Refugee Resettlement Watch

Archive for the ‘Your State’ Category

Catholic Charities brings refugees to South Jersey; find out who is coming to your state/city

Posted by Ann Corcoran on April 27, 2014

I was born and raised in South Jersey so this news from Catholic Charities interested me.  But, it also serves as an opportunity for me to discuss something that I’ve found troubling of late.

For several years (RRW began in 2007) it was easy enough to find statistics on how many refugees and from what country were being placed in what towns and cities during a given time period.  Those data bases are impossible to find now.   Maybe not ‘impossible’ if one has enormous time to search, but I do believe the federal government is making it more challenging for citizens to find information on the numbers and nationalities of refugees being resettled in specific locations.

Justice for the taxpayers too?

So, it was interesting to me to see what Catholic Charities is saying about the demographic/social/economic changes they are bringing to South Jersey.

New readers!

We have so many new readers just starting out on their quest to figure out how refugee resettlement (aka placement) works.  And, although we have been over this many times through the years, every day new people start their own investigations and of course never saw the story we might have posted in say 2008.    So, first check our fact sheet by clicking here.

Then, here is a list (at ORR) of the resettlement officials in every state (it should mostly be up-to-date).  The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) is located in the US Dept. of Health and Human Services and after the initial resettlement paid for by the US State Department, it is ORR that doles out the additional cash to the contractors, who in turn funnel the money (your money) to subcontractors.

The first step (after reading our fact sheet) in your quest to figure out how the program works is to contact your state coordinators (on this list).   Be pleasant and polite and ask for the data for your state—who is coming, who has come, how many, from where and most importantly what towns and cities have been chosen?  And, don’t forget to find out which contractors they are using (then research the contractor and its finances).

We can’t emphasize enough that you must get your facts together.

Now for anyone, other than me, interested in South Jersey, here is Catholic Charities:

From January 2009 through September 2013, 760 Refugee Newcomers were resettled by Catholic Charities, Diocese of Camden’s Refugee Resettlement Program. At the time of their resettlement, the Refugee Newcomers joined South Jersey communities from twelve Countries of Origin: Afghanistan, Bhutan, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Liberia, Myanmar (Burma), Pakistan, Sudan, Vietnam.

In the last program year (October 2012 to September 2013), Refugee Newcomers from eight different countries were resettled in South Jersey. Refugees were placed in market-rate apartments and houses rented from private landlords in a variety of towns, based on the availability of safe, affordable housing and proximity to shopping, employment and public transportation. The towns are: Atlantic City, Audubon, Barnegat, Collingswood, Haddon Heights, Haddon Township, Moorestown, Oaklyn, Palmyra, Pleasantville, Sicklerville, Somerdale, Trenton, Turnersville, Wildwood Crest, Willingboro, Woodlynne.

Of the 110 refugees who arrived in the last year, 32 children were enrolled in nine local public school systems:

In April 2013, Catholic Charities was awarded the Refugee School Impact Grant to assist and increase the support to refugee students and families in being academically successful. [Note that the grant for school impact went to Catholic Charities not the school systems themselves.---ed] Catholic Charities’ Refugee School Based Family Support Specialist focused on the Somerdale and Oaklyn school districts, which had twenty-eight and twenty-two refugee students enrolled, respectively. This program worked in these schools one day per week and provided enrollment and support services to other students and schools as needed and continued into the 2013-2014 school year.

Catholic Charities continues to work in collaboration with social service and medical providers, school systems, landlords, employers, churches and volunteers to assist refugees in becoming self-sufficient. These partnerships have resulted in over 75% rate of employment for employable adults within the first three months of arrival in 2012 and 2013.*** Through employment and on-going programs, Refugee Newcomers have become stable, productive contributors to South Jersey.

*** Watch out for the employment data trick described in a post at Friends of Refugees in January.  Blogger Chris Coen is a critic of resettlement contractors (as are we), but he comes at it from another angle.

Here is what Coen said in a critical post about a Tennessee resettlement contractor (Hat tip: Joanne):

A former case manager also sent us information about the agency and pointed out that the refugee employment figures are dishonest as most of the refuges have only temporary employment that does not help them to pay rent and be self-sufficient. The nature of the temp jobs also means that the refugees will be unemployed just a short time after the agency reports them employed to the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) at 90 days and 180 days. (This, however, is a problem throughout the refugee program, and it doesn’t seem that the the ORR has much of an interest in requiring that resettlement agencies report if refugees are working at temporary or non-temporary jobs.)

This post is archived in our ‘where to find information’ category, here.

Posted in Changing the way we live, Community destabilization, Refugee Resettlement Program, Refugee statistics, Taxpayer goodies, Where to find information, Who is going where, Your State | Tagged: , | 11 Comments »

Foreign-born represent most of US TB cases

Posted by Ann Corcoran on March 27, 2014

The other day we reported that refugees were being screened more seriously abroad and treated before setting foot on US soil (or that is what we are told anyway).

States with the highest rates of TB in the US. A few years old but still useful. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6111a2.htm

Here is yet another article on tuberculosis—Hispanics and Asians have the highest rates of TB in America.

The article goes on to say how much this is going to cost us (the taxpayers!) going forward.

From voxxi.com:

Though the rate of tuberculosis (TB) in the United States is dropping, among certain racial and ethnic groups that is not the case. According to recent data, immigrants and those who travel to other countries frequently have the highest TB occurrence.

This means Hispanics, Asians, African Americans, and non-Hispanic whites born outside of the United States carry the largest TB burden in the country.

The issues stems from high rates of tuberculosis around the globe, with the highest incidence reports coming from Eastern Europe and Central Asia. According to the World Health Organization, many of these cases–approximately 450,000–are the drug-resistant form of TB that has developed from improper medication usage and medical protocols.

Not only do we have ‘asylum seekers’ from Mexico, but the largest group of OTMs are Chinese and Indians. Are they being tested the minute they come across the border?  I sure hope we are protecting our border guards!

In the United States, foreign-born individuals had a 13 times greater TB incidence than US-born persons and accounted for 64.6 percent of TB cases in 2013. Of these, more than half originated from one of five countries: Mexico (20 percent), The Philippines (12.6 percent), India (8 percent), Vietnam (7.4 percent), and China (6.1 percent).

Almost all of the drug-resistant TB in the US is among the foreign born!

The rate of tuberculosis among immigrant populations varies slightly from the country of origin, however. Among Asians in the U.S. who are foreign-born, there is a 95 percent rate of TB infection, compared to 75 percent of Hispanics, 40 percent of African Americans, and 23 percent of non-Hispanic whites born outside the United States. Foreign-born persons also accounted for 88.4 percent of the resistant TB cases reported in 2012.

Then this struck me as very funny—minority populations will have to be concerned with the cost of treatment going forward!  What the heck!  It is the US taxpayer that will have to bear the cost of treatment!

The latest data, presented through several Centers for Disease Control (CDC) studies, suggests there is a major dilemma minority populations in the U.S. will soon have to face; cost of treatment.

[....]

Marks suggests TB treatment on average can cost around $17,000; however, drug-resistant TB is another matter, costing approximately $134,000 (rising to $430,000 for extensively resistant TB ). Adding productivity losses to treatment costs brought the estimated per case cost for treating drug-resistant TB to $554,000 per case.

See our ‘health issues’ category with 206 previous posts on health issues involving refugees and immigrants.

Posted in Changing the way we live, diversity's dark side, health issues, Refugee Resettlement Program, Taxpayer goodies, Your State | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Is your state attracting “secondary migrants?” Minnesota tops the list

Posted by Ann Corcoran on March 21, 2014

Secondary migrants are refugees who were settled first by the US State Department and a contractor in one state, but choose to move usually because they want to be with their own kind of people, or they find employment and/or social services more desirable elsewhere.

When we first began writing this blog in 2007, we were told it was impossible to track the secondary migrants because it’s America and no one has to report where they move to.  Indeed over the last 40 years we have admitted over 3 million refugees, so no one could possibly track them.  So, I was surprised to see that in ‘Key Indicators for Refugee Placement FY2014′ the feds are reporting that they have tracked secondary migrants, but surely (the numbers are so small) it must be the most recently resettled ones that are being tracked.

I don’t know what they mean when they say “states report” (page 9).  Who in the “state” is keeping track, the non-government contractors, or some agency of state government?

  Each year states report on the number of refugees and entrants who moved to a different state outside of their original resettlement location.

Check out the list!

Top five states with the most out-migration are:  Arizona, California, New York, Texas and Pennsylvania  (but as a percentage of the huge numbers resettled in CA, NY and TX these numbers are probably not that meaningful).

States with the most in-migration of secondary migrants are:  MN (by a huge margin), OH, Iowa, FL and OK.

Secondary migrants are surely the reason the St. Cloud, MN Somali population is booming.

Our previous posts on this important document, Key Indicators…., are here.

Posted in Community destabilization, Refugee Resettlement Program, Refugee statistics, Where to find information, Who is going where, Your State | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

Someone is selling Wyoming governor a bill of goods!

Posted by Ann Corcoran on March 19, 2014

Wyoming had 5 eligible “refugees” in the state in FY2012 and the Governor thinks they need a federal plan?

This week we reported on Wyoming Governor Matt Mead’s op-ed in which he said Wyoming needed a plan (with the feds and their contractors) to cope with the “refugees” already arriving in Wyoming.  I wondered what the heck he was talking about.

This morning I’m working on another post on the ‘Key Indicators for Refugee Placement FY2014,’ that is the planning document the US State Department and the Office of Refugee Resettlement (in Health and Human Services) are using to determine if your town or city has the “capacity” and the “welcoming” attitude needed for a refugee resettlement seed community.

I wish I could reproduce it here, but see the figures for FY2012 in this table (p.3-4).  It is a state-by-state review of how many refugees/asylees etc. came to your state and what goodies they get there.

By the way, don’t be fooled (don’t start salivating for federal dollars!) by that last column which lists the federal $$$ going to your state—the majority goes to the CONTRACTOR to spend, it is not money that goes into your state or city coffers for your local leaders to decide where to soften the refugee impact.

And, always keep in mind there are NO FINANCIAL AUDITS of the contractors!

So get this Wyoming!

Go to pages 3 & 4 of ‘Key indicators….’  You had a whopping 5 (five!) refugees in Wyoming in FY2012.   And, those were asylees!  Asylees have been granted asylum.  They got into the US illegally (Mexicans are now asking for asylum) or overstayed a visa, claimed they would be persecuted if sent home and were granted asylum.  We recently reported that a Congressional hearing revealed that as many as 70% of those granted asylum may have made fraudulent claims.

For readers new to this subject, the most recent ‘famous’ aslyees were the Boston Bombers!

So Governor Mead wants to turn over Wyoming’s demographic future to the feds for a handful of asylees, another handful of secondary migrants, and a handful of change from the federal taxpayer?   It will be more than a handful of refugees once Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains gets its foot in the door.

Residents of Casper and Gillette must speak up before it’s too late!

Posted in Asylum seekers, Changing the way we live, Immigration fraud, Refugee Resettlement Program, Resettlement cities, Taxpayer goodies, Where to find information, Your State | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

The feds and contractors need to find more resettlement towns and cities

Posted by Ann Corcoran on March 17, 2014

The ones they have are at the saturation point and so the hunt is on!  (Get it Wyoming!)

It’s been on actually for some time, but last summer the State Department (PRM) and the Dept. of Health and Human Services (ORR) began to spell out what they are looking for in a “welcoming” community.  They published their ‘guidance’  in a boring-sounding report entitled, ‘Key Indicators for Refugee Placement in FY 2014.’  

I had the report, but had filed it away for a slow day, which didn’t come until last week.

Bottomline is that they want to find out where they can get the best goodies for refugees in a welcoming atmosphere!  They have compiled state data for “stakeholders:”

…including state-by-state employment rates, health insurance access, average housing costs and state minimum wages.

They have had eleven meetings since 2011, some are conference calls, but others are site visits like one they described in Minnesota:

ORR and PRM staff conducted a joint site visit to Minnesota and engaged with representatives of a resettlement agency, area service providers and the state and local government to discuss resettlement needs and gauge local support and capacity for new resettlement possibilities.  [They love that word capacity!----ed]

See the full report, we will have more to say about it in coming days.

See our ‘where to find information’ category for more on reports like this one, statistics etc. that you will need to educate your communities.

Posted in Changing the way we live, Legal immigration and jobs, Refugee Resettlement Program, Refugee statistics, Taxpayer goodies, Where to find information, Your State | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

What is the population of Middle Eastern and North African immigrants in your state?

Posted by Ann Corcoran on February 26, 2014

I was looking for something else, and I’ll post it when I find it, but the Migration Policy Institute, last fall, published this useful information on MENA immigrants in America.  Who knew that there was even a separate category for them.

Before you read on, just a reminder that the Migration Policy Institute is a pro-open-borders Leftie-funded (Soros et al) ‘think tank,’ (we wrote a lengthy post on them here in 2011), however, since the Left needs this data too (LOL! for voter outreach), I doubt they would mess with stats like these.

MPI says the top 5 states for MENAs are:  California, New York, Michigan, Texas and New Jersey.  It looks like Virginia and Florida are not far behind!

Migration Policy Institute:

Political unrest and violent conflict have displaced millions in Syria and other parts of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) since late 2010, generating significant international interest in immigrants and refugees from the region.

In the United States, the September 11, 2001 attacks and subsequent military intervention in Iraq in 2003 also drew heightened — and sometimes unwanted — attention to the highly diverse MENA immigrant populations in the country, many of whom are Muslim. Yet immigrants from the MENA region have a long history in the United States. As early as 1920, the country was home to at least 50,000 immigrants from the region, primarily from what was then Palestine and Syria, including present-day Lebanon. Their numbers have steadily grown over the past few decades, and in 2012, about 961,000 immigrants from the region resided in the United States, representing just above 2 percent of the nation’s 40.8 million immigrants.

Iraqis are the largest single-country immigrant population from this region, followed closely by Egyptians. The number of immigrants from Saudi Arabia and Yemen has also grown rapidly over the past decade.

[.....]

Compared to other immigrant groups, the foreign born from the MENA region are better educated and tend to have higher levels of English proficiency, but have comparatively lower rates of labor force participation.  [So, are they living off the US taxpayer?---ed]

There are lots of links to follow for more information, here are just two bullet points I followed.  If you have a feeling the speed of their arrival has increased, the answer is Yes!

Forty-five percent of foreign born from the MENA region in the United States arrived in 2000 or later.
In 2011, 45 percent of MENA foreign born had entered the country in 2000 or later, with 25 percent having arrived between 1990 and 1999, 15 percent between 1980 and 1989, and the remaining 16 percent prior to 1980.

MENA men and women don’t like to work!

Immigrant men and women from the MENA region were less likely to participate in the civilian labor force than were foreign-born men and women overall.
In 2011, foreign-born men ages 16 and older from the MENA region were less likely to participate in the civilian labor force (72 percent) than were all foreign-born men (78 percent). Foreign-born women from MENA countries were also less likely to participate in the labor force (42 percent) than were all immigrant women (57 percent).

Among men, Algerians (91 percent) and Sudanese (87 percent) had the highest labor force participation rates, while Iraqis (65 percent) and Saudis (23 percent) had the lowest labor force participation.

Consider that we resettled 19,491 Iraqis in the US in 2013, here, and are on target to admit a similar number this year, it sure looks like the US taxpayer is going to be supporting a large percentage of them.  And, by the way, who the heck are all those (rich?) Saudis getting into the US, and through what legal program?

We have a category here at RRW entitled, ‘where to find information’, and this post will be archived there.

Posted in Africa, Changing the way we live, Iraqi refugees, Muslim refugees, Refugee Resettlement Program, Taxpayer goodies, Where to find information, Your State | Tagged: | 7 Comments »

Which refugees came to your state in fiscal year 2012

Posted by Ann Corcoran on February 5, 2014

Just now, when I checked data for how many refugees we resettled from Afghanistan, I came across this data for which states took which refugees in fiscal year 2012.   Although fiscal year 2013 ended on September 30th, 2013, I am not seeing the latest data.

African refugees arrive in Texas. Gee, isn’t this the number one red state the Leftists are aiming to turn blue?

I urge you to visit these Office of Refugee Resettlement state statistics to see from which countries refugees arrived in your state.

The top receiving states were:

Texas:  5,923

California:  5,173

Michigan:  3,594

New York:  3,528

Pennsylvania:  2,809

The states which received the least number of refugees were:

Of course Wyoming with zero and not even on the list (they have wisely stayed out of the program, so far!)

And, this is so interesting Delaware is not on the list either.  Isn’t that funny!  Senator Joe Biden was one of the chief sponsors of the Refugee Act of 1980 along with Ted (don’t-bring-them-to-Hyannis) Kennedy and yet Delaware took no refugees.

Hawaii:  1

Montana:  1

Mississippi:  8

Arkansas:  10

District of Columbia:  14

Go have a look!

Photo is here.

Posted in Changing the way we live, Community destabilization, Refugee Resettlement Program, Refugee statistics, Who is going where, Your State | Tagged: | 7 Comments »

Kentucky: Tales of woe grow as federal shutdown continues to impact resettlement contractors

Posted by Ann Corcoran on October 16, 2013

The program is grinding to a halt until possibly the end of the month.  Church World Service (one of nine US State Department contractors) says some refugees may be delayed for three months.

Elizabeth Kaznak: might have to dig into private resources to pay our staff!

Here is the news (emphasis mine) from the Journal-Courier which begins with a sad tale (and intersperses sad tales in between the news-worthy bits):

Now more than 2 weeks old, the shutdown forced the U.S. State Department to suspend most refugee arrivals and enact a travel moratorium, partly because the financial, medical and federal benefits or services aren’t available in some areas to help newcomers from Somalia, Iraq, Myanmar, Bhutan and a host of other countries, officials said.

Although most expect Congress to reach an agreement to reopen the government, resettlement won’t restart until at least Oct. 28 — and even then, the shutdown’s cascading effect on complex approval, documentation and travel logistics will delay many arrivals for months.

[....]

The shutdown “really has a domino effect,” said Darko Mihaylovich, director of Louisville’s Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services.

The Obama Administration had just announced on October 1 the goal of resettling 70,000 more refugees in FY2014, see here.  Some delays might be as long as three months!

In Kentucky, October arrivals have been canceled across the commonwealth — 40 in Louisville, 19 in Lexington and 14 in Bowling Green and Owensboro — according to local and state resettlement officials.

Church World Service, one of a handful of federally approved resettlement agencies, reported that nearly half of the refugees under its authority, initially cleared for travel in October, will be delayed as long as three months.

Refugees here already shouldn’t worry yet—-they will still have their welfare benefits.

Darko Mihaylovich says welfare/food stamps continue (so far).

For the refugees already resettled in Louisville, help is still available. Mihaylovich said state aid such as food stamps and other aid have continued in Kentucky so far.

The shutdown has prevented some refugees from getting Social Security cards, which they need to obtain work permits.

Oh no!  Since “non-profit” resettlement contractors are paid by the head to resettle refugees, they might have to use their own money while times are tight!  Kentucky Refugee Ministries is a subcontractor of Church World Service.

Kaznak [Elizabeth Kaznak, executive director] of Kentucky Refugee Ministries said Kentucky Refugee Ministries, which operates on a tight budget, is having to use reserves to continue to pay caseworkers and provide services, partly because the shutdown has kept the agency from getting the federal reimbursement of $750 per arrival budgeted for October.

Maria Koerner, assistant director of the Kentucky Office for Refugees, said the shutdown has delayed disbursement of some of the $9 million in federal funding Kentucky gets annually to help pay for cash assistance and medical help for new arrivals, but so far it’s not harming services.

Check out Kentucky Refugee Ministries recent Form 990 (here).  They took in $3.7 million (rounded number) in revenue in 2011.  $3.3 million of that came from GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS while only $290,000 appears to have been privately raised (see p. 9).  Just a reminder: these were supposed to be public-private partnerships when the refugee law was first enacted, not quasi-government agencies.

On page 10 we learn that they paid out $1.6 million for salaries and benefits.  Office expenses and rent came out to approximately $285,000.  So we can see things will be tight if the federal government (the taxpayer!) pipeline continues to slow.

Sure, looks like they don’t have much of a private reserve to fall back on.

Posted in Refugee Resettlement Program, Resettlement cities, Taxpayer goodies, Who is going where, Your State | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

Migrants, including refugees, evicted from tents under Indianapolis bridge

Posted by Ann Corcoran on August 28, 2013

So we do have migrant camps in America.

Indianapolis tent city where immigrants and refugees were living until a few days ago.

Although not all of the 60-plus evicted from under an Indiana bridge are immigrants, I’ve been wondering for some time if the overload of unemployable (for one reason or another) immigrants in the US would eventually lead to encampments like those we see in Israel and Europe.  And, then I wonder if those stories (like this one) ever reached the mainstream media would the average American get-it about the perils of open borders and unlimited immigration.

From the AP (hat tip: ‘pungentpeppers’):

INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis police arrested several homeless people Monday who ignored the city’s order to vacate a makeshift camp near the city’s downtown area where dozens of tents had been set up beneath a railroad bridge.

The bridge on downtown Indianapolis’ south side was home to about 24 tents, and about half the residents folded up their shelters and left in response to the city’s 9 a.m. removal order.

But city police arrested at least five people who refused to the leave and disposed of the remaining tents.

Maurice Young, the camp’s self-appointed caretaker, was taken into custody along with a handful of camp supporters. Young told The Indianapolis Star (http://indy.st/19TvijU ) all the city has done is disperse the homeless residents.

Mixed group of residents, many with mental illnesses, drug addictions:

Young said he and his supporters want individualized solutions but he said that since Indianapolis doesn’t offer that he and the others have chosen to live outside the city’s homeless shelter system and on their own terms.

He said the homeless camp’s population fluctuates, but until a few weeks ago 67 people lived in the camp.

After the city’s Department of Public Works posted signs Aug. 19 ordering the land to be vacated by Monday, he said that about 10 people moved out.

Those that stayed until Monday ranged in age from about 30 to 74 and included about 15 women, two of them pregnant, and 10 veterans. The others are immigrants or refugees from Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Liberia, Haiti, Jamaica and Mexico.

Young estimated about 80 percent have mental health issues, while others have addictions.

Indiana Overload!

For new readers, Indiana has had quite a problem with an overload of refugees especially in the Ft. Wayne area, although Indianapolis is also a “preferred” resettlement site.  Catholic Charities of Indianapolis is a primary refugee contractor there and I hope they have been contacted to see if any of their ‘clients’ have been living under the bridge.  Maybe the good Catholic parishioners of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis will take some of these destitute people into their homes?

Back in 2010, then Indiana Senator Richard Lugar requested a GAO study of the refugee program as a result of the lack of communication between the federal government/contractors on one side and local governments/citizens on the other who felt they were being swamped with refugees they couldn’t possibly afford to care for.  The GAO report is here and it is well worth your time to read it.  Whether it mattered one bit to the State Department and the ORR is not evident.

For more information type ‘Indiana’ or ‘Fort Wayne’ into our search function.

Posted in Changing the way we live, Refugee Resettlement Program, Resettlement cities, Your State | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

Tennessee legislators want answers about fiscal impact of refugee resettlement

Posted by Ann Corcoran on August 25, 2013

This is a report from Bobbie Patray of the Tennessee Eagle Forum about the first meeting of a select committee of the Tennessee legislature to address  the 10th Amendment of the Constitution and the encroachment by the federal government on states’ rights in regards to the resettlement of migrants in the state by Catholic Charities (through the US State Department).

Holly Johnson, Catholic Charities TN, with her Idaho counterpart at 2010 Refugee meeting. In Tennessee, Catholic Charities calls the shots on resettlement.

See our earlier coverage here.  (You will find links there for reports from The Tennessean and Nashville Public Radio.)

Patray:

It was an exciting day to be at Legislative Plaza and see history being made yesterday.  The first official meeting of the Joint Legislative Advisory Committee was convened. This creation of and mission of this committee grew out of the increasing concern of both legislators and grassroots activists about the ongoing encroachment of the federal government on the constitutional rights of the sovereign states.

Members of the committee are: Rep. Judd Matheny, Chairman, Rep. John Ragan, Rep. Joe Carr, Rep. Josh Evans, Rep. Mike Turner, Sen. Mike Bell, Sen. Janice Bowling, Sen. Ferrell Haile, Sen. Thelma Harper, Sen. Jim Summerville.  All members were present except Sen. Harper.

There was enough interest in this important issue that other legislators attended: Rep. Jeremy Faison, Rep. G.A. Hardaway, Rep. David Alexander, Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, Rep. Shelia Butt, Sen. Mark Green, M.D., Sen. Frank Niceley.

It was that concern that drove the motive for taking up the first issue of this committee:  The Federal Cost Shifting of the Refugee Resettlement program.

As one article stated: “A newly-created legislative committee met for the first time Wednesday to investigate the indirect fiscal impact of refugee resettlements. They were given an unsatisfying answer: no one is keeping track.”

That is the problem.   Each year, lawmakers are responsible for passing a budget and certainly have a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayer to know where these dollars are going.  Except….in this case…they don’t!!!

Chairman Judd Matheny CLEARLY laid out the parameters of the discussion:  It was ONLY about the COST SHIFTING to the states.  It was NOT about the value of the refugee resettlement program, it was NOT about what the refugees bring to this state, it was NOT about the work that the providers or participants do.

It is not just Tennessee lawmakers that  have these concerns.  Two years ago, the National Governors Association stated: “The federal government’s unwillingness to provide adequate funding for costs attributable to migration and resettlement services has resulted in a dramatic shift of program costs from the federal government to state and local taxpayers.”

The first speaker, Kasar Abdulla,  started telling her personal story, which, of course, was compelling. However, as was stated earlier, the value of the program was NOT the subject of the hearing.  Chairman Matheny asked her a couple of time to please stick to the topic, but she did not and, in fact, clearly was not prepared to do that.  So the Chairman called for the next speaker, Holly Johnson, State Refugee Coordinator, Tennessee Office for Refugees, Catholic Charities of TN, Inc.  After Miss Johnson spoke, Don Barnett and Joanne Bregman, Esq.  addressed the committee.  Bregman’s testimony was incredible as she revealed the cold, hard facts and figures.  The last speaker  Stephen Fotopulos, with the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition was totally out of line with his testimony.

Just as a snapshot, Sen. Mark Green, M.D., observed that using the two numbers provided in the testimonies, the refugee program would be costing TennCare between $7.2million  and $12.1million over a four year period.  This is the kind of information that is desperately needed for budget purposes and that we have not been able to get hard figures on.  The committee passed a motion to ask the Fiscal Review Committee to do a comprehensive study of all aspects of this program with emphasis on any cost shifting, expenses incurred, what enabling legislation they are acting under, including a proportionality of refugees coming to TN versus other states to present at the November 12 meeting.

Click here to watch the proceedings.  For more on Tennessee and refugees, click here.

Photo is from this story about a Wilson-Fish (Office of Refugee Resettlement) meeting in Washington, here.  When you click that W-F link you can see if your state refugee program is now being run by a non-governmental agency.

Oops!  Depending on your screen size, in an earlier version of this post, the TEF logo blocks Johnson’s face… should have checked that first!

Posted in Changing the way we live, Nashville, Refugee Resettlement Program, The Opposition, Your State | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

 
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