Refugee Resettlement Watch

SOS (Same old ….) from Chicago

Posted by Ann Corcoran on April 17, 2010

The New York Times has a story this week (another story!) about how refugees are left in the lurch in Chicago.  (Check out Friends of Refugees, here for more details).  I just wanted to focus on this one section of the article.

Even as budgets are slashed, arrivals are surging. Since 2003, refugee arrivals in Illinois have increased 175 percent, and the number of countries sending refugees has gone to 60 from 31. Iraqi refugees, according to the United States Office of Refugee Resettlement, went from zero to 1,298 from 2006 to 2009, making Chicago home to the second-largest Iraqi population in the country after Detroit.

Readers should know that in the wake of 911 the number of refugees brought to the US was dramatically (and I mean dramatically! reduced) so it’s a little disingenuous to use 2003 (39,201 refugees) as a benchmark year.  As a matter of fact, in 2000 we resettled 91,960 refugees ( a much higher figure than today, in 2008 it was 60,192—still down by a third from 2000 levels).   Budgets have not been slashed—the amount of federal funding of the refugee program has just been dramatically increased

And, by the way, although we know Detroit is a huge reciepient of refugees, San Diego claims they are number one for Iraqis (here).

Illinois and nine other states received more than half of all incoming refugees to the United States in 2008, the last year for which data is available. Yet severe cuts in financing —Illinois will receive $2.8 million in 2010 for resettlement services, down from $7.5 million in 2000 — have strained the budgets of local resettlement agencies.

Once again, cherry picking numbers to make the point they want to make which is—- wahhhhh! we need more money from the taxpayer.   In 2000, 3207 refugees were resettled in Illinois. If the $7.5 million figure is correct that means it cost  the taxpayer a whopping $2338 per refugee (every man woman and child!) to resettle them in Illinois.  To paraphrase the Burmese refugee I heard speak in March in Washington, DC (here), ‘where did all the money go?’

Then note that they say Illinois is only getting $2.8 million for FY 2010, but there is no information about how many refugees are to be resettled in Illinois for 2010.  Is it possible that the numbers are being greatly reduced for Illinois this year because of all the refugee horror stories reported there?   The reporter (or more accurately whoever was spinning the story for the reporter) is comparing apples and oranges.

Gee, was it Ed Silverman spinning and whining?

What was once a public and private partnership has become increasingly private, said Ed Silverman, who directs the Illinois Bureau of Refugee and Immigrant Services.

We’ve told you about Mr. Silverman before, here and here (Ethiopian resettlement agency is discussed here too!), and about how refugees are left in the lurch in Chicago.   What he is telling the NYT is a flat out lie.  The resettlement agencies were supposed to be public-private partnerships but have definitely become increasingly funded by the public—with your tax dollars—as we have noted ad nauseum on these pages!   Some resettlement agencies are as much as 90% and up funded by you.  That doesn’t leave much for the private portion, does it?

For new readers:  If you are interested in numbers of refugees arriving in previous years and to what states they were initially resettled, start your research, here.

Update:  Geez!  It never ends.  Here Friends of Refugees has another post this time about Church World Service and its cohorts crying for more federal funding for refugees.

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