Refugee Resettlement Watch

Archive for the ‘Reforms needed’ Category

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. http://www.isedsolutions.org/blog/wilson-fish/wf-workshop-highlights

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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShMI1o_A9FQ

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
410-230-2841, mbell@lirs.org

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 »

Refugee lobbyists plan to bombard Congress during Refugee Advocacy Week; want more refugees and more money

Posted by Ann Corcoran on May 19, 2014

The Refugee Council USA is the lobbying arm for the refugee contractors who might have to protect their non-profit status and their lucrative contracts from charges that they are lobbying Congress for themselves.   News hat tip: Joanne.

Erol Kekic, a former Bosnian refugee employed by Church World Service, is the present director of the RCUSA, the contractors’ lobbying arm. http://lancasteronline.com/lifestyle/faith_and_values/refugee-resettlement-banquet-sept/article_3cce1f6f-ae59-5fb3-adc8-e727c17ad728.html?mode=jqm

If you were thinking ‘why bother’ sending comments to the US State Department and to your US Senators and Members of Congress for the fiscal year 2015 refugee plans (here), please, think again in light of the the fact that the “advocates” are really ginning-up this year for a big push!

I believe they have figured out that “pockets of resistance” are forming in cities and towns across America and they must now push Congress harder for what they want!

Before we give you their latest “advocacy” campaign for the week of June 2-6 in advance of World Refugee Day (June 20th), here are the members of RCUSA (the nine major federal contractors are in red, they get almost all of their funding from US taxpayers!):

Here is what they say on their “advocacy” (community organizing) page of their website about World Refugee Day advance work:

As we mark World Refugee Day on June 20, we invite you to join us in celebrating refugees’ courage in overcoming adversity and the many gifts they bring to our communities across the United States.

Together we can raise awareness about the need for improved policies and services to help refugees rebuild their lives in the United States. This year, we have designated June 2-6 as National Refugee Advocacy Week. Here are some actions you can take to help refugees in your community that week.

~Invite a policymaker to a World Refugee Day event in your area.

~Organize an in-district meeting with your members of Congress. Your Senators and Representatives will be in their local offices June 2-6, making it a great opportunity to meet with them to discuss important refugee policy and funding issues. Introduce them to a refugee!

~Call Congress to support refugee funding and legislation – and get others to join you

~Write a letter to your members of Congress encouraging support for refugees

For resources on how to carry out these advocacy action items and more advocacy ideas and tips, check out the Refugee Council USA’s 2014 World Refugee Day Advocacy Toolkit.

The toolkit is a great resource for you too!  Learn about the bills they are promoting and the committees they are aiming their lobbying toward.

One of the Leftists’ favorite techniques is to tell “stories” (sweet stories only of course) about refugees.  I’m thinking ‘what the heck!’ that is what we (at RRW) do too—tell stories about the programs problems and its cost, and the not-so-sweet stories (crimes, national security, cultural clashes) about refugees as well.

Aim our “advocacy” for restraint for the week of May 26-30!

So since they are aiming to bombard Congress for more money and more refugees during the Week of June 2-6, let’s aim our advocacy for the week of May 26-30 (especially as the State Department comment period ends May 29th).   Since RCUSA has lobbyists and money (some of it yours!) they will surely outnumber our comments and phone calls, but let’s at least muddy the waters for members of Congress!

Check out our Ten Reasons for a Moratorium on Refugee Resettlement, here.   We will be sending those to the US State Department, to Members of Congress and the Senate (especially to members of the key committees)!

Posted in Changing the way we live, Reforms needed, Refugee Resettlement Program, Taxpayer goodies, The Opposition | Tagged: | 5 Comments »

Former refugee worker testified last year; revealed serious flaws in refugee program

Posted by Ann Corcoran on May 13, 2014

Editors note:  As I mentioned previously, I am going to re-post several significant comments that were sent (or delivered in person) to the US State Department for its “scoping” meeting in advance of fiscal year 2014.  This is the first in a series.  All other testimony we published last year can be found in this category (Testimony for 5/15/2013 State Dept. meeting).

Remember you have until May 29th to get your testimony submitted to the State Department.

 Re-post from here (one year ago today!)….

In a must-read letter to the US State Department a 25-year veteran of the International Rescue Committee (one of the largest of the top nine federal contractors) calls for a moratorium on refugee resettlement until the ORR (Office of Refugee Resettlement) and the volags (contractors) get their act together.

Boston on our minds. The IRC closed its Boston office in 2009. But, several other refugee contractors are still doing business there.

Consider this long-time Boston resident’s comments about fraud and lax security screening in the light of two posts we have written in the last two days, here and here.  It all rings true.

Editor:  This is one more, but, by far the most damning, of the testimony we have been publishing in advance of this Wednesday’s hearing at the US State Department.  All other testimonies we have received are archived here.

(Emphasis below is mine)

Ms. Anne Richard
Asst. Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration
US State Department
Washington, DC. 20520

April 27, 2013

Re: Federal Register Public Notice 8241 Comment Request

Dear Ms Richard:

I worked for the IRC in several capacities from 1980 until 2004 (caseworker, deputy director of the Boston office). In 2004, amid increasing budget constraints, I volunteered for a lay off. At the time, my heart was still into the work I loved and I continued to volunteer for two additional years, spending 3 days a week working on the family reunification program, in which I was considered an “expert.”

Early on, I grew familiar with the fraud that was rampant throughout the program, from the refugees themselves (sometimes forgivable), the overseas OPE’s (not forgivable) and on up to the UN (most unforgivable). Most of my colleagues were also aware of it, and while they often joked about it, almost no one did anything to change or challenge it.

In our work, it was all about “getting the numbers,” often at the expense of legitimate screening for “real“ refugees.

To be honest, I never turned a blind eye to obvious fraud, but had been instructed to give all refugee applicants “the benefit of the doubt.” Yet there were many applications about which I had serious reservations. Some of them were classically laughable ( “I don’t remember my mother’s name… let me make a phone call..”). There were more than a few applicants that I rejected (or referred to another Volag that might not have had the same concerns).

Being directly “in the field,” it’s often difficult to objectively see outside the perimeters of our day to day work.

My major concern was helping people re-unite with close and legitimate family members whose relationship I believed to exist in fact. I can’t tell you how many times, after resettlement that those relationships were revealed to be fraudulent. Sometimes the reasons were understandable from a human kindness point of view ( claiming an orphaned niece as a sister), but often those “relationships” were simple financial transactions.

In my long years at the IRC, I assisted many ethnic groups. I can say without reservation that the Somalis were among the most duplicitous. There was a time when I suggested that they swear on the Quran before signing the affidavit of relationship. Most of the time they would flee and not return. That practice was discontinued, being deemed politically incorrect.

All of us in the field know just how weak the “security screening” was. It’s mostly a very poor and ineffective system of simple name checks from countries that for the most part keep no records.

I personally had some concerns about some Iraqi refugees admitted in the mid 90’s.

One of them went on to become implicated in the Oklahoma City bombings. Being a volag worker, I was very protective of him but, having spent hours with him in the emergency room of a mental hospital.  I still have not been able to say to myself that he was not involved.

It is time for a moratorium on refugee resettlement until ORR and the volags get their act together.

Refugee resettlement affects every community it touches, from Lewiston ME, Minneapolis MN,  to Kansas City KS.

The Volags hide behind their time frame responsibility fences. While I agree that they do not have funding to do much beyond initial basic placement, this is hardly adequate for a successful program, when most refugees end up being on long term public assistance.

The present program is really a “resettle and dump on the community” thing. This is not fair to the communities, the refugees or the volags.

ORR has yet to release long overdue federally mandated reports that show welfare dependency rates or employment figures. Some people say that ORR may have something to hide. I tend to agree.

Refugees are not assimilating for the most part. (some argue that refugees should not “assimilate” but “integrate” but , to me, it‘s all the same, since the majority do neither.). The State Dept continues to fund MAA’s (ethnic based organizations) which only keep immigrant and refugee communities separate and ghettoized.

As someone who spent most of my adult lifetime working in this field, I ask for a serious second look at the current program.

After 9/11, I was, as always, very vocal in defense of refugees and the US refugee program , convinced that no one admitted under the program could possibly be or become a terrorist. Regrettably, my mind has changed.

I now believe that we need a moratorium on continued resettlement until such time as ORR can get its house in order and present a restructured program that can provide safe haven for those truly in need and at the same time guarantee that this currently flawed program does not admit persons unworthy of our kind-heartedness or who are unwilling to become a positive part of our national fabric.

I do think the US should continue to receive some refugees, but it needs to be a much smaller and very carefully monitored program. The current one is a huge mess and a danger to our security and a detriment to our economy and society.

Respectfully,

Michael Sirois

No need for me to say anything further, except maybe to remind readers that S.744 (the Gang of Eight bill in the Senate) provides more funding for resettlement contractors and makes it easier for a greater number and variety of refugees/asylum seekers to gain admission to the US.

About the photo caption:  We wrote about the closure of the IRC Boston office here in 2009.  Visit it!

Posted in Reforms needed, Refugee Resettlement Program, Resettlement cities, Testimony for 5/15/2013 State Dept. meeting, Testimony for 5/29/2014 State Dept. meeting | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

US State Department: public invited to comment on FY2015 refugee admissions

Posted by Ann Corcoran on April 28, 2014

Update April 30th:  There will be no opportunity to testify in person this year, here.

Here we go again!  The US State Department is inviting public comment on how many refugees/from where should be resettled in the US in the next fiscal year which begins October 1, 2014.

Your testimony will be addressed to Anne C.Richard, Asst. Secretary of State for PRM shown here with Hillary.

Longtime followers of RRW know that in the past couple of years we have flooded the State Department with critical testimony, while the majority of the give-us-more-refugees crowd was comprised almost exclusively of the contractors who gain financially from each refugee resettled (they are paid by the head).

Here are the pertinent facts about the upcoming opportunity to comment:

Federal Resister Notice 8690

Inviting Public Comment on the size and scope of the refugee admissions program.

Comments to be submitted by 5 p.m. May 29th by e-mail to spruellda@state.gov or fax to 202-453-9393

Don’t hesitate to contact Ms. Spruell if you have a question.

In the past, some of us attended the ‘hearing’ at the State Department.  I’ll check and see if that opportunity is available this year and when it is.

We will also plan to re-post some of the good testimony from the last couple of years in the coming days.  If you are eager to find out what critics said in previous years, note we have two categories in the left-hand side bar.  One is entitled Testimony for 5/1/2012 and the other Testimony for 5/15/2013.  Note that not all posts are the actual testimony but might just include my references to someone’s testimony.

Just now, we have created a new category for all posts referencing the 2014 State Dept. invitation to comment.

For those who say this is a hopeless exercise, that the testimony goes into a black hole, you can make your testimony goes farther by sending it to your Senators, Members of Congress, Governors, Mayors etc.  and ask them for a response to your concerns.  Even consider using it as a press opportunity for a local group.

 

Posted in Reforms needed, Refugee Resettlement Program, Testimony for 5/29/2014 State Dept. meeting | Tagged: , | 9 Comments »

Hawaii-bound teen stowaway wanted to get back to Somalia

Posted by Ann Corcoran on April 22, 2014

Update May 8:  Kid to be interviewed by police, Mom on the way? here.

Update May 5:  Teen released into care of California family service agency, here.

Update May 1: The latest episode of the Somali stowaway family soap opera, here.

Update April 29:  The story is turning into a soap opera!  CAIR involved too! Click hereVoice of America story contradicts CAIR, here.

Update April 26:  Mom found in Ethiopia, wants to come to US, here.

Update April 23:  Father: Allah protected son.  Still no word on why father never called authorities about his missing son, here.

Of course you’ve seen the news.  Authorities are stunned that a teenage boy who stowed himself away in the wheel well of a plane that crossed the Pacific Ocean to Maui actually survived the ordeal.

He does not want to go back to California; he wants to go home to Somalia

CNN is now reporting that the boy is from Somalia and wanted to get home to his biological mother in Africa.  It reminds us (rather dramatically) that not all refugees are happy to be in America.

From CNN:

(CNN) — A 15-year-old boy who survived a flight from California to Hawaii by hitching a ride in the plane’s wheel well said he was trying to get to Somalia to see his mother, a law enforcement official told CNN on Tuesday.

The teen, who has not yet been identified, spent more than six hours on the ground before the Maui-bound jet took off, another government official says.

The boy jumped an airport fence in San Jose, California, shortly after 1 a.m. on Sunday, hours before Hawaiian Airlines Flight 45 took off at 7:55 a.m., the official said.

The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, didn’t know when the teen climbed into the wheel well, but said the plane already was at the airport at 1 a.m.

Investigators say they don’t think the teen knew where the plane was heading and just went to the nearest aircraft.

There are a bunch of reports on the case, thanks to ‘pungentpeppers’ for sending them.

The general consensus of the stories is that the teen was unhappy living under crowded conditions in a house with his biological father, a stepmother and a huge batch of siblings.  He had also recently been in some trouble in school.   The reports vary on how long he has been in the US.

Here are a few:  UK Daily MailNBC Bay Area, and NBC News.   ***Update***  More stories:  Sky News, ABC San Francisco, and more from CNN.

Why not cut the kid a break and have the humanitarians at the State Department find his biological mother and send him home to Somalia?

US State Department should provide airfare to unhappy refugees!

Which reminds me of a reform that is critically needed—any refugee who comes to America, is unhappy and wishes to return to his or her home country or to a camp should be given airfare to go home.  We don’t hear of the cases often (they are hushed up!), but some unhappy refugees do scrape together the needed airfare and do return to Africa or the Middle East.  We have heard from Iraqis from time to time looking to go back to Iraq.

Maybe take the airfare funds from the resettlement contractor’s cash.

Posted in Africa, Changing the way we live, Muslim refugees, Reforms needed, Refugee Resettlement Program, Taxpayer goodies, Who is going where | Tagged: | 12 Comments »

Professor: War on poverty should include refugees

Posted by Ann Corcoran on January 25, 2014

But, but, but….we are told that refugees are self-sufficient very quickly—that they are not costing federal, state and local taxpayers much! In fact, we are told repeatedly that they are actually adding to the local economy!

Although it’s an overt pitch for more taxpayer dollars for refugee resettlement, there are a couple of points worth making about this opinion piece by Dr. Jill Koyama at The Huffington Post.

Dr. Jill Koyama: “…refugees funneled into pipelines of poverty.”

First, for long time readers, you know that the Resettlement contractors are always bragging about how quickly refugees become self-sufficient and get off welfare.  You know it can’t be true or why would this author and others suggest refugee programs need more money from the US taxpayer.  The contractors can’t have it both ways!  Either refugees are in poverty or they are quickly self-sufficient.  Which is it?

If they need more money from the taxpayer to survive, then we are led to two obvious questions:  WHY ARE WE IMPORTING POVERTY?  And, if we can’t afford them, why not lower the numbers being admitted to the US each year?

Dr. Koyama, in her op-ed, is pushing for more English language training and says of the system now:  “…refugees are funneled into pipelines of poverty, with little hope of upward mobility.”

Here she makes a point we often make on these pages—a driving force behind refugee resettlement, for all its talk of helping the world’s downtrodden, is driven to a large degree by employers wanting cheap reliable laborers.  Once the first refugees move upward, employers need to import more at the lower rungs.

My two-year anthropological study, ending last March, of the educational and employment networks of 100 refugees in upstate New York confirms that a lack of English proficiency pigeon-holes refugees into low-wage service and shift work with limited possibilities of promotion. In fact, one fourth of the 12 employers interviewed preferred to hire refugees with “just enough” English skills who were, as one employer stated, “less likely to leave when they landed better paying jobs with more English.” According to the director of a refugee resettlement agency in the area, the focus on getting a job quickly leads many refugees to accept positions below their abilities, especially because refusing any job can jeopardize the receipt of benefits used to support their families, especially their children. This has multi-generational effects on educational outcomes and livelihoods for refugee children and children born in the U.S. to refugees.

A reminder to readers, the Refugee Act of 1980 also foresaw a public-private partnership where the contractors were supposed to use some of their own resources and not use the federal taxpayer as a piggy bank.  I am fully convinced that contractors could, if they worked at it, find enough people willing to do charitable work to teach refugees English without further dipping into the US Treasury.

Posted in Changing the way we live, Legal immigration and jobs, Reforms needed, Refugee Resettlement Program, Taxpayer goodies | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

 
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