What about America’s needy, elderly, and disabled people?
Editors note: That is the question I hear all the time at the local level!
For some reason that I can’t explain, this post continues to be our top post—Tennesseans urging US Senators to block possible border surge to Tennessee—every day since it was published a week ago today. On July 16th we reported on an attack by Progressive Open Borders activists on the Tennessee citizens (and RRW) calling those who are concerned about Tennessee’s own needy people their favorite pejorative—“nativists.”
A Tennessee citizen responds (emphasis is mine):
It’s exactly what you expect out of these groups. Just as soon as you try to have a rational dialogue about fiscal impact, funding priorities and program sustainability, they resort to name-calling.
Despite their caterwauling of anti-this and anti-that, the truth is that the conflict in Tennessee started with simple questions of “what is the state cost for the voluntary federal refugee resettlement program?” and “what if those state dollars were used to pay for services that Tennessee’s disabled citizens are still waiting for?”
The disabled are the more than 7,000 Tennesseans with intellectual disabilities (what used to be known as mental retardation) who are unable to care for themselves.
The federal government has said repeatedly that it has deliberately shifted the costs of the voluntary resettlement program to the states and a 2012 GAO report disclosed that the federal resettlement contractors get paid for each individual person they bring to a state, so they have a built-in incentive to increase those numbers.
Catholic Charities of TN said in their resettlement proposal that TN schools provide “free” English Language Learner services even though in 2012 TN’s state and local governments spent a combined $70 million for English Language Learner services in the public schools.
In 2008 Tennessee opted out of the voluntary federal program. Now the resettlement program is run by a federal contractor who in 2011 said they were going to expand the program in TN – without any input from the state of course. This has resulted in more people, more money for the contractors and higher enrollment in the state’s Medicaid program.
The state passed a bill that simply codified the federal code provisions which require the refugee contractors to coordinate with the state and give advance notice when refugees are due to arrive.
The idea for a local moratorium on resettlement when capacity becomes an issue, came from a federal hearing, and Tennessee’s State Refugee Coordinator (federal contractor) running the program agreed that was okay.
Federal contractor data showed that of the about 4,500 people they brought to Tennessee over a three year period, Medicaid (TennCare) enrollment in this group doubled during that time. During this same period at least one-third of their clients were considered “non-employable” because they were either children or 65 and older.
Contractors enroll eligible seniors into SSI which is also funded in part with state dollars.
Way back when the federal government reimbursed states for the state funded portion of SSI, Medicaid and cash welfare. That stopped in 1991.
This information raised more questions about how state dollars were being spent for a voluntary federal program. In the absence of any state law, the federal contractors believed themselves unaccountable to the state.
The bill to address this would have required the contractors to report for example, how many people they enrolled into TennCare and the cash welfare program. The State Refugee Coordinator initially said the contractors couldn’t provide that information. Then they “remembered” that the Cooperative Agreements signed with the federal government require tracking how many people and into which publicly financed programs they are being enrolled.
The State Refugee Coordinator was also asked to report how many of the students they help enroll into public school also receive ELL services. Again they said there was no way to get this information even though the contractors are receiving school impact grants that they use to hire staff that liaison between the schools and the families.
Isn’t it ironic that while complaining about the possibility of ORR diverting refugee resettlement money to help the illegal immigrants crossing the border, the State Refugee Coordinator was quoted saying that the loss of funds would effect the contractor’s “children in schools” program.
In a more recent article we are told that if the funds get cut because of illegal immigration, the elder refugees (who they define as 55 and older), will lose the “special help” they get that includes bingo games, bowling, and field trips to the art museum and pumpkin patch. These are services which the federal contractors say enhance the “quality of life” for their clients.
What about the “quality of life” issues for Tennesseans with intellectual disabilities? Federal refugee resettlement contractors like to claim that the refugee resettlement program is fully funded by the federal government. They really believe that if they say it enough it will be true. Well, it simply isn’t – even the federal government says this isn’t true.
About the photo: It was published at USA Today (from the Tennessean) in a story about how Catholic Charities, which as a ‘Wilson-Fish’ ***agency calls the shots (along with the federal government) for all refugees going to Tennessee, complains that they might lose funding for their elder refugees if too much money is diverted to care for the ‘unaccompanied minors’ —- all part of a public relations campaign to get Congress to shell out a few more billions for the migrant tide to America.
Most sensible Americans are asking—what about our own needy, elderly, and disabled people?
***Is yours a Wilson-Fish state where Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Services or other entities run the program with no state government involvement?