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Study Finds Refugees In Denver Are Integrating To A Better Life

By Mark Taylor

DENVER (CBS4) - Colorado takes in about 2,000 refugees every year, and for the first time a study looked at how well those refugees assimilate into society long term.

The Refugee Integration Survey and Evaluation, or RISE, focused on a single group of refugees during the first four years of resettlement. The RISE survey was administered to nearly all adult refugees who arrived in Denver from Bhutan, Burma, Somalia and Iraq during the 2011 fiscal year.

(credit: CBS)

Kit Taintor is Colorado's state refugee coordinator and believes the program is working.

"These refugees are integrating, they are finding jobs with higher wages, they are able to do things like move from a rented apartment into a home," Taintor said.

According to the report, after four years of living in Colorado 76 percent of all refugees were rated high integration. Just under 60 percent were fluent in English, and 92 percent were employed more than 30 hours per week.


The survey was completed by 327 refugees of the original 467.

"Over time basically the refugee resettlement program works," Taintor said.

Taintor hopes the study shines a light on refugees and immigration that they can be brought into a society and improve the quality of life for everyone long term.

"This study is the first of its kind to answer the question, "Do refugees integrate, and are they able to give back to their communities?" Taintor said. "And we are finding that they are."

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Leela Tinsina was forced out of his native Bhutan when he was 14, and then lived for two decades in a refugee camp in Nepal. He came to America five years ago.

"I feel very proud and honored to be in this country," Tinsina said.

After five years he works at a Colorado nonprofit, his wife works in health care, and the couple recently bought their home where they are raising two boys.

Leela Tinsina
Leela Tinsina with his family (credit: CBS)

Tinsina calls his move to America his second life.

"I want to say thank you to the American people, and the American government," he said.

LINK: Read The Report

Mark Taylor is a weekend morning anchor and reporter with CBS4 news covering a wide variety of stories. Follow him on Twitter @MarkTaylor_TV.

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