Refugee Resettlement Watch

Archive for the ‘Reforms needed’ Category

Reader from Maine shares his comments to US State Department

Posted by Ann Corcoran on June 10, 2014

This is one more in a (hopefully!) continuing series of statements (saved from the State Department’s black hole!) that readers of RRW have sent in response to their notice of a comment period on the “size and scope” of refugee admissions for fiscal year 2015.

Longtime readers know that Maine has been a hotbed of controversy ever since Catholic Charities began encouraging the resettlement of Somalis to Portland and Lewiston Maine about 15 years ago.

Here (below) a reader from Maine expresses his concern about the program and asks that it be strictly limited.

Be sure to read yesterday’s post in which we directed readers and those who submitted statements to the US State Department to write to Rep. Trey Gowdy who chairs the all important subcommittee responsible for refugee resettlement and ask that he obtain the statements from contractors that the State Department is withholding from the public.  What are they afraid of?

Ask Rep. Trey Gowdy to demand the release of all testimony from May 29th public comment period and ask him to hold Congressional oversight hearings on the refugee program.

From Michael in Maine:

Dear Ms. Spruell:

I am concerned with the large numbers of refugees (~70,000 a year) that are being resettled in the U.S. I am particularly concerned regarding the large number of people claiming refugee status who are from countries containing significant populations that are not friendly with the U.S. Unfriendly populations often include people who are not aligned with the countries’ governments, so just because these people are refugees does not mean that they are pro-American.

I do not wish for anyone to be forced to live under oppression, but in many, and perhaps most, cases it seems to me that it would be better to try to resettle refugees in less oppressive countries more similar to or nearer to their home country rather than to the U.S. Moreover, there is great concern that the number of refugees we are letting in currently is so great that it is overwhelming our ability to properly screen applicants for fraudulent claims.

I think that we could probably get by with a refugee program that relocated about 1/5 of the people to the U.S. that we do now; moreover, our program ought to prioritize refugees based on how easily they can be assimilated to the U.S. For those who cannot easily be assimilated to our culture we should find alternate countries and help them to immigrate to them instead.

I am also very concerned about the influence of various Refugee advocacy groups, such as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, who gain financially from government contracts when the number of refugees increases.

Given that (for reasons that remain unclear to me) there will be no public hearing this year, I would like for a complete record of all comments to be published.

I am sending written copies of this mail to Anne C. Richard, Asst. Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, and to the proper House and Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittees. I am also sending electronic copies to my Senators and my Congresswoman, using their on-line contact forms.


cc: Senator Susan Collins, Senator Angus King, Representative Chellie Pingree,
House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, US Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security.

See all of our posts relating to this year’s State Department hearing by clicking here.  And, see our extensive archive on Maine, here.

And, by the way, if anyone gets any interesting response from an elected representative, send it our way.

One last thing—next week the Lutherans send 50 refugees to Capitol Hill to lobby Congress (for more money and more refugees), so it’s especially important that you get your statements in at this time as well.

Posted in Changing the way we live, Reforms needed, Refugee Resettlement Program, Taxpayer goodies, Testimony for 5/29/2014 State Dept. meeting | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Comment on FY2015 refugee program to US State Department from Illinois reader

Posted by Ann Corcoran on June 9, 2014

We assume regular readers have been following our news from the US State Department about how first they cancelled this year’s public opportunity to give testimony (in person) on the “size and scope” of refugee admissions for FY2015, and then they have foolishly kept all written testimony secret by refusing to release it to the public.

Rep Trey Gowdy is a busy guy, but we feel sure he can do more than one thing at a time!

If you sent testimony to the State Department * for the May 29th deadline, please be sure, in addition to sending a copy to your elected representatives, to send it on paper to:

Rep Trey Gowdy, Chairman

House Judiciary Committee

Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security

2138 Rayburn House Office Bldg.

Washington, DC 20515

Tell the Chairman what happened and that you have not been allowed to see the testimony, especially the testimony of the refugee contractors which are almost completely funded with federal tax dollars, and ask him to investigate.

We offered to publish your comments, since the State Department won’t.

Here is John’s excellent testimony from Illinois:

Dear Ms. Spruell,

I am sending this email so that Anne C. Richard, Asst. Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, US State Department, Washington, DC can read my comment regarding the admission of more refugees. I will be sending the same to some members of the US Senate Judiciary Committee and also to House of Representative Judiciary Committee who are part of the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security.

First and foremost I am against that more refugees should be admitted. I am speaking from personal experience and will recount what I have personally experienced. I have met many of these so called refugees and they all come here based on some silly reason that they are being persecuted, and they get admitted to the US. We must put an end to this because most of them use the refugees program as a ticket to gaining permanent residency here in the US. Most of them come from cultures that are totally alien to the United States and do not assimilate at all. Their children too do not assimilate and even if they do, they end up assimilating into the gang culture by getting into black or Hispanic gangs. Most of them still keep the ways of their so called oppressive homelands and have no intention of becoming American.

I am not saying that all refugees are bad or that they are all falsely trying to get into the United States. I have met people from European countries that came here as refugees and they are happy to be here and bless this country and its people for welcoming them with open arms. That is because they have values common with America. I have met refugees from African, Asian and Hispanic countries and they do not have any gratitude to America. They are mostly on welfare and curse America especially white Americans. Why does America have to put up with this sort of ingratitude? I think it would be better if countries that are similar in culture to the homeland of these refugees, should take them. For example, if a group of refugees come from Asia, then find an Asian country that has a similar culture as this group. There they will be happy and content in a culture they miss so much and familiar to them. India and Pakistan can take in refugees from Nepal, Burma and Bangladesh. Muslim refugees can go to Saudi Arabia or Kuwait or some other rich Muslim country. Same for a group of Africans and Hispanics, find a country that has similar African or Hispanic culture as these groups. It is simple as that. No matter where people go, they still have their hearts in their homelands and culture. American culture is alien to these people.

I know of one African person in particular who came here on a student visa and then immediately after coming here applied for refugee status. He was very nice and worried that he would not get his refugee application approved. He even claimed that he was in a so called concentration camp where he was made to do forced labor. Now he had not one scar on his body or a healed broken bone to show that he had been forced to do any work and he was healthy as any person I know. He even took that story to his immigration interview and magically he got his application approved in 6 days. After that he started condemning America and Americans especially white Americans claiming that their generosity is all a sham. Really!!! If Americans were all just doing it for a sham, why would we even bother to bring so many of them? Now why do we need these ingrates?

Therefore we need to be careful about who we let into the country. Another good example is the case of the Somalis that come here and then go back to Somalia to be trained as terrorists to destroy Americans and other westerners. We have seen the same case with the Boston Bombers last year. This is clearly a case of biting the hand that feeds them. If we do not learn from these lessons, I am afraid that we are only destroying ourselves. We have no one to blame but ourselves. Blood of innocent Americans killed by refugees will be on the hands of people like you and other politicians that allow these future terrorists to enter the US. We also need to stop the importation of the Hmong, Laotian, Cambodian and Vietnamese refugees into the US. The war ended a long time ago and we need not keep our promise to the Hmong people that if they helped us in the Vietnam War, they could immigrate to the US. That promise expired a long time ago. Those that came when the war ended have somewhat assimilated, but those that are coming in now are not doing so and are joining gangs.

If churches want to bring in people, then they should not be funded by us taxpayer money nor should they be diverting the money taken from the collection plate for refugee programs. They need to come up with their own money and fund and also support these refugees and not allow them to become public charges. The religious organizations and churches should be ashamed that they are misusing Christ’s teachings of charity to bring in people who are not compatible with American society. Moreover, they bring in these refugees to fill in the pews which are unfortunately being abandoned by the Americans.

Therefore I humbly ask that we limit the refugees that come in. We cannot be the welfare state that takes anyone in that claims to be in trouble. There is a shortage of jobs in the United States and Americans are out of work. The refugees together with legal immigrants, work visa workers, and illegals fighting for jobs, Americans who are legally entitled to have a job are being short changed. We need to learn from Australia. Put AMERICANS FIRST! I repeat, it would be good for America and for the refugees to put the refugees in a country that has a similar culture as them, and only let into America people whose culture is similar to ours and who can assimilate. Therefore I say that we almost completely scrap off this program and let in only very limited people who really are being persecuted and who can assimilate and contribute to American society. Not destroy it.


* Even if you didn’t send testimony, tell Rep. Gowdy what you think of the refugee program and ask him to hold hearings!  And, by the way, I learned recently that sending a letter the old fashioned way, on paper, is more attention-getting than sending it electronically.

Posted in Reforms needed, Refugee Resettlement Program, Taxpayer goodies, Testimony for 5/29/2014 State Dept. meeting | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

Springfield, MA: State/city agencies stepping in to help impoverished Somali refugee family

Posted by Ann Corcoran on June 7, 2014

How many more like this family across America?


The family of twelve was recently removed from their roach infested rental property where the electric bill had gone unpaid as well. MassLive File photo / John Suchocki


We recently learned that 63% of Minnesota’s Somalis live below the poverty line and in Oregon the estimate is higher than that (67% ).  I wonder what it is in every state where Somalis have been located?

Come and get it!

Massachusetts (home state of the ‘brains’ behind the refugee program—the now deceased Ted Kennedy) has been a “welcoming” state for refugees, as was the city of Springfield (originally!), so I guess they knew what they were getting in to, but I’m not so sure the taxpayers there were fully aware (until now!).   See Springfield mayor wants moratorium.

From MassLive (emphasis mine):

SPRINGFIELD – A lawyer for the city’s Housing office said Friday that the city remains committed to helping two refugee families that were left homeless two weeks ago when their Union Street apartment was condemned.

The two families, originally from Somalia and consisting of three adults and 12 children, have spent the last two weeks in a Greenfield hotel. Some assistance has been provided to the families by local and state agencies, officials said.

“The city remains committed to assuring that the families are afforded safe and sanitary housing,” said Lisa C. DeSousa, associate city solicitor. “We are looking forward to working with social service agencies that are charged with assisting refugee families in these types of situations.”


The school-aged children have been transported daily from the Greenfield hotel to their Springfield schools.

The state Department of Children and Families and state Department of Transitional Assistance are believed to be helping the families.

Maybe it’s time for the cost of saving these impoverished families to fall on the US State Department and the Office of Refugee Resettlement (in Health and Human Services).  Maybe if the cost came out of their federal budget hides, instead of state and local taxpayers’ piggy banks, Congress would begin to pay attention.

I know, I know, it still comes from the taxpayers ultimately, but it’s about sending a message to the one government body that could stop the insanity.


Posted in Changing the way we live, Community destabilization, diversity's dark side, Muslim refugees, Reforms needed, Refugee Resettlement Program, Resettlement cities, Taxpayer goodies, Who is going where | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

It is not too late, you have until 5 p.m. Eastern time today to submit comments to the US State Department

Posted by Ann Corcoran on May 29, 2014

If you are arriving here for the first time and missed it, the US State Department is accepting comments on how many refugees the US will resettle in Fiscal Year 2015 and from where they will come.

Go here for instructions on how to submit your testimony.

We encourage all of you to make your opinions known.  You do not need to be an expert!  None of us are!

You don’t need to get your statement to your elected officials today, you can do that tomorrow or next week, but please get your testimony to the State Department by 5 p.m. Eastern today!

Don’t forget to ask for a complete copy of the hearing/consultation record.  Last year, readers of RRW submitted more comments than the “humanitarian” lobby did.

All of our previous posts on this year’s hearing are here.

Posted in Reforms needed, Refugee Resettlement Program, Testimony for 5/29/2014 State Dept. meeting | 6 Comments »

Travel loans for refugees and the audacity of those money-grubbing Lutherans

Posted by Ann Corcoran on May 29, 2014

I don’t know whether to roll on the floor laughing my head off or scream when I see brazen fundraising appeals like this one from Linda Hartke (who makes over $200,000 a year as CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service).

Linda Hartke, LIRS CEO, already collecting over $1.5 million a year from refugee travel loans, now wants followers to pony-up with more cashola!

Here is what she said in a recent appeal to followers about travel loans:

Today, refugees from Syria, Burma, the Congo, and other conflict-ridden countries are looking to you … will you please provide welcome and support for people in desperate need with your gift today?

All refugees pay their own travel fees to come to the US. If they are unable to pay, they are extended an interest-free loan and brought to the US on the condition that they agree to repay every dollar spent on their transport.   [So you are probably thinking, great! they repay their taxpayer-funded travel loans—ed]

Fortunately, refugees are not alone — not even in this!

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service compassionately manages the loan repayment of the travel expenses for every refugee we help resettle, so they can thrive. [I am speechless, who the h*** wrote this sentence? Compassionate? Manage the loan?—ed]

As Raghu [the poster child for this fundraising appeal—ed] and his family worked to establish themselves in their new community, they also relied on your support to help them manage the repayment of their travel loans.

So what is my problem, you ask?

The majority of refugees arriving in the US receive a TAXPAYER-FUNDED travel loan—none of them have the thousands and thousands needed for airfare if they are truly impoverished “refugees.”

The contractors, including Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, act as the collection agencies to attempt to wring the cash out of newly arrived refugees and then THEY POCKET 25% OF WHAT THEY COLLECT   (Judy says that using caps means someone is shouting—I am, and in red type too!).   That 25% does not return to the US Treasury! 

So Linda Hartke is trying to raise even more money from supporters claiming they need it to “manage” the loans!  Don’t get me wrong, I am all for private people paying for this, but the over $1.5 million they get of your taxpayer dollars a year is not enough to “manage the loans?”

Don’t believe me, go to this audited financial statement (p.12) for LIRS for 2012 and 2013 and check this out!

LIRS earned $1.7 million in 2013 and $1.6 million in 2012 as “service fees” for collecting those travel loans of your money!  I bet this little “service fee” deal they have with the State Department isn’t even legal!

Page 12 (emphasis is mine):

LIRS acts as an agent for the collection of transportation loans for refugee resettlement through the International Organization for Migration (“IOM”). Collections are remitted to IOM net of servicing fees earned which are 25% of loan collections. Included in servicing fees, LIRS earned fees of $1,763,296 and $1,630,183 as of December 31, 2013 and 2012, respectively.

IOM is another federal contractor!

And, by the way, the figures I have been using for LIRS income need to be updated—they have risen significantly according to this same financial audit.

Are you sitting down?

I gave you figures for their finances in 2011, here, and reported that they received $30 million from US and state taxpayers.  Now get this.  This audited financial report tells us the following information for years 2012 and 2013:  In 2012 they got $40.4 million from government grants and in 2013 it jumped to $46.4 million!

Page 6 (be sure to check out the less than $1 million they received from parishes).

2012 income from government: $40,417,752  and total income was $41,757,818 making it 97% that you supplied them via your tax dollars.

2013 income from government: $46,414,735 and total income was $48,393,131 making it 96% from you!

Endnote:  I am not saying that all Lutherans are money-grubbers but these ones sure are!  And, on the travel loans they are not alone.  I haven’t the time to check the numbers, but last I looked the US Conference of Catholic Bishops was raking in over $3 million in this same travel loan kickback scheme.



Posted in Changing the way we live, Reforms needed, Refugee Resettlement Program, Taxpayer goodies | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

What you need to know about Wilson-Fish

Posted by Ann Corcoran on May 27, 2014

 Editors note: One of the primary purposes of RRW is to educate readers about how the complex Refugee Resettlement program of the US State Department and the US Department of Health and Human Services (Office of Refugee Resettlement) works. When you have some basic understanding of how it operates (and how it may have been changed from its original legislative intent) you will be much more effective in demanding accountability for the taxpayers of your state and others (including the refugees!) who will be impacted by the program.

This is a states’ rights issue!

If you live in one of the following 11 states you should be paying close attention to how the program is run in your state and begin questioning whether the federal government has the constitutional authority to pass off a federal program to a non-profit group which effectively eliminates, or nearly eliminates, any state control of how state tax dollars are spent.

Do you live in one of these Wilson-Fish states?

Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee or Vermont.

A grassroots volunteer has prepared this important Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and answers about the federal Wilson-Fish program.

Remember! Three days left to tell the State Department what you think should be the size and scope of the entire refugee program for FY2015.

Holly Johnson (TN Catholic Charities) left, and Jan Reeves (Idaho Mountain States Group) right, call the shots on refugee resettlement in their Wilson-Fish states.

What is Wilson-Fish?

There are 3 ways in which the federal government disburses the 8 months of federal refugee cash assistance (RCA) and refugee medical assistance (RMA) funds to eligible refugees.(1)  These funds are disbursed through:

• a state administered program, or,
• a public-private partnership program, or
• a Wilson-Fish “alternative” program

The Wilson-Fish alternative (so named for its Congressional sponsors) was added in 1984 as an amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Act. The amendment authorized the Secretary of Health and Human Services to implement alternative projects for refugees:

“[t]he Secretary shall develop and implement alternative projects for refugees who have been in the United States less than thirty-six months, under which refugees are provided interim support, medical services, support services, and case management, as needed, in a manner that encourages self-sufficiency, reduces welfare dependency, and fosters greater coordination among the resettlement agencies and service providers.”

The Wilson-Fish amendment was initially introduced as part of the FY1985 Continuing Resolution on Appropriations. On October 2, 1984 when Senator Wilson introduced Amendment No. 6965, he stated very clearly that:

“The specific intention of this amendment is to encourage refugee self-support and employment in California, a State which consistently receives at least 22 percent of all incoming refugees. A disproportionate number of refugees end up on welfare rolls. The language in this amendment will allow alternative approaches to this welfare dependency cycle.” (emphasis added)

In contrast to the “specific intent” of the Wilson-Fish amendment, the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement has unilaterally and without legislative authorization, used the Wilson-Fish alternative to continue resettling refugees in states where the State has decided to discontinue participating in this non-mandatory federal program.

For example, the 1995 notice of available funding for Wilson-Fish projects states that “This announcement [for funding Wilson-Fish projects] also provides for an alternative project to be a vehicle to continue resettlement programs in States where the State government chooses not to administer RCA/RMA or equivalent programs.”

The U.S Office of Refugee Resettlement website states that “the purposes of the Wilson-Fish program are to:

~Increase refugee prospects for early employment and self-sufficiency

~Promote coordination among voluntary resettlement agencies and service providers

~Ensure that refugee assistance programs exist in every state where refugees are resettled”

The last “purpose” added by the federal agency, is not supported by either the language or intent of the Wilson-Fish statutory language.

Why did Congress feel there was a need to add an alternative program like Wilson-Fish?

Sen. Pete Wilson from California was the Senate sponsor of the Wilson-Fish amendment. When he introduced the amendment he stated very clearly his concern about the high rate of refugee welfare dependency, combined with the high number of refugees being resettled in his state.

His concerns were well founded. Center for Immigration Studies fellow, Don Barnett who has been researching and writing about issues related to refugee resettlement notes that:

“According to the latest data available, a federal study of refugees who have been in the country 5 years or less, the unemployment rate for refugees was 21 percent compared with 9 percent for the U.S. population in 2010. Twenty-six percent were dependent on cash assistance, 63 percent were in the food stamp program and 48 percent were in Medicaid or short-term federal Refugee Medical Assistance. The federal welfare program SSI is a good indicator of long-term welfare dependency rates. It is generally a lifetime entitlement and usually includes Medicaid and other social services. The federal study of arrivals over the previous five years found an 11.6 percent rate of usage – about 2.5 times the national average.

Most of this cost is borne by the federal taxpayer, but programs such as Medicaid have state cost components as well.”

How do states decide if they want to be a Wilson-Fish state?

The U.S. Office for Refugee Resettlement receives the application and decides. The scope of services available to refugees from a Wilson-Fish program is similar to that of the State-Administered Refugee Resettlement Programs, which in turn is similar to regular domestic public assistance programs. States, voluntary resettlement agencies, and other nonprofit refugee resettlement organizations may apply to initiate a Wilson-Fish program.

In several states, the State decided to withdraw from the federal refugee resettlement program. Thereafter, the U.S. Office for Refugee Resettlement (ORR) selected a refugee resettlement agency to operate as the “state designee” for purposes of receiving and disbursing federal funds to refugees who are not eligible for state Medicaid and cash welfare programs. In these states, the resettlement agency applied directly to the ORR to operate a Wilson-Fish project.

For example, data from Tennessee shows that once the state withdrew from the program and the federal contractor took over operating the program, resettlement numbers increased by approximately 66%. Why? The 2012 U.S. General Accounting Office report “Greater Consultation with Community Stakeholders Could Strengthen Program” documented the major contributing factor:

“Because refugees are generally placed in communities where national voluntary agency affiliates [local offices] have been successful in resettling refugees, the same communities are often asked to absorb refugees year after year. One state refugee coordinator noted that local affiliate funding is based on the number of refugees they serve, so affiliates have an incentive to maintain or increase the number of refugees they resettle each year rather than allowing the number to decrease.” (emphasis added)

Which states currently operate as Wilson-Fish?

Wilson-Fish programs are currently operating in:

~Colorado, Massachusetts and Vermont but the State government still runs the program
~North and South Dakota – State has withdrawn; Lutheran Social Services runs the program
~Idaho – State has withdrawn; Mountain States Group runs the program
~Alabama, Alaska, Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana (only partial withdrawal) – State has withdrawn; Catholic Charities runs the program

The parent organization of Lutheran Social Services is Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, one of the big 9 resettlement agencies that contracts with the federal government. In 2011, their total reported revenue was $31,653,748 of which $30,376,568 (96%) was taxpayer money. Their CEO was paid $204, 186 in salary and benefits.

The parent organization of Catholic Charities is the US Conference of Catholic Bishops which is the largest of all the federal refugee resettlement contractors. Their 2011 reported revenue $72,102,484 included $66,723,452, which is approximately 93%, from federal funding.

Does the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement or the Dept. of Health and Human Services have the authority under the Wilson-Fish amendment to fund a non-profit organization and continue a resettlement program in a state when that State has withdrawn from the federal program?

The Wilson-Fish amendment did not address this issue specifically. All the amendment language did was allow for the establishment of “alternative projects” designed to accomplish the specifically stated goals of establishing a program that “encourages self-sufficiency, reduces welfare dependency, and fosters greater coordination among the resettlement agencies and service providers.”

While the Secretary of the federal agencies must implement the objectives of the authorizing legislation, there is no language in the Wilson-Fish amendment that permits a federal agency to circumvent a state’s decision to withdraw from the federal program by funding a private non-profit organization to establish or continue the program in lieu of the state.

This issue is particularly relevant because of the federal government deliberately shifting the cost of its program to the states, and the utilization of state-funded resources to address long-term needs of refugees.

Funding announcements for Wilson-Fish projects identify two categories of Wilson-Fish projects: those to “establish or maintain a refugee program” in a State that has either withdrawn from all or part of the refugee program, and projects that provide an “alternative to the existing system” of providing for refugees.

Only this last category of project was intended and contemplated by the Wilson-Fish statutory amendment.

Despite this limitation and the fact that the 1995 funding notice, for example, reflected the intent of the Wilson-Fish amendment to “encourage alternative projects in areas where refugees have had a history of extended welfare utilization,” this notice and subsequent ones also state that funding for Wilson-Fish projects are a “vehicle to continue resettlement programs in States where the State government chooses not to administer RCA/RMA or equivalent programs.”

What happens to the mandated consultation process between resettlement agencies and state and local governments when a state withdraws from the federal program and a federal contractor is permitted to use Wilson-Fish as a “vehicle to continue [the] resettlement program”?

The Wilson-Fish State Refugee Coordinator position is paid as part of the federal grant meaning that the “state coordinator” is actually a federal contractor, not a state-paid employee. So if the state government has withdrawn from the federal program, the federal contractor running the program is no longer accountable to the state’s taxpayers or the state and local governments.

Tennessee is a good example.

The Tennessee state government withdrew from the refugee resettlement program in late 2008. The U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) thereafter contracted with refugee resettlement agency Catholic Charities of Tennessee (CCTN) to operate as the “state designee” to disburse federal funds. CCTN then applied to ORR and was granted permission to operate as a Wilson-Fish. CCTN then set up a separate office called Tennessee Office for Refugees (TOR) as a separate department of CCTN. TOR would run the federal program for the state.

Under the Tennessee Wilson-Fish project, the required consultation and any monitoring of refugee resettlement activities in the state, is internal to Catholic Charities and the other resettlement agencies operating in the state. As described by CCTN, their Director of Refugee Resettlement consults with the TOR state refugee coordinator who also works for Catholic Charities. Consult with the state refugee health coordinator who also works for CCTN and who also reports to the same agency’s TOR state refugee coordinator is an internal process highly vulnerable to conflicts of interest. Nor does this closed, self-serving system lend itself to any objective or independent compliance monitoring.

CCTN’s annual reports show that its largest program is the Tennessee Office for Refugees – TOR. CCTN’s second largest program is its own refugee resettlement program which receives funding from TOR.

A 2011 report issued by the Migration Policy Institute, a refugee advocacy organization, claims that after the consultation process, all proposed resettlement plans are provided to ORR and states. “If a state opposes the plan, PRM [the federal agency] will not approve it.” The U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations recommended that in the case of a disagreement among stakeholders over resettlement, the “state refugee coordinator should be able to request a moratorium for the community.”

Under what circumstances would a Wilson-Fish “state” refugee coordinator (who is a federal contractor), working in concert with the other federal contractor refugee resettlement agencies that earn their funding for each individual refugee they resettle, oppose a plan? Maybe if the numbers were too low? Requesting a moratorium would be a conflict of interest for a Wilson-Fish state refugee coordinator.

Following the pattern of what happens when refugee resettlement is privatized, TOR’s 2011 Wilson-Fish application detailed a plan to expand refugee resettlement in Tennessee by adding two new refugee resettlement agencies and by increasing the number of refugees brought to the state.

Are refugees served under a Wilson-Fish project allowed to enroll in Medicaid or receive TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, aka, cash welfare)?

The statutory language of the Wilson-Fish amendment states that:

“Refugees covered under such alternative projects shall be precluded from receiving cash or medical assistance under any other paragraph of this subsection or under title XIX or part A of title IV of the Social Security Act [42 U.S.C. 1396 et seq. 601 et seq.]”

Title XIX refers to Medicaid and part A of title IV refers to TANF (cash welfare).

The Wilson-Fish amendment was intended to address welfare dependency. The U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement has qualified the original language and intent of the Wilson-Fish amendment. The funding announcement notes that only when an application for an alternative Wilson-Fish project includes “alternative medical assistance” will the recipient be precluded from using Medicaid despite the statutory language.

When the Wilson-Fish amendment was introduced on October 2, 1984, Sens. Weicker and Proxmire both confirmed that the language of the amendment was “budget neutral” meaning that the amendment allowing for the alternative projects added no additional funds to the appropriations bill under consideration. Since there was no separate appropriation for Wilson-Fish projects, funding would be drawn instead from funds otherwise earmarked for refugee cash and medical assistance (RCA and RMA) and social services allocations for the State-administered program.

Refugees are only permitted to use either Medicaid or the 8 month federal refugee medical assistance (RMA) – they cannot get both. And they either get TANF or refugee cash assistance (RCA) – they cannot get both.

Since the Wilson-Fish projects are funded with the RMA and RCA funds, refugees served under a Wilson-Fish project cannot also utilize Medicaid and TANF – it would be redundant funding.

Medicaid expansion is particularly relevant to where federal contractors are looking to increase refugee placement. That’s because under Obamacare, states were given the option to make Medicaid available to groups not currently eligible for it. This could include, for example, lowering the income eligibility. And because many refugees start out in lower or minimum wage jobs, more could potentially qualify for Medicaid.

The 2014 Dept. of Health and Human Services briefing titled “Key Indicators for Refugee Placement” included information about which states have expanded or are considering expanding Medicaid under Obamacare:

“One major factor that may affect placement is the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Accordingly, this year’s data has incorporated information on health access determinants including updates on states that plan to expand Medicaid during the final implementation phase of ACA, and states that have ruled Medicaid expansion out.”

Refugee contractors have publicly stated that they will focus more and more of the future refugees placements in those states where there is Medicaid expansion.


Footnote from paragraph one:  (1) Only refugees who are NOT eligible for their state’s Medicaid program can receive the 8 months of federal medical assistance funds. The federal money stops if a refugee becomes eligible for their state’s Medicaid program even if the full 8 months have not elapsed.

Editor:  Note that this post is archived in our category ‘where to find information.  Check it out if you are trying to educate yourself on refugee resettlement and immigration generally.  And, don’t forget to see our fact sheet which every day recently has been our top post (follow top posts in our right hand sidebar)!

Posted in health issues, Reforms needed, Refugee Resettlement Program, Taxpayer goodies, Where to find information | Tagged: , | 6 Comments »

Three days remaining to send comments to the US State Department

Posted by Ann Corcoran on May 27, 2014

Please take a few minutes sometime in the next three days to send comments on what you think should be the “size and scope” of the US refugee resettlement program for FY2015.    

Go here for instructions!  You have until 5 p.m. on May 29th!

Anne C. Richard, Asst. Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration will be the recipient of your testimony. She revolved into the State Department from her former position as a VP for the IRC—a contractor.

It is really simple, you don’t have to write a book or be an expert (none of us on the outside are experts!), just tell the State Department calmly and politely how many refugees they should take and from where in FY2015 which begins on October first of this year.

I’ll be telling them there should be a complete moratorium on the program until Congress holds hearings to review the whole thing and abolishes or reforms it.

And, here are the most important things for you to do!

*Tell the State Department you want a copy of everyone’s testimony (including the advocates’ testimony).  They can do it electronically by making a link available, or the old fashioned way—they can send you a hard copy of the entire stack.

*Send your testimony to your elected officials in Washington and ask them for a response to you on their position on the program.   (You can do this part after you get your testimony in to the State Department by Thursday of this week! 5 p.m on the 29th).

Frankly, it is shameful that several major religious groups and some secular ones are paid millions of tax dollars each to bring more poverty to America and basically leave the responsibility for the refugees’ care on your local community.   For an average of 70,000 or so refugees annually, the program costs federal taxpayers over a billion dollars a year NOT including education, housing, food stamps and healthcare etc. some of which is carried on the backs of local and state taxpayers.  (See our most visited post, our fact sheet!)

If churches and synagogues want to adopt a refugee family for a year or two (until they assimilate and can get on their own financial feet) then they should do that with PRIVATE charity—that is what Jesus would do!   Jesus wouldn’t steal from others in the name of Christian charity!

In fact, those Lutherans in Baltimore who are planning their big lobbying push for June sure better be using private funds for lobbying Congress and not your tax dollars!  Remember they get about $30 million from you and only about an additional $1 million from private giving—they would fold if it weren’t for their permanent attachment to the government teat.

For new readers, to see some testimony from last year, click here, and then scroll back through the posts.  There are 21 posts archived there about last year’s testimony.  Those opposed last year sent more testimony than the ‘human rights’ advocacy gang.

Also, if you would like us to publish your testimony for this year, please send it to us!  The simplest format for me to convert to a blog post is for it to arrive in the body of an e-mail.  Use the Yahoo address in right hand side bar and I promise to check it more often during this week.  Put the word ‘testimony’ in the subject line so it jumps out from among the junk e-mails!

Please help spread this post to everyone you know on facebook, twitter etc.

Posted in Changing the way we live, Reforms needed, Refugee Resettlement Program, Taxpayer goodies, Testimony for 5/29/2014 State Dept. meeting | Tagged: | 11 Comments »

Lutherans organizing 50 refugees to lobby Congress for more refugees and more money

Posted by Ann Corcoran on May 24, 2014

The Lutheran church has all the right in the world to lobby Congress for whatever it wants, but what is so infuriating about this news release is that we know that US taxpayers foot almost the entire budget of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS) and thus we pay for their “advocacy.”

LIRS headquarters near Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. They need taxpayer $$$ to keep it all going!

Here is what we reported a year ago when LIRS was lobbying for the Gang of Eight amnesty bill.  LIRS budget:

Have a look at a recent Form 990 for Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, page 9. They had income in that year of $31,653,748 and, of that, you, the taxpayers of America, gave them $30,376,568.  Their CEO makes $204,186 in salary and benefits.  Where is the ACLU?  No separation of church and state here!   The church is the state! 

Here (and below) is their entire press release yesterday (emphasis is mine).

I find it unspeakably shameful that they should use your tax dollars and the refugees themselves to lobby the federal government for more money and more refugees (LIRS is paid by the head for each refugee they resettle).

What happened to private Christian charity?

World Refugee Day Academy to be Held in Baltimore Event will convene over 50 former refugees

BALTIMORE, May 23, 2014 /NEWS.GNOM.ES/ – As part of its 75th anniversary celebration, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) will host World Refugee Day Academy, a three-day event for former refugees focusing on building advocacy, community organizing, and leadership skills. The event will take place June 18-20, 2014 in Baltimore and Washington, DC.

Fifty-one participants, including two training facilitators who are also former refugees, were selected from a pool of applicants with demonstrated leadership experience, strong ties to their local communities, and a desire to mobilize in support of pro-refugee policy. The participants hail from 27 different states and represent 18 nationalities of origin. Each individual’s inspiring story of overcoming hardship to become a community leader illustrates the courage and perseverance of former refugees. The Academy schedule is as follows:

~Wednesday, June 18th: Academy participants will take part in advocacy training on issues impacting refugee communities and will prepare for visits with elected officials on Capitol Hill.

~Thursday, June 19th: Participants will travel to Washington, DC to meet with Senators, members of the House and their staffers in an effort to share their personal stories in support of pro-refugee legislation.

~Friday, June 20th: Agenda will focus on developing essential skills for community organizing and leadership. Participants will work together to plan year-long initiatives for their local communities. After they return home, the network of World Refugee Day Academy participants will serve as a support system and resource for the work of each leader in his or her community.

For more information about LIRS or World Refugee Day Academy, please contact Folabi Olagbaju at 202-626-7931. Media interested in attending Capitol Hill meetings on June 19th may contact Miji Bell, 410-230-2841.

Founded in 1939, LIRS is nationally recognized for advocating for and with refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, immigrants in detention, families fractured by migration and other vulnerable populations, and for serving migrants through 60 grassroots legal and social service partners across the United States. Celebrating 75 years of service and advocacy this year, LIRS has helped more than 500,000 migrants and refugees rebuild their lives in America.

Press Contact: Miji Bell

There are a few things you can do:

If you are a Lutheran and think this stinks, let church leaders know.  Tell LIRS too what you think.  Then tell your elected officials how you feel and ask for oversight hearings to begin to reform this out-of-control federally-funded program.

To counter LIRS propaganda campaign, it is even more important for you to send comments to the US State Department by May 29th and send those comments to your elected officials in Washington next week and throughout early June.

Posted in Changing the way we live, Reforms needed, Refugee Resettlement Program, Taxpayer goodies, Testimony for 5/29/2014 State Dept. meeting, The Opposition | Tagged: | 9 Comments »

US State Department hiding stats on which US cities receive refugees

Posted by Ann Corcoran on May 22, 2014

Why is that?

For the longest time we were able to access statistics for cities at the US State Department contracted site called WRAPS (Worldwide Refugees Admissions Processing System/Refugee Processing Center (RPC)).

Most of the website is NOT available to the public, but at this public page there had been for years a link for ‘arrivals by destination city by nationality.’    I thought I might be imagining that there had been that statistical category, but noticed just now, when visiting another US State Department contracted site, that indeed it exists (but not for you!).

Here is what the Cultural Orientation Resource Center (gee I wonder when they turned the ‘C’ in their logo into a crescent?) says about the WRAPS/RPC stats:

The Refugee Processing Center (RPC), operated by the U.S Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), coordinates the processing and tracking of the movement of refugees from various countries around the world to the U.S. for resettlement under the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.

Working closely with Resettlement Support Centers, national refugee resettlement agencies, and others, the RPC oversees the use of an interactive computer system called the Worldwide Refugee Admissions Processing System (WRAPS). The RPC uses this data to produce a variety of reports on refugee arrivals per region within a fiscal year, arrivals by state within a fiscal year, arrivals by destination city by nationality, and so on.

To access these reports and more, see the Refugee Processing Center’s Admissions and Arrivals reports page.

What else do they keep from the public?  They keep the stats on the number of Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus etc. that are coming in as refugees, but do not release those to the public either.  Only special people can get further into the password-protected site.  It is all part of the secrecy that is a hallmark of the program.

See a list of State Department “preferred communities,” here.  But, we don’t know how many and what nationalities are being resettled. Is your city one of them?

Don’t forget!  Please send a comment to the US State Department by May 29th (one week from today!) on the “size and scope” of refugee admissions for FY 2015!

Posted in Reforms needed, Refugee Resettlement Program, Refugee statistics, Who is going where | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

Syracuse: Welcoming with “robust” welfare!

Posted by Ann Corcoran on May 20, 2014

This is just one of those warm and fuzzy articles we find ourselves needing to ‘balance.’   It is all about how Syracuse, NY has become a primary resettlement site.  In fact, it is officially a “preferred resettlement site” according to the feds.

Puff pieces like this usually run when there is trouble afoot.  News outlets work with the resettlement agency to get ‘news’ like this out—it is meant to make any complaining citizens feel like they are in the minority and force them to shut up.  In other words, if you aren’t “welcoming” you are mean-spirited and surely a racist boob!

Helen Malina, refugee contractor: We are a welcoming city!

The article is here at Time Warner Cable News (CNY’s refugee community thrives as global refugee numbers climb):

But when a refugee is finally cleared, the highest number end up in the United States, and Syracuse has emerged as a prime city for resettlement.

Experts say that’s because of New York State’s robust public assistance programs and a combination of Syracuse’s relatively low cost of living and inviting community.

“We really are a welcoming city and I think most of the communities that have been resettled here have been well integrated into the Syracuse community family,” said Malina. [Helen Malina head of the local contractor—ed]

Out of the approximately 70,000 refugees that come to the United States every year, Central New York receives about 1,200 of them. About half of those are helped by the InterFaith Works Center for New Americans. The center helps refugees find homes and jobs, learn English and adjust to American society. However, the transition can be a difficult one….

Read it all if you feel like it.

Here is one story about the generosity of the taxpayers of New York and this Interfaith gang.  A new Iraqi refugee came with hypertension.  He had emergency heart surgery and spent the next six weeks comatose and in intensive care while others cared for his wife and kids.  Imagine what that must have cost the generous citizens of Syracuse and New York state!

InterFaith Works of Central New York is a subcontractor of Church World Service (one of nine contractors which then subcontract to hundreds of other smaller contractors making it very difficult to follow the taxpayer money trail).

We mentioned Church World Service just yesterday as one of their head honchos is running the lobbying arm of the resettlement industry—Refugee Council USA.

RRW owes a lot to Church World Service because it was they and their subcontractor—Virginia Council of Churches—that first introduced us to the program when they tried and failed to get a foot-hold and establish a  resettlement office in our rural Maryland County.  There would never have been an RRW without their ham-handed Hagerstown adventure.

Check out our archive on Syracuse which recently made the news because a Catholic Church was turned into mosque and it became a major controversy there.  Looking back I see refugees demonstrated against “racism” in Syracuse a few years ago.  No mention of any of that in this warm and fuzzy piece.

Posted in Community destabilization, Reforms needed, Refugee Resettlement Program, Resettlement cities, Taxpayer goodies, The Opposition, Who is going where | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »


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