Forget asking nicely, time to use freedom of information laws (Michigan model)
Posted by Ann Corcoran on September 15, 2016
We learned this week that the Obama Administration is setting the table for a huge increase in the number of refugees to be admitted to the US for the new fiscal year which begins October 1, presumably setting things up for a Hillary presidency (and making it harder for a Trump administration to pull those numbers back in January without hate-filled attacks against him when/if he does. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth—waahhh!—with refugee contractors saying they are already in the pipeline).
We also know that the REPUBLICAN Congress has the final word because they can appropriate money for the program or withhold the funding in the next few weeks and months.
However, now that the Presidential determination has been sent to Congress there is no reason a local refugee office or a state refugee coordinator*** should withhold from you the Reception and Placement Abstract which lays out how many the local resettlement contractor is planning for your town.
I know many of you have been asking nicely for those important planning documents and are being rebuffed.
They like to use the excuse that they were in the deliberative stage with their plans for your communities, but that excuse is now gone! All of those documents were used to prepare the determination that has been delivered to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.
(BTW, you might look at the rosters for both committees and see if your Member of Congress or Senator is on the committee, then get on the phone and call their office and tell them you want the R & P Abstract for ____federal resettlement agency working in your town/city. Put the office to work for you! LOL! I’ll bet your Washington rep has never seen the documents that will ultimately change his or her district forever!)
However, you may just have to go the FOIA route.
Every state has a Public Information law (it might not be called FOIA where you live, FOIA usually refers to the federal law) managed by your state’s attorney general. For example, here is Maryland’s.
Find the site where you live and then use the request letter template they provide. When using the state FOIAs, response time is pretty quick (usually).
If you have months to wait, then try the federal FOIA on the US State Department or the Office of Refugee Resettlement in HHS (but be sure to find the correct request template or they will just kick your letter back).
Michigan as a model….
Concerned citizens in Michigan used their state’s public information law and finally received their planning documents for the resettlement cities in that state.
Here is Michael Patrick Leahy at Breitbart reporting on what they found:
Breitbart News has obtained the FY 2017 refugee resettlement proposals from the five leading resettlement agencies that operate in Michigan showing they plan to jam down a 40 percent increase in refugees from the “Middle East-South Asia” region, which includes Syria, on residents of Michigan in the fiscal year that begins on October 1.
These plans in Michigan are completely consistent with the nationwide “refugee number determination” the Obama Administration presented to Congress on Tuesday: an increase of the FY 2017 ceiling by 29 percent to 110,000, up from the ceiling of 85,000 that was approved for FY 2016. The actual final number for FY 2016 is likely to reach or exceed the original ceiling number, if the run rate of the last few months continues for the final two weeks of the fiscal year.
In their FY 2016 plans, these five agencies–Lutheran Social Services (which recently changed the name of its Michigan operation to Samaritas), Church World Service, Catholic Charities, HIAS (formerly the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), and Episcopal Migration Ministries— proposed 4,060 refugees overall to be resettled in Michigan, 2,567 from the “Middle East-South Asia” region, which includes Syria. As of September 13, 3,783 total refugees, 1,217 of whom are from Syria, have been resettled in Michigan to date this fiscal year. At the accelerated run rate of the past few months, year end numbers are likely to hit or exceed the FY 2016 plan for 4,000 total refugees in Michigan, of which over 1,300 are Syrian refugees.
The FY 2017 plans, obtained through Freedom of Information Act request made to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services by a local Michigan grassroots group (as were the FY 2016 plans), show that that these five resettlement agencies have proposed a 38 percent increase in overall refugee resettlement, up to 5,606 refugees. This includes a 40 percent increase in refugees from the “Middle East-South Asia” region that includes Syria, to 3,586.
There is much more, continue reading here. Can you believe it! They are sending impoverished third worlders to Flint starting in October!
Also, visit Secure Michigan to get some ideas about what you can do in your state to fight back!
***State refugee coordinators are listed here.