s humanitarian focal point.  Responsible for humanitarian crisis planning and response;
  • Guides the activities of refugee assistance officers at U.S. diplomatic missions and of U.S. missions to international organizations concerned with refugee assistance, protection, and resettlement; and
  • PRM has substantive and coordinating responsibility for 1 FAM 520, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM).