State Department and refugee lobby group work on private sponsorship scheme to get more refugees into the US
Posted by Ann Corcoran on October 4, 2016
Update October 19th: More on this scheme. Remember the purpose is to get more refugees in to the country because this private scheme would be in ADDITION to the present system.
So, as it is described by one commenter: Instead of buying a $10,000 car in the coming year, what the heck adopt a Syrian refugee instead.
I would be a proponent of private sponsorship if it accompanied the complete abolition of the present system that involves middlemen federal contractors (the VOLAGs) being paid billions of tax dollars, and required the sponsor to pay for all costs associated with the refugees for a year or two. Congress would, of course, have the final say on numbers, security screening and nationalities permitted entry to the US in my hypothetical re-write of refugee law.
But, this plan, which they are apparently hatching within the State Department and in cooperation with the Refugee Council USA (the resettlement industry’s lobbying arm), is a plan to bring in additional refugees over and above what Congress is willing to pay for.
(For those of you who think we have no impact, this indicates to me that the industry knows there are limits to how much of your money the Congress is willing to shell out to bring hundreds of thousands of impoverished refugees to your towns.)
This really is a pretty audacious concept since they apparently think they can do this ‘in house’ and not involve rewriting refugee law. (Congress writes the laws, or have they forgotten?)
Here is the jaw-dropping (Bloomberg, of course!) story at the Chicago Tribune (hat tip: Julia):
Americans might be able to bring a refugee to the U.S. on their own dime if talks between the Obama administration and the nation’s leading refugee advocacy group come to fruition.
The State Department is considering a pilot program that would let citizens sponsor a refugee from their country of choice by paying for airfare, housing, clothing, food and other resettlement costs. Conversations began in July and are expected to continue in the coming year, said Naomi Steinberg, director of the Refugee Council USA.
The program, modeled after a similar one in Canada, is designed to crack open new sources of funding as growing anti-refugee sentiment in Congress threatens to cut resettlement programs.
“It puts Americans in the driver’s seat,” said Matthew La Corte, policy analyst at the Niskanen Center***, a Washington-based libertarian think tank that was an early supporter of the program. “It allows them to say ‘I have a spare bedroom. I was thinking of buying a new car but I’ll instead take that $10,000 and put it toward bringing a Syrian refugee over.”‘
Such a program would mark one of the biggest structural changes to U.S. refugee policy in three decades, and would allow Barack Obama or future presidents to skirt opposition by shifting financial responsibility to everyday Americans.
[I’m all for shifting all of the costs to those who are promoting refugee resettlement—ed]
For fiscal 2016, Congress appropriated $3.1 billion for refugee and migration assistance programs, the same level as two years earlier, according to figures from the agency.
Private sponsorship “is a good option in terms of increasing numbers without increasing budget outlays,” said Kevin Appleby, senior director of international migration policy at the Center for Migration Studies in New York. [Appleby was formerly the lobbyist in DC for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, we have a lot on him here at RRW—ed]
Refugee Council USA and the state department began talks about private sponsorship this summer, said Steinberg, director at the Washington-based agency, which is an umbrella group for 22 organizations.
The State Department plans to work on the issue “in the year to come,” according to a statement from Mark Storella, a deputy assistant secretary. [Looks like they are pretty confident Hillary will be in the White House.—ed]
Before any program is launched, critical points must be addressed, said Steinberg. The group wants to ensure that sponsorship does not replace existing government programs.
“The only private resettlement program that we could support would be one that increases the number of refugees who arrive in the U.S., while at the same time maintaining and even strengthening the U.S. government commitments,” Steinberg said.
*** What is in it for the libertarians at the Niskanen Center—cheap refugee labor for big business? Would someone tell me!