Refugee Resettlement Watch

Archive for the ‘Refugee Resettlement Program in Maryland’ Category

George Soros wants Baltimore to be more “welcoming” towards refugees

Posted by Ann Corcoran on June 5, 2012

I don’t have time to post at RRW today, but I did write about refugees at my other blog—Potomac Tea Party Report.  The post is about Soros’ Open Society Foundation chastising Marylanders about not being “welcoming” toward refugees.  The post is a basic primer for Tea Party readers who don’t follow the daily ins and outs of the refugee industry, but you might find it informative.

Tomorrow an update on the Somali who murdered 4 in North Dakota and a “diversity is strength” pow-wow about Muslim inclusion hosted by the State Department.   And, there is some news on Rohingya too.

Posted in Refugee Resettlement Program, Refugee Resettlement Program in Maryland, Resettlement cities, The Opposition | Comments Off

Bhutanese refugees shot in Baltimore, one dead

Posted by Ann Corcoran on August 25, 2011

It was only two days ago we told you that a young Bhutanese (Nepalese) woman is missing in Prince George’s County,* MD when news comes that two refugees were shot in Baltimore and one died (so far).  The article is not accurate on how many Bhutanese have been resettled in the US to date (the number resettled so far in the US is closer to 42,000, here.  Last week the UN celebrated the 50,000th Bhutanese to leave camps for the West).

From the Baltimore Sun:

Two Bhutanese refugees were shot, one of them fatally, in an apparent robbery in Northeast Baltimore, one of two double-shootings investigated by Baltimore police Tuesday night.

Big Bahadur Gurung, 20, had immigrated here from Nepal two months ago, after being given sanctuary following years of persecution in his home country, said Holly Leon-Lierman, the outreach manager for the International Rescue Committee, which helps refugees assimilate.  [He was likely not persecuted in Bhutan or in Nepal because someone as young as Gurung most likely grew up in the camps in Nepal since they have been there for two decades.---ed]

“He came here seeking freedom and safety,” Leon-Lierman said. “These are people who were persecuted for a long time, and it really makes this attack all the more tragic.”

The incident is the latest in a series of crimes that have sparked concern for members of Baltimore’s Nepalese and Bhutanese community, which officials say is centered in Northeast Baltimore’s Frankford neighborhood and has been growing in recent years.

Officers were called to the Parkside Gardens apartments in the 5200 block of Bowleys Lane at 10:12 p.m. for a report of a double shooting, and found two men suffering from gunshot injuries. A 17-year-old male, also an immigrant who arrived here last year, was shot multiple times in the torso and taken to an area hospital in critical condition.

Gurung, of the 4900 block of Gunther Ave., was shot in the chest and was pronounced dead.

Bhutan is a tiny kingdom in South Asia located at the eastern end of the Himalayas. For years, thousands of Bhutanese of Nepali descent have been fleeing the country, alleging ethnic and political repression, and were stranded in Nepalese refugee camps.

In 2007, the United States announced it would offer sanctuary to up to 60,000 refugees, with Ellen Sauerbrey, then the director of the State Department’s refugee division and a former Republican state legislator from Maryland, playing a key role. More than 30,000 refugees have settled in the United States since then, one of the largest refugee groups in recent years, according to news reports. More than 700 have settled in Baltimore.

The Bhutanese are mostly Hindu and a twenty year old like the young man murdered in Baltimore possibly lived his entire life in the security of a United Nations Refugee Camp in Nepal sheltered from the crime that plagues cities like Baltimore.   I’m sure they make an easy target for inner-city thugs.

But like other immigrant populations, they have encountered challenges in their new home. The IRC has been working with police and city officials over concerns about robberies and violence, with advocates and community leaders organizing meetings.

Frances Tinsley, the IRC’s director since April, said the crimes are isolated and there is no evidence that Bhutanese refugees have been targeted, and she said the group’s work is largely proactive.

“Baltimore has been an accepting community, but it is also an urban city and we have to do the best we can to make sure these newcomers feel safe,” Tinsley said.

For new readers, it’s the same old story—resettlement agencies imagine a neighborhood is “welcoming” and place naive newcomers into a multicultural mix that is anything but welcoming (or accepting!).   But, bottom line, it’s all about the bucks—apartments are cheaper—so that’s where these agencies, even rich ones like the IRC, place refugees!

I just typed ‘Bhutanese murdered’ into the search function here at RRW and up came this archive of all the problems the Bhutanese are experiencing—others murdered, one killed by an abortion doctor, inner city beatings, suicides, and the list goes on.

* No word that I’ve seen so far on her whereabouts.

Addendum:  Maryland has resettled a total of 32,986 refugees through 2008 (check out the appendix of the 2008 Annual Report to Congress, here).

Posted in Crimes, diversity's dark side, Other refugees, Refugee Resettlement Program, Refugee Resettlement Program in Maryland, Resettlement cities | 3 Comments »

Head Start and some funny money business makes the news….

Posted by Ann Corcoran on May 28, 2010

….but not too much news.   That theme is the gist of this piece at Big Government by Robert Bluey a couple of days ago.   An undercover investigation has unearthed proof of major scams on-going with the program and Bluey argues that this should be as big news as the ACORN scandal has been.

Arguably, the Head Start scandal deserved front-page headlines on newspapers across America last week. Outrage over ACORN centered on the group’s taxpayer funding. The total amount of federal funds that flowed to ACORN was about $53 million dating to 1994.

Head Start, a Great Society program created in 1965 for low-income children, received $9 billion — yes, billion — in appropriations and stimulus funding last year alone. Over the lifetime of the program, it has cost taxpayers more than $150 billion.

There are more than 3,300 Head Start programs operating in America, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. A government-funded impact study criticized the effectiveness of the program earlier this year. Given the cost of the program and the group of people it primarily serves, Head Start deserves some much-needed scrutiny.

Read the whole Big Government article.

Until a few years ago, I never gave Head Start a second thought and in the back of my mind I assumed it was run from government offices at the state level, but apparently not so.   Again, at least in the case I’m familiar with, it is one of those programs that is run with taxpayer money passed along to unaccountable non-profit groups (I loathe this concept of public-private partnerships!).

What got me thinking about this a few years ago is that the Virginia Council of Churches quietly began resettling refugees in the county where I live (that, by the way, also was the genesis of this blog) and in the course of researching who they were, imagine my surprise, when I learned they were almost completely funded with tax dollars.    The biggest portion of their income comes from Head Start.   See this pie chart from their 2007 annual report.  (Incidentally, this is 2010, what is taking them so long to put up more recent annual reports?).

In 2007, almost 58% of their funding came from Head Start.  And, do you see that 17.5% from Church World Service, that is really your tax dollars passed through from the federal government to Church World Service to Virginia Council of Churches for refugees.    The Episcopal Migration Ministries money is also likely passed through from the Feds.  Add up the other pieces of the pie and it looks to me that only 2% of their income comes from other sources and the church. Readers should know that there is virtually no federal financial auditing of this federal money and since Virginia Council of Churches claims to be a church, they don’t file a Form 990 with the IRS that I have ever  been able to find.

And, this is interesting, they do their lobbying through something called the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy.

On matters related to public policy in Virginia, the Council of Churches works in special cooperation with The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy. Each year, the Council considers the legislative agenda that is developed by the center and upon action of the Coordination Cabinet of the Virginia Council of Churches, endorses and supports the agenda.

I sure hope none of your money (for refugees or Head Start) is passed through to promote “social justice” political causes!

For your serious consideration—-Head Start is grabbing young minds early.  They’ve gotta separate kids from parents, that is the clear agenda of the Far Left!

Posted in Changing the way we live, Refugee Resettlement Program, Refugee Resettlement Program in Maryland | Comments Off

Iraqis are largest group of refugees coming to Maryland right now

Posted by Ann Corcoran on May 5, 2010

This is your standard refugee news story, but I’m posting it so I have some statistics for our home state of Maryland.  And, because we rarely hear any refugee news from Maryland!

From Southern Maryland OnLine:

Although Iraqis make up only 2.5 percent of refugees and asylum-seekers in Maryland, in the past decade, Iraqi refugee resettlement in Maryland has gone from almost non-existent to leading other countries in the number of refugees entering the state.

From 2000 to 2007, there was an average of 19 new Iraqi refugees a year resettling in Maryland — .15 percent of all new arrivals in that time period.

In 2007, 1.9 percent of new Maryland refugees and asylees were Iraqi. By 2009, Iraqis made up one in six new refugees, or 16.8 percent, the largest group of new refugees from 45 countries, according to a database maintained by the Maryland Office of Refugees and Asylees.

[....]

From 1990 to 2006, more than 33,000 Iraqis were resettled across the nation, according to the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement. To date, about 1,000 Iraqis have resettled in Maryland.

Maryland’s  number of Iraqis is still a drop in the bucket compared to the top 6 states that resettle Iraqis.  California gets almost 20% with Michigan second with approximately 13-15%.  We have previously written about problems of the system being overwhelmed by Iraqis in both California and Michigan.  The others in the top 6 states resettling Iraqis are Texas, Illinois, Arizona and Virginia.

Maryland’s funding from the feds has more than tripled in recent years according to the Maryland Office of Refugees and Asylees.

In fiscal 2007, Maryland received about $2.5 million in cash and medical assistance funds from the Office of Refugee Resettlement. In fiscal 2008, the funds doubled to $5.3 million.

Most of MORA’s fiscal 2011 $8.1 million budget will be spent on refugee services and cash assistance.

Incidentally we haven’t heard of any Iraqis wanting to go back to the Middle East from Maryland as we did in Virginia last year, here.

Posted in Iraqi refugees, Refugee Resettlement Program, Refugee Resettlement Program in Maryland, Resettlement cities | Comments Off

Second anniversary of Hagerstown public meeting on refugees

Posted by Ann Corcoran on September 19, 2009

Two years ago today a public meeting on refugees was held in our county seat, Hagerstown, MD.  We actually have a whole category for posts about it entitled September forum here (you may also need to use our search function for ‘Hagerstown’ to get the full story).    It was the culmination, as it turned out, of about a year of political turmoil about refugees brought to Hagerstown.   I’ve been thinking about that meeting recently as I prepare to give a talk about it at an upcoming meeting in Washington.

I’m not going to rehash the story except to say that the Virginia Council of Churches (VCC)  had quietly begun resettling refugees in our rural county, and our local political leaders had no clue about what was going on.  Some of us were initially open-minded, but wanted to understand how the program worked.  How was it that a non-profit group (from another state!) could just decide to add more poverty to the poverty we already had?  Who was going to take care of the refugees?  Where would they work?  Would the cost of adding to the schools fall on the county (unfunded mandates issue)?  Those were the sorts of questions we wanted to have answered.  So we supported the idea of holding a public meeting so that officials from Washington, the state of Maryland and the non-profit groups could explain it all.

The public meeting happened on September 19th, 2007.  The US State Department sent two women who run the program in DC, the Maryland office that handles refugee issues participated as did Church World Service (one of the top ten government contractors) as well as its subcontractor Virginia Council of Churches—a group almost entirely funded with tax dollars.  A couple hundred residents of Washington County attended.

You can read all about what happened in the posts in the September forum category, but the gist of what happened is that many of us felt we did not hear straight answers and the worst part was that the citizens were treated to a condescending tone from several speakers who felt the need to waste time and remind us that we were all immigrants once.   The sort of questions I wanted answered are listed in this post.  These questions were ones I wanted our local paper, the Herald Mail, to answer for the public.  They didn’t, so we have been writing this blog ever since.

The refugee resettlement program of the US State Department needs to be reformed.  We will just keep hammering away until it is.  I’m not saying there is corruption in the program as deep and profound as the one now being exposed with ACORN, but I believe very strongly that when non-profit groups continue to reach into the pockets of taxpayers there is a very real possibility that waste, fraud and abuse (abuse possibly even of the refugees themselves) is going to happen. 

I encourage all of you in communities receiving refugees or about to receive refugees to do research, ask questions and demand a public meeting so that officials can inform everyone of what is happening to your community.  If it’s a good program it will stand up to public scrutiny!

So, what happened in Hagerstown after that public meeting where many citizens went away even more annoyed?  Ten days later the announcement was made that the Virginia Council of Churches would be returning to Virginia and more refugees would not be brought to Hagerstown.  Their parting shot to our city was that we were “unwelcoming.”    But, there was a lot more to the story and it’s my contention that the State Department and Church World Service were unhappy with how VCC didn’t take very good care of the refugees they brought to Hagerstown in the first place and that they had royally screwed up the public relations aspect of the program.

Again, the moral of the story is, if refugee resettlement is good for your town or city those promoting it must tell the public ALL THE FACTS and then let the citizens decide, afterall that is how good government is supposed to work!

Posted in Reforms needed, Refugee Resettlement Program, Refugee Resettlement Program in Maryland | Comments Off

Johns Hopkins forum sought to explain refugee resettlement program

Posted by Ann Corcoran on December 14, 2008

This is old news, it happened in November, but as I said before I have piles of backed-up refugee stories to mention.

A forum and panel discussion was held at Johns Hopkins Univ. to explain the refugee program and how it’s going in Baltimore, MD.   There is lots of information about the history of refugees arriving in Baltimore, and there is the usual whinefest about not enough money to run the program properly.

The IRC (International Rescue Committee) has been resettling refugees in Baltimore since 1999. In fiscal year 2008 they resettled 480 refugees and 140 asylees, with the majority coming from Nepal, Myanmar and Iraq and various African nations.

The IRC sees Baltimore as a good city to resettle refugees to because the costs of living are lower than many other eastern cities. It is also fitted with accessible public transportation. Refugees also serve to further culturally enrich an already diverse city.

Martin Ford of the Maryland Office for New Americans said that resettlement agencies are under a great deal of pressure to provide comprehensive resettlement services with limited resources.

Limited resources!   Readers should know that the International Rescue Committee is an approximately $200 million a year operation.  In 2005 (No more recent financial documents would open) the organization received $88 million in taxpayer funding.  So when they say that they put up thousands for each refugee family, know that a large portion of that comes from you!

This (IRC responsibility)  includes paying for rent and utilities during their fist months here, as well as helping them secure employment. However, these grants total only $850 per refugee. Fikremariam (Worku Fikremariam, resettlement program manager for the International Rescue Committee in Baltimore) estimated that his agency spends $3,000 to $4,000 per refugee family in the first few months they are in the country.

Half of the $850 stays with the volag (IRC here) in addition to many other grants the IRC receives from various federal and state agencies.   Again, the $3000 to $4000 is not all THEIR money, but largely your money.

Iraqi refugees are not happy campers!

A substantial portion of this article was taken up with a discussion of the unhappy and often unemployed Iraqi refugees who have been coming to the US at an increased rate in recent months.  See our Iraqi refugee category for an abundance of unhappy Iraqi stories.

One Iraqi asylee*, who asked to remain anonymous because he has many relatives still living in Iraq, estimated that he had already spent one year and several thousand dollars studying for recertification as a physician here. He held a high position in the government after the American invasion and supervised 10 Ph.D. candidates in their dissertation research. He estimated that he would not be properly certified to find a job in his field here until 2010. Until then he has found a part-time job as a translator.

Many recently arrived Iraqis have not been so lucky. This asylee recounted that prior to leaving Iraq many refugees did not realize that they would not be able to apply the same skills and knowledge in their new location. He said that a resettlement agency tried to place another refugee who had been a doctor in Iraq in a low skill job.

“They asked him if he wanted to have a job like wiping the floor or washing dishes. This is impossible for our people, a lot of them prefer to go back home and be killed there than do those jobs here; it is like a stigma,” he said.

Where is the unrealisitic expectation coming from?   We have heard on several previous occasions that the agency processing refugees overseas has not been doing a good job of sitting prospective refugees down and explaining the cold hard facts about our economic situation.

The Iraqi asylee said that many recently arrived Iraqis feel frustrated by their lack of success in securing suitable jobs. He contended that this is a result of the pre-departure orientation, which is received by Iraqis coming to the U.S. under the special immigrant visa created by Congress this year.

The rosy picture of America needs to go away, says IRC spokesman.

Sometimes they have to go through that for reality to hit and the rosy picture of America to go away,” Fikremariam said.”[In such situations] depression sets in, they are in an existential vacuum. ‘Who am I, why I am I here?’

Good question!

* Asylees are given the same benefits as refugees, the difference is that they got to the US on their own steam and then sought asylum.  We bring refugees to the US and pay their airfare.  By the way, this is another way agencies like the IRC make money, they act as collection agents to recover the taxpayer funded airfare and then get to keep a cut for their work with only a portion going back to the federal treasury.

Posted in Iraqi refugees, Refugee Resettlement Program in Maryland | 7 Comments »

Puff piece on Virginia Council of Churches refugee program needs some balance

Posted by Ann Corcoran on August 2, 2008

Yesterday I told you what a great year we have had at Refugee Resettlement Watch—over 100,000 visitors to this site to learn more about the refugee program in the US.  You have the Virginia Council of Churches (VCC) to thank for that!    I have been meaning to write about them anyway because this time last year we were having a heated public discussion about VCC in Hagerstown, MD (all recorded in the category ‘September Forum’)  Now, I can use this article from Harrisonburg, VA to remind long-time readers and to tell new readers how we got here.

A year and a half ago Judy and I knew nothing about the Refugee Resettlement Program of the US State Department, until that is, we started reading about problems refugees were having in Hagerstown (MARYLAND), our county seat.   The case that got the public’s attention first involved a sick African woman who sent a child out on the street to find help which was followed by a series of miscommunications that could have been resolved quickly if someone knew how to reach the VIRGINIA Council of Churches.  To fire and rescue it was a mystery  how this African woman came to be in the worst neighborhood in the city.   As a result of the language barrier the incident blew up into a Hazmat situation because medical personel thought the woman (and others in the building) might have some dangerous communicable disease.

Shortly after the incident, Virginia Council of Churches asked our county government for $15,000 for their program—now people wanted to know how this Virginia “church” could be bringing what turned out to be hundreds of refugees to our county without any local say in the matter.

I asked a reporter at our local paper to find out and tell us all how the Refugee program worked.  The Hagerstown Herald mail refused and here we are telling you for over a year now how the refugee program works and attempting to balance the news coverage of the program—like this article from Harrisonburg.   We believe each community should know the whole story about how refugee resettlement will effect one’s community, we think the coverage has been way too one-sided (everything is just lovely everywhere).   I believe that if people are given all the facts, a government program can then be weighed fairly in a city or town.  It was very clear to us that facts were being withheld in order to sell the refugee program to Hagerstown. 

We also hope that by bringing the facts to you, this program will ultimately be reformed! 

To make what is now turning into a long story short, we ultimately had a public meeting (the September Forum) so that federal and state officials, Church World Service and VCC could tell the citizens the facts.  I had high hopes for a better understanding through this meeting.   The meeting was contentious with citizens once again feeling that they weren’t hearing the full story.  A week or so later it was announced that the Virginia Council of Churches was leaving town (State Department pulled the financial plug through its contractor, Church World Service), and we, and Hagerstown were labelled “unwelcoming”.  Really what happened is that the VCC had done such a lousy job caring for refugees and working with the general public that they were sent back to Virginia with their parting “unwelcoming” shot at Hagerstown.

Now to the Harrisonburg article:

Refugee Resettlement functions as an arm of the Virginia Council of Churches, a network of 37 churches spanning 22 denominations in Virginia. The Harrisonburg Refugee Resettlement office helps refugees get resettled in a geographical area from Winchester to Roanoke.

I guess this (above) means that their region has shrunk (no longer jumping across state lines), and note the implication is that the churches are doing the resettling.  As for Roanoke, no mention of the BIG problems there between the black American population and the Somalis that these government contractors have resettled in their midst.

According to its Web site, the Council formed the Refugee Resettlement Program in 1962 in response to a large number of Cuban exiles entering the United States. Nationally, the program admitted 70,000 refugees a year until 2001, Sokolyuk said, when the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 resulted in tighter security measures for refugees.

After 2001, the State Department reduced the number of refugees allowed in the country annually to 29,000, Sokolyuk said.

Lately, said Sokolyuk, the State Department has relaxed such restrictions.

Doesn’t Mr. Sokolyuk know that the ceiling for FY 08 is 80,000 refugees to be admitted to the US and the number could go higher if special legislation mandating more Iraqis is successful?

After receiving 50 refugees a year from 2002 to 2007, the Harrisonburg Refugee Resettlement already has processed applications for 123 people this year, said Sokolyuk.

The Virginia Council of Churches budgets $1.3 million a year for its three Refugee Resettlement offices to process refugees, said Sokolyuk. Each office receives its share of the budget based on the number of refugees it processed the previous year.

Since VCC is now getting 123 refugees their ‘time out’ inflicted by the State Department must be over.  No mention here that almost all of VCC’s budget is from the coffers of the US taxpayer through the primary government contractor Church World Service.  Last year a representative of VCC said 90% of their budget comes from government.  Of course, one can’t confirm that because they have filed as a “church” with the IRS and are not required to file a Form 990 that other non-profits are required to file.

Sokolyuk is quick to point out that the general public often confuses the terms “refugee” and “immigrant.” There is a huge difference between the two: Refugees leave their native lands with more urgency than do immigrants, who have more time to plan.

“With refugees, the body goes first, and the mind follows,” said Sokolyuk. “With immigrants, the mind goes first, and the body follows.”

What the heck does that mean?   You see—this is why we started this blog.   Instead of complete straightforward information you get this B.S. —-”the body goes first and the mind follows.”    The major difference between other legal immigrants and refugees is that refugees (and asylees) must show that they are persecuted or have a reasonable fear of persecution because of such things as religion, race, nationality, a particular social group or political opinion.  Other immigrants seek visas for various reasons and bascially wait in line.

The other huge difference is that refugees receive travel loans (loans from the federal government) to get here, they get help(?) from groups like VCC, they get apartment subsidies, medical exams, ESL lessons, food stamps, SSI, etc. etc.   And of course that is why there are so many people in the world trying to figure out how to be refugees.

On the travel loans, go to the article and see the comment by Chris Coen of Friends of Refugees and see how that works.  VCC gets a cut of any loan it can collect from refugees.  We were told by sources that refugees in Hagerstown could barely speak English and were getting dunning letters from VCC and didn’t understand what that was all about and were frightened by the letters.

This next part, about finding individual church sponsors, is absolutely not true:

First, refugees contact the United Nations, which refers applicants to the State Department. Such volunteer groups as Church World Service and Episcopal Immigration Ministries review applications and contact localities throughout the U.S., seeking churches or other organizations willing to sponsor refugees.

Batches of sometimes hundreds of refugees are sent to a “welcoming” city where a volag (supposedly voluntary agency, but paid by you) is supposed to resettle the refugees.  Here in Hagerstown they had maybe 3 churches and a mosque and resettled over 200.  The reason so much went wrong is that they didn’t have individual churches taking individual families and the few churches and the mosque ultimately threw up their hands because volunteer church members were completely overwhelmed by the numbers.    In other cities, Waterbury, CT comes to mind, the volags actually discouraged individual church volunteers and screwed up so badly the program was halted there too.

One of the reforms we advocate is that we should go back to the old system where individual churches would use their own private charity to sponsor a family and acclimate them to America—the present system of paying groups to resettle masses of people is not working!  This blog is filled with stories of waste and abuse by volags.

Sorry this post got way long, congratulations to readers who got this far!

Posted in Refugee Resettlement Program, Refugee Resettlement Program in Maryland, Resettlement cities, September Forum | 3 Comments »

Now to Maryland…our home state

Posted by Ann Corcoran on May 25, 2008

For the last few days I’ve written about immigration hot spots around the world (Italy, Switzerland, South Africa, and shortly I’ll tell you about Scotland), but now to Maryland, my Maryland.  

This is part of a story from a man who demonstrated recently at one of several Motor Vehicle Administration offices in the state.  Here is part of what he says:

I’m at the rally because Maryland is one of only four states that give drivers licenses to foreign nationals who are illegally in the United States. An illegal alien can get a Maryland driver’s license simply by having a foreign driver’s license – that’s all! Or, an illegal alien with merely a foreign birth certificate, an auto registration card, and an apartment rental contract qualifies for a Maryland driver’s license. There’s no requirement to prove legal presence in the U.S.; and needless to say, I’ts relatively easy to forge an apartment lease.

Maryland MVA is giving drivers licenses to foreign nationals as fast as it can – 1,700 a week according to officials (if we can believe them they have the authority to give as many as 5,000 a week)! Maryland even pays Spanish translators to help illegal aliens apply for driver’s licenses and offers a Spanish version of the driver’s test to license applicants all at taxpayer’s expense!

Now 5,000 a week totals 1.3 million in 5 years about of the State’s population! Why on Earth does Maryland’s government want to give drivers licenses to that many foreign nationals?

I bet  you are thinking he is some rightwing xenophobic racist redneck.  He isn’t!  Here is the opening paragraph of his narrative: 

This morning, I participated in a citizen’s rally at the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) facility near my home in Maryland. A group called Help Save Maryland had arranged these rallies at three different MVA sites for the same day – May 17th. Now you have to understand, I am 57, a professional manager, and haven’t participated in a demonstration since college. I’m politically progressive and adopted my son from Guatemala.

I’m not saying we are going to end up in flames like France, or Italy or South Africa, but I am saying that the heat is turning up.  Just this last week when Senator Diane Feinstein successfully attached an amendment to give amnesty to farm workers on an Iraq funding bill those of us concerned about uncontrolled immigration got in gear and defeated it (again!).  I can’t tell you how furious people are getting over these maneuvers by many in government to defy the will of the majority of Americans.

When 50 year-old self-described progressives like this fellow, Bob Fireovid, are willing to stand outside a Motor Vehicle office holding a handmade sign things are getting bad.

So what does this have to do with refugees?   You are saying refugees are legal!  The demonstration was all about illegal immigrants.  Yes, and so far that has kept the spotlight off refugees for the most part.   Most of those active in pushing for border control readily say, “I’m not against legal immigration.”  That is going to change as time goes on and there is growing resentment about out of control immigration shoved down our throats by governments.

To prove my point check out the agenda for a meeting coming up in Maryland in which a government supported agency teaches participants how to sell refugees and immigrants on communities or how to find an asylum lawyer or how to get a drivers license. 

Read about this June workshop of the Maryland Coalition for Refugees and Immigrants (MCRI) and see what your tax dollars are doing for you.

 

Posted in Other Immigration, Refugee Resettlement Program, Refugee Resettlement Program in Maryland | 1 Comment »

Frederick, MD meet Ft. Wayne, IN

Posted by Ann Corcoran on April 20, 2008

For our local readers from Frederick, MD where Burmese refugees have begun to arrive, please read about the issues facing Ft. Wayne, IN which has the largest Burmese population in the country.

More than 100 people, many already serving new residents from other countries, packed a room at the City-County Building to discuss how to help 800 or more Burmese refugees who will resettle this year in Fort Wayne through Catholic Charities, which operates the region’s U.S. State Department-sanctioned resettlement program.

Last year 613 Burmese refugees resettled here, spurring a call to action to identify which agency is doing what, where gaps exist in services, and where and how to seek funding.

Much of the discussion at this public meeting revolved around how to find jobs, teach English and  provide services such as translation services to the hundreds more refugees expected this year.    You should know that the cost for translating anything important for refugees falls on the agency responsible.  Local Health Departments, Fire Departments, even the local court are all required by Federal law to provide translators.    A refugee gets a traffic violation that sends him or her to court and the county pays for an interpreter.

Here is a post I did way back in July 2007 about the cost to Montgomery Co. of translators to the court system there.  A Liberian refugee charged with raping a little girl was let off because an appropriate interpreter was not found within a reasonable time period.

Much to my surprise this new article from Ft. Wayne does not discuss the cost to the Allen County Health Department, an issue plaguing the Ft. Wayne area for the last year.  See our many previous posts on Ft. Wayne here.

If the citizens of Frederick wish to welcome refugees and asylees, then knowing in advance what to expect and what responsibilities will be placed on the community is the only sensible approach.

NOTE:  I am so bad, I don’t even have Maryland in our “your state” page at the top of RRW.  I’ll work on that today.

Posted in Asylum seekers, Changing the way we live, Refugee Resettlement Program, Refugee Resettlement Program in Maryland, Resettlement cities | 1 Comment »

Confusing the folks in Frederick, MD, asylee or refugee?

Posted by Ann Corcoran on April 12, 2008

When our refugee issue boiled up in Hagerstown, MD we learned that the largest city close to us, Frederick, MD, was also receiving refugees.    That was way back last spring.    So, I was surprised that a well-connected Frederick woman called a month or so ago to ask about the Burmese she had heard, through the grapevine, were in Frederick with more on the way.

Sure enough, now literally years after the first refugees were resettled the Frederick News Post has a couple of articles about the Burmese who started arriving there in 2002.  Here is some information from the first article.

 According to statistics from the U.S. State Department Worldwide Refugee Admission Processing System, from October 2002 to September 2007, 43 refugees from Burma moved to Frederick.

Then here is where it gets confusing.  First, our old friend Martin Ford explains that refugees go through a rigorous vetting process.

Burmese admitted to the U.S. have escaped a repressive military junta in their country and have waited in refugee camps, sometimes for months, sometimes for years, said Martin Ford, associate director of the Maryland Office for New Americans.

The office, part of the Maryland Department of Human Resources, is tasked with providing assistance in the form of money, employment services and English language training to refugees for an eight-month period after they arrive.

The refugees go through a rigorous vetting process, and are citizens before they arrive [not], he said. Refugees who need help are then sponsored by one of 10 voluntary agencies throughout the country.

Then the reporter switches gears and talks about how many of the Burmese in Frederick are actually asylees.  Asylees are a whole differant type of immigrant.  These are people who were not “vetted” in camps in Thailand, they are people who came into the country illegally and then said they were Burmese and claimed asylum from persecution in Burma.   We have really no way of knowing if what they say is true.  We don’t send investigators to Asia to find out who they are.

Asnake Yeheyis, a statistician with MONA, said that there are also Burmese in Frederick with asylum status. Asylees share the same legal definition as refugees, but obtain their status after arriving in the country.

MONA tracks only those asylees who seek benefits, which accounts for roughly less than half of the asylee population, Yeheyis said. During the same five year span, from 2002 to 2007, MONA recorded serving 22 asylees from Burma in Frederick.

According to report compiled by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics, from 2004 to 2006, the U.S. government accepted 1,612 new Burmese refugees. [In 2007, the US accepted over 15,000 with another 15,000 expected this year].   In 2006, Maryland received 524 asylees.

Also, note that the MONA representative says they only keep track of those looking for services.  I guess if your motives for being here are not necessarily pure, you might not want to sign up for government programs and English lessons.

Frankly, I was shocked that half of the so-called Burmese refugees going to Frederick were actually asylees.  And, the overall number of asylees coming to Maryland struck me as high.

This is where the line gets blurred between legal and illegal immigration.  Someone sneaks into the US from a trouble spot in the world, makes an asylum claim and bam—-welfare, food stamps, English lessons, and an employment case worker.  I guess the Mexican illegals wish they could make the persecution claim too.

Folks in Frederick need to check out a couple of posts we have done in the last few weeks.   The first is about an asylee in Philadelphia.  I think you will be shocked to see how he got into the US.  And, the other is about the tragic rape and murder of a 7-year-old Burmese Karen (Christian) refugee by a 21-year-old Burmese refugee in Utah.   I’m wondering now if he was an asylee? 

You might also want to check out the huge costs being run up by the Health Department of Ft. Wayne, IN which has the largest community of Burmese in the country.   Rumor has it too that they are experiencing friction between the Burmese Karen and the Burmese Muslims that are somehow getting into the US.

As we said in Hagerstown, the bottomline for any city is that the citizens who live there need to be given all the facts in advance of the city becoming a resettlement city.  Decide how many refugees you can afford.  Make absolutely sure that each refugee family unit has a sponsor, like a church or other group.  What good is it if the sponsor is some immigrant who has been here for a few months— that is the blind leading the blind!

My advice to Frederick, get all the facts.

 P.S.  To regular readers of RRW,  Walkersville, MD where the Ahmadiyya Muslims were seeking to build a convention center is also in Frederick County.   

Note on April 13th:  For those of you searching for more information on what happened in Hagerstown last fall, we have an entire category to your left called “September Forum,” or feel free to e-mail me through our contact address at right.

Posted in Asylum seekers, Changing the way we live, Refugee Resettlement Program, Refugee Resettlement Program in Maryland, Resettlement cities | 1 Comment »

 
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