Editor: It is very exciting that our learning curve is growing exponentially now that so many of you are digging into documents and asking questions where you live. Here is one more piece of information activists have found in St. Cloud, MN.
The other day I reported that the US State Department told Rep. Trey Gowdy that the resettlement subcontractors “hold community consultations” to gather information to prepare plans for your town.
But, guess what! You, the concerned citizen and taxpayer are not permitted to attend!
This is the text of an e-mail a concerned citizen activist received from a spokeswoman, Kim Dettmer, for Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota:
I have received your email regarding your interest in refugee resettlement consultations. I will attempt, here, to clarify the purpose of these meetings .
The U.S. State Department requires all resettlement organizations, such as Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, to comply with federal program regulations that call for quarterly meetings among the key stakeholders directly involved in coordinating or providing services to refugees as part of the resettlement process.
The regulation reads:
” The Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) issued guidance in their Program Announcement # 14, dated September 26, 2013 (Appendix 1), to all Reception and Placement Agencies and State Refugee Coordinators concerning the need for greater Reception and Placement (R&P) local consultations concerning the placement of refugees. PRM requires all local R&P affiliates to convene quarterly consultations with stakeholders involved in the resettlement process.
Furthermore, per the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), requires states to convene meetings, no less than on a quarterly basis, where representatives of local resettlement agencies, local community service agencies, and other agencies that serve refugees meet with representatives of state and local governments to plan and coordinate the appropriate placement of refugees in advance of the refugees’ arrival.”
The regulations go on to state:
“The consultations may take place in-person, via teleconference, videoconference, or a combination of these. Resettlement agencies should ensure that the representatives from the following sectors are invited to the consultations.
· State refugee coordinator
· State refugee health coordinator
· Local governance (city and/or county, as applicable)
· Local and/or county public health (local health partners)
· Welfare and social services
· Public education
Local resettlement organizations should ensure discussion includes:
· Year-to-date arrivals and projections through the end of the current federal fiscal year compared to approved placement numbers
· Characteristics of arriving refugee populations, including nationality, ethnicity, average family size and composition, language and education background, and medical conditions
· Participant stakeholders’ abilities to adequately serve the actual and projected caseload
· Best practices
· Issues that prevent adequate resettlement or result in changes in placement plans”
To summarize, the purpose of these quarterly meetings is to convene those individuals and organizations directly engaged in delivering services to refugees during the resettlement process, and provides us with a crucial forum through which to coordinate those services.
Each participant is responsible for bringing to those conversations any concerns expressed by the broader public; however, these consultations are not intended to include the general public. [Note that the regulations must not say the public is to be excluded, or she would have quoted that. They are simply writing their own law here!—ed]
I hope this clarifies the purpose of these required meetings, and I welcome any feedback or input you might have that I could share with the quarterly consultation group.
Kim M. Dettmer, M.A.
Director of Refugee Services
Lutheran Social Service of MN
2400 Park Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55404
Please call Rep Trey Gowdy, tell him this lack of transparency (this secrecy!) is wrong! Hold oversight hearings and get this whole law reformed or repeal it!
Gowdy is chairman of the Subcommittee responsible for the Refugee Admissions Program.
Readers, this post and others like it is archived in our ‘where to find information’ category.
I can’t emphasize enough that you, in your city or state, must begin to write a website, a blog or a facebook page to catalog everything you learn. Please exercise your free speech (people like Pamela Geller are putting their lives on the line for your right! ). Do your investigations and make sure you spread what you learn to others! Avoid the lazy, often hostile, mainstream media!