Refugee Resettlement Watch

Federal officials visit refugee-overloaded Lewiston, ME: we feel your pain, but isn’t much we can do

Posted by Ann Corcoran on July 2, 2013

This is a bit of old news from January that I just came across today.  I hadn’t seen it, so I figured you might not have either.

Laurence Bartlett (DOS) and Eskinder Negash (ORR) listen to complaints in Lewiston, ME. Photo: Scott Taylor Sun Journal

Seems that head honchos from the US State Department and the Office of Refugee Resettlement traveled to Maine (and elsewhere) to calm the locals.

But, how many times have we been told that everything is copacetic in Somali-overloaded Lewiston?  If everything was just peachy these two wouldn’t have bothered to go there in the first place.

From the Lewiston Sun Journal:

LEWISTON — Federal immigration and refugee resettlement policies will continue to be felt by local communities, federal officials told a roomful of city and social agency representatives Wednesday.

Eskinder Negash, director of the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement, and Larry Bartlett, director of the Office of Refugee Admissions, discussed immigration policies at Lewiston City Hall.

It was part of a two-day trip through Maine, one of many similar meetings held around the country* throughout the year. A similar meeting was held Tuesday in Portland.

Desired by whom?

Immigration policy is shaped by two factors: a desire to help less fortunate people and fiscal realities at home.

The humanitarian industrial complex wants more refugees, but it’s up to local folks to pay for it and tolerate the cultural upheaval!  That is not exactly the words used, but that is what they are saying!  To me, the “humanitarians” are like little children who want more stuff regardless if Mommy and Daddy have the money to pay for it.

When the “humanitarians” say jump, the feds ask, “how high?”

“There is no greater responsibility than that (which) we get from community leaders to make sure refugees get the support they deserve,” Bartlett said. “But there are many pressures from the humanitarian side of our country to grow this program.”

Too bad that some cities “find themselves” in a tough place!  We are willing to listen but that’s about all we can do!

Cities such as Lewiston find themselves in a tough place with little federal support when refugees begin calling it home.

“In some ways, we have a challenging program and you feel the effects on a community level, and we have to thank you for that,” Bartlett said. “We don’t have all the answers and that’s why we have these discussions to hear what the problems are.”

For local officials, the biggest problem is a lack of federal aid for education, English language and other resettlement programs.

Heck, the State Department doesn’t have money to give to communities (only to our contractors!), and it’s up to the state to decide how much money to send to struggling overloaded towns.  Sun Journal story continued:

Bartlett said his office, part of the State Department, has no programs designed to help at the local level. Negash, whose office is part of the federal Health and Human Services agency, said there is federal help, but it’s limited.

“The money goes to the state,” Negash said. “The money always goes to the state, and the state has all the discretion it needs to use the money.”

Bartlett:  We just carry out the will of Congress.  We feel your pain, but not much we can do about it.  Criticize us, but ain’t nothing gonna change!

Those funding and policy priorities are decided by Congress, the officials said.

“This is the way this country has designed this program to work,” Bartlett said. “We know it works, but it’s not perfect and we accept criticism willingly.”

Readers, if you live in overloaded refugee resettlement hotspots, you must complain to your Member of Congress and US Senators.  And, don’t be afraid of someone calling you a racist! This is one more of a long list of state’s rights issues abused by Washington.

* By the way, not long ago we reported on the ‘we-feel-your-pain roadshow’ to Ft. Wayne, Indiana.

For new readers, click here for our extensive archive on Lewiston, ME.  Be sure to see this post on Maine as a welfare magnet and the role of Catholic Charities in bringing Somalis to Maine in the first place.

For our Maine readers, your Senators Angus King and Susan Collins want MORE refugees and immigrants.  They both voted for S.744, the amnesty bill.

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