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Reno Nonprofit's Refugee Resettlement Application Pending

A local nonprofit's expects to hear back by Christmas on its application to become an official agency for resettling refugees — despite the reservations of some state and local officials. Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey reports.

The Northern Nevada International Center regularly plays hosts to hundreds of visitors from all over the world through it's partnership with the U.S. State Department.

Now the center wants to become the third agency in the state to help resettle refugees from about eight different countries, including Cuba, Iraq and Syria.

Carina Black is the center's executive director.

"We submitted our application just a few hours prior to the attacks in Paris, which sort of threw a wrinkle in our plan because we really hadn't thought of resettling refugees just from Syria, but from all over the world."

Both the governor's office and Reno Mayor Hillary Scheive have expressed concerns with the State Department's vetting process for refugees — although neither has the ability to override the process. 

Only two other agencies in the state, both located in Las Vegas, currently are approved to help resettle families. Black believes northern Nevada should pitch in to help families trying to escape war and other turmoil.

"Once everybody learns about how deep that screening is then people will begin to feel more comfortable. So I think it is just a total learning experience for our community and for communities across the United States."

If approved, Black says, they wouldn't begin resettling families until the middle of next year at the earliest. 

Julia Ritchey is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.