Guest post: A report from someone on the inside (information you should know!)

Editor: This is an anonymous submission to RRW from someone who has experience working for a refugee resettlement agency. Increasingly we are hearing from people with firsthand knowledge of what is involved with resettling refugees in America.  These are people who feel compassion for many of the refugees they have worked with, but also know that the UN/US State Department Refugee Admission Program is flawed and needs extensive reform.  We applaud their bravery in speaking out.

From ‘anonymous’…

After working for several years for a refugee resettlement VOLAG***,  I was dismayed to see the following areas of irresponsibility. Before I begin, it should be noted that all of my co-workers, many former refugees, themselves, went beyond what the job calls for in assisting their refugee clients. They remained “on call” to their clients and served more hours than they were paid for. I can’t fault them on the quality of their service.

Somali family Indiana
Elderly and disabled refugees like this Somali man in Indiana receive 7 years of SSI benefits just like any other American (although he never paid in to the system). However, refugees must apply to become US citizens in that time frame. In searching around (into the regulatory weeds) I learned that there is also a 3 year extension available. More on extensions here:

What I DO fault them, and all the staff at the VOLAG, for is what I view as continually enabling refugee clients to remain dependent on social services and welfare handouts. While all staff certainly encouraged their clients to get jobs and keep them, when the clients quit their jobs (quit, not laid off!) the caseworkers were quick to ask the Director to pay rent and utilities for these clients. The Director was pretty quick to do so, when there were funds available.

An occasional helping-out for someone who is seriously working and trying to take care of his family is compassionate. A continual coming-to-the-rescue of clients who just can’t or won’t keep a job is crippling.

The motive for paying the rent more than a couple of times is not really compassion (in my viewpoint). I think it’s because the staff realize they need to keep a good relationship with the apartment complexes. Clients being evicted for non payment of rent is bad for the refugee resettlement business!

A number of young, single, male Eritrean and Ethiopian refugees were very transient. Three or four of them would sign a year’s lease (required by the apartment) but then they would all move around the complex as they found their friends or others they’d rather live with. They frequently broke their leases just like they frequently quit their jobs.

Interestingly, I observed that Sudanese, Bhutanese, and Burmese were, generally, as a “people group”, very hard working, saved their money, helped out others in their community.

Eritreans (mostly young, single, males, Orthodox Christians) and Iraqis (almost ALL Sunni and Shiite Muslims) seemed to have the most difficult time keeping jobs. Housekeeping was a no-no for Muslims; landscaping was too hot; meat industry was too cold. They frequently just up and quit because the job locations were too far away (two bus rides and a couple of hours). And, anyway, there were enough ethnic owned convenience stores and Middle Eastern restaurants that paid “under the table” to keep them going.

Finally, the thing that burned me up (still does!) is the fact that refugees aged 65 and over automatically qualify for SSI benefits!

This benefit was over $700 a month. They are also waived from applying for work, but are assured of getting Medicaid and food stamps! I’m getting ‘up there’ myself, been working for decades, and have paid into the system instead of being a drain on it! What’s up with that?

I never understood why the caseworkers and Director didn’t see how the financial irresponsibility on the part of so many refugees, their unwillingness to do certain jobs,their entitlement mentality, and dependence on welfare, coupled with the sheer NUMBERS coming into this country, is contributing to the eventual downfall of Judaeo-Christian society.

I recommend that RRW readers spread the word, question their local resettlement agencies, attend refugee related meetings in their states (If they’re government funded, they’re PUBLIC meetings), question their elected officials, research the impact resettlement is having on your local school systems, and, finally, get involved as volunteers and try to have an impact on the refugees coming into their communities.

When refugees first arrive they often like to have an American friend. They actually trust Americans more than their own countrymen, I found. Why not try to teach them the Judeo-Christian principles you believe in? Why not try to impress upon them the basic values we cherish, i.e., fiscal responsibility, independence from welfare, community service, being a contributor rather than a drain? They ARE going to become citizens and voters, within about five years of arrival.

While you’re trying to slow the flow (it’ll never stop), why not get involved and exert some influence? You’ve got nothing to lose and a country to save?

Thank you for speaking out!  This post is filed for future reference in our category entitled, ‘Comments worth noting/guest posts’ here.

***VOLAG is an acronym used in the refugee industry.  It stands for Voluntary Agency which I think is such a joke because most VOLAGS are largely funded by you, the US taxpayer, and are thus hardly doing this work voluntarily (implying with charitable motives). The nine major federal contractors, or VOLAGS, are here.

7 thoughts on “Guest post: A report from someone on the inside (information you should know!)

  1. I skimmed this article and wasn’t altogether surprised. What was painfully obvious to me was the ineptitude and carelessness of the resettlement agency itself, both nationally and locally. Cultural orientation should be an intensive on-going effort on the part of agency staff and volunteers. Refugees must play a central role in achieving “self-sufficiency” (ineligible for cash assistance) within 6-8 months after arrival, or before if possible. By nature, refugees are hard workers and survivors, but if the agency does not single-mindedly tap into this potential, the DOS self-sufficiency goals of both the agency and the refugees themselves is imperiled. Whenever there is no cooperation from able-bodied refugees, the agency must not bail them out. It’s a tough love approach that works; not an overly generous and short-sighted approach. Helping refugees help themselves is the name of the game. There is no reasonable substitute. Would like to know what the program’s early employment rates were. I suspect they were/are disastrous, in which case their national office shouldn’t supply the program with additional “free cases”. Sounds like the failure is top to bottom. A well-oiled, realistic, tough-minded and well-managed program doesn’t just happen. It must be achieved through incredibly hard work and competent management.


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