Context of Refugee Program Policies and Priorities
The State Department's Bureau for Refugee Programs (RP), the lead organization in U.S. refugee and humanitarian programs, bore Mr. Purcell's imprint from its inception. In 1978 and 1979 he directed the establishment of RP to oversee the growing involvement of the U.S. in international refugee and humanitarian matters, made urgent by the aftermath of the Vietnam War (e.g., Sitikoff ). Earlier, he was officially designated as the first Deputy Assistant Secretary (for Financial Management), where he also functioned as the chief executive officer.
Mr. Purcell was the senior RP management official maintained when the Reagan Administration took office in 1981, and he was assigned as the senior Deputy Assistant Secretary for Programs and Budgets. He was frequently called upon to serve as Acting Bureau Director, as political leaders of new administrations (Carter and Reagan) named their teams.
In 1982, Mr. Purcell was officially named Director of the Bureau for Refugee Programs, a position which he held through most of the Reagan Administration. This position was designated at the Assistant Secretary-equivalent level, pending approval of legislation by the Congress to grant statutory Assistant Secretary status.
During a critical period of unprecedented refugee and migration crises around the world, the U.S. Refugee Program became internationally recognized as authorities and advocates for compassionate, principled, and accountable humanitarian response.
During the implementation of The Refugee Act of 1980, RP helped implement the Act. The scope of RP expanded from a single regional focus (Southeast Asia) to a global view. The United States became the undisputed leader among governments addressing these issues internationally.
The Refugee Bureau team were humanitarian-driven professionals that helped make the U.S. Refugee Program mission and spirit work at home and around the world.
The book is in finished manuscript phase and with a book agent for development. The story records the U. S. refugee team success, located in the State Department, through persistent and heroic effort. Prologue focus is on Syria refugee crisis and asylum needs. Epilogue continues looking toward a better future for today's refugees.