Refugee agencies nervous about what’s ahead for program under Trump Administration
Posted by Ann Corcoran on December 15, 2016
Editor: Apologies for not posting all of the comments you sent yesterday, most didn’t appear until I got up this morning. What is up with wordpress?
I’ve been keeping an eye out for stories about how refugee resettlement contractors and the Obama agencies responsible for resettlement are reacting to the coming Trump Administration. They are no doubt fearful that Trump will act on his campaign promises—-some are more optimistic than others that it was all talk on the campaign trail.
(For the record we expect Trump to stop the program (at a minimum) from terror producing regions*** of the world within days of his inauguration on January 20th. And, we expect all Obama political appointees responsible for the refugee program to be gone before that date!)
Here is news from VICE magazine (featuring Texas) about some of the reaction (emphasis is mine):
Resettlement agencies in Texas—and other states with governors who have fought to block refugees—are working harder than ever to soothe their clients in the wake of the election of Donald Trump, who pledged during his campaign to severely restrict refugees from settling in the US. Now, as resettlement agencies try to keep a calm face, they also brace for a possible halt on the country’s refugee program, which advocates warn could cause a humanitarian disaster.
The president-elect has kept quiet about his resettlement plans since his election, and his press office did not return requests for comment. But during his campaign, Trump vowed to suspend the acceptance of all Syrians and to stop sending refugees to any community that opposed them. [More on this below—ed]
“A Trump administration will not admit any refugees without the support of the local community where they are being placed,” Trump said just three days before the election in a Minnesota campaign speech. He added that the state had “suffered enough” since Somali refugees began arriving. Later, after a Somali refugee attacked students at Ohio State, Trump tweeted that the 18-year-old “should not have been in our country.”
If a Trump administration does decide to block refugee resettlement in certain communities, the move would be unprecedented. Currently, the Office of Refugee Resettlement places refugees throughout the country with the help of national NGOs under the federal refugee resettlement program. States cannot turn away refugees, even if their communities don’t want them.
Abbott’s withdrawal, largely seen as a political move, can’t actually prevent new refugees from coming to Texas. But some warn that the Trump administration could cut services and funds, effectively gutting these programs. [This is the key in my opinion because the resettlement contractors have almost no private resources—ed]
“If the services we provide now were to stop, it would be a humanitarian disaster,” Rippenkroeger told me. “There would be people homeless, without medical coverage and food. It would be a very direct human catastrophe so we can’t afford for the program not to be fully functional.”
Look at this! This program costs the federal taxpayer $100 million alone just for Texas for one year!
Texas is slated to receive about $100 million in federal funds for refugee resettlement in 2017…
“There’s no amount of fundraising we could do to replace federal support.” [That is right because people give their private charitable gifts to efforts they approve of!—ed]
Then this is something I expected was going on big time and not just in Texas—emptying the coffers at ORR before January 20th (not necessarily for refugees but to keep the contractor offices open).
Amid the uncertainty, Rippenkroeger said the Office of Refugee Resettlement was working with a “nose to the grindstone approach” in setting up a system to distribute federal funds through the Texas NGOs.
Refugee advocates in other parts of the country where anti-refugee sentiment is common displayed similar reserve when I asked them about Trump’s resettlement plans. Cole Varga, executive director of Exodus Refugee Immigration Inc.—the organization that sued Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana and vice president-elect, for trying to block Syrian refugees from the state—told me he was hopeful.
“Currently, we have not received any word from our national partners or the State Department on how the incoming Trump administration will run the federal government’s refugee resettlement program,” Varga told me in an email, declining to comment on the lawsuit.
Do not get excited by Trump’s statement about not sending refugees to communities that don’t want them. This is not realistic and a long-time Church World Service head honcho gives us one reason why:
Even if Trump allows certain communities to pull out of resettlement, he can’t stop refugees from moving states after arriving in the US—which means the most significant difference may be the money states receive, noted Erol Kekic, executive director of the national resettlement agency Church World Service.
“Immigration is a federal matter, and if the nation continues to admit refugees, they’re free to go wherever they want the moment they arrive,” Kekic told me. “They may not receive services, but they’re free to move—so even if Governor Abbott says he wants none in Texas, how will he know a refugee won’t move to Texas?”
The RAP is built on a house of cards primarily based on federal funding per head of refugee admitted to the US. The ultimate answer is to stop the program (stop the numbers coming in and the funding for it!) altogether until the Refugee Act of 1980 can be reformed or trashed entirely.
I have to laugh when Kekic (above) says that “immigration is a federal matter,” but I would bet a buck he is all for those sanctuary cities thumbing their noses at the incoming Trump team saying they (the city) will decide whether to enforce federal immigration law or not.
***On terror producing regions of the world. I am talking specifically about Syrians, Somalis, Burmese Rohingya Muslims, Afghans, and most Iraqis wherever in the world we are picking them up. For example, Trump’s people can’t say “we won’t take any refugees from Somalia.” Most Somalis are not in Somalia any longer, but scattered around the world (some in very safe countries) and we are taking them to America anyway! Again, at this point in time, Donald Trump as President must stop or slow the flow across the board and not get into the weeds on the issue of whether a community wants refugees or not!
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