Actually the mayor did what every sensible mayor should be doing—she insisted on a delay so that the International Rescue Committee could “present a formal refugee integration plan” to local elected officials and others (presumably with public input!).
Athens, Georgia dodges a bullet for now as Democratic Mayor Nancy Denson insists on a formal plan for refugee integration before resettlement begins (what a novel idea!).
Make them have a long range plan for your town!
Such a plan would include research on where the refugees will work, what social services they will need, how many children can the school system accommodate, how much affordable housing is available, is the health department ready to take care of some communicable diseases, how long will the resettlement contractor be involved with refugees it resettles, how many, for how many years—etc. Make sure there is public input.
And, be sure to make them spell out exactly which refugees from which countries are coming to your city!
And, finally insist on an escape clause so that, if the State Department contractor brings too many, the city can say STOP!
(Remember there are several US cities trying to get them to stop to no avail—Manchester, NH, Springfield, MA and Amarillo, TX come immediately to mind.)
Our previous coverage of the Athens, GA refugee controversy can by found by clicking here, here, and here.
Here is the full story yesterday from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution which sought comment from the US State Department and got none (no surprise there). Emphasis is mine.
The U.S. State Department has shelved a plan to resettle 150 refugees in Athens following objections from Mayor Nancy Denson and Gov. Nathan Deal’s administration.
The International Rescue Committee said it got an email last week from the federal agency saying it would consider the proposal “after additional planning and community consultation.”
J.D. McCrary, the IRC’s executive director in Atlanta, said in an email that he was “not entirely sure what is meant by additional planning and community consultation as this was extensively undertaken during the past year.”
“There is always hope in the future and the good news is that senior level officials from the State Department are planning a visit to Athens next month to view the area in person for future consideration,” he wrote. [Boy, would I love to be a fly on the wall!---ed]
“During the visit we will be clarifying with them what additional planning and consultations they are requiring, showing them firsthand why Athens has already become a preferred destination for refugees seeking a new life, and discussing a concrete plan to resubmit a proposal to establish an official resettlement site.”
The IRC has proposed resettling refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Myanmar and Syria in the region in the coming months.
In a letter sent to the U.S. State Department in August, Georgia Human Services Commissioner Keith Horton said he did not want the refugee resettlement plan to “go forward at this time.”
“The degree of cooperation, communication and consultation is not where I would like for it to be,” Horton wrote. “It is my hope that the community of Athens/Clarke County and the IRC will continue to work together to resolve the issues and concerns that have been raised.”
Horton’s letter followed one Denson sent Deal’s administration two days before. In her letter, the Democratic mayor complained the IRC did not reach out to enough people in her community early enough about its plans. She also raised concerns that the refugees could strain public resources in Athens-Clarke County, which is home to about 120,000 residents. Denson said she wanted the IRC to delay its efforts and to “present a formal refugee integration plan” to local elected officials and others.
LOL! Seeing a new “pocket of resistance,” I suspect we will see “Welcoming America” moving in to re-educate the mayor and others if they haven’t arrived there already!