Article explains why Texas withdrawal from Refugee Program may benefit resettlement in state (in long run)
Posted by Ann Corcoran on November 10, 2016
For everyone getting excited about governors withdrawing from the Refugee Admissions Program, please take a breath.
The feds will simply pick a non-profit refugee contractor to run the program unless the governor takes the second step and that is, after being declared a Wilson-Fish state, he or she joins the Tennessee Tenth Amendment case prepared by the Thomas More Law Center.
Not too long about Kansas and New Jersey withdrew, but I haven’t heard a peep out of Governors Brownback (KS) or Christie (NJ) that they would now seek to defend their state’s rights.
Here is a portion of the story about Texas from Vice magazine (emphasis is mine):
…Texas has resorted to withdrawal from the federal resettlement program—but the same number of refugees will continue to be resettled in Texas, according to Victoria Palmer, public affairs specialist for the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families. The difference is in the distribution of funds and services for those individuals and families. Currently, the State of Texas receives the funds to distribute to nonprofits, which distribute money to the refugees and offer support services. Now, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) will instead choose one or a few nonprofits to receive and distribute those funds.
“While we of course regret Texas’s decision, ORR is working to appoint designees to administer services to refugees in Texas,” Palmer told me. “ORR is working to prevent a disruption in the delivery of services and benefits to refugees and entrants in Texas.”
And the US Department of State, which screens refugees and works with ORR to distribute them, said Texas would continue to receive all groups of refugees, including Syrians.
“Applicants to the US Refugee Admissions Program are currently subject to the highest level of security checks of any category of traveler to the United States,” a State Department official told me in an emailed statement. “Syrian refugees are screened to an even higher level.”
Since Texas’s withdrawal can’t block resettlement, immigration experts told me the move was purely for show.
Lin and Palmer both told me that Texas would eventually operate resettlement through a model that 12 states already use, called the Wilson-Fish Program. Under that program, the federal government picks one or a few organizations to serve as long-term partners, distributing funds and services to nonprofits and to refugees throughout the state.
Palmer said ORR would soon make a request for “competitive bids” to serve as the distributors.
“The organizations chosen to be the main agency for the state will be more burdened, but these agencies have been doing this for a very long time,” Lin said.
Texas will be the largest state to use the alternative program—which Aaron Rippenkroeger, the CEO and president of Refugee Services Texas, said was cause for concern.
But Rubin of the IRC assured me that Texas’s withdrawal may even open the door to a better resettlement process.
Texas grassroots citizens concerned about refugee resettlement in the state must pressure the governor to take step #2 and sue! But, if you do this, you MUST make sure your Washington reps know what you are doing and how you feel—see calling on Texas (your members of Congress are in key positions to do something!). As I said yesterday, I think you would be stunned to find out how isolated your Washington reps are in their little Capitol Hill bubble.
Click here to learn more about Wilson-Fish states.
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