In an interview at Refugees Deeply, Anne Richard, Asst. Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, says she is “shocked” by the national conversation on refugees and laments that the once bipartisan support for refugee resettlement has almost disappeared during Obama’s term in office.
Editor: Anne Richard is a political appointee and as such she must have tendered her resignation or will be doing it before Friday. Career bureaucrats will be running the refugee program until the Trump people pick a replacement.
Most of the interview focuses on Richard’s struggle to find something that the highly publicized September refugee forum at the UN did to advance their agenda.
We saw the event as a publicity opportunity to advance Hillary Clinton’s Presidential bid and to denigrate Donald Trump whose message about unvetted refugees being placed in unsuspecting communities was resonating with voters. The publicity stunt fizzled especially as countries refused to make any firm commitments.
You can read about it in the first part of this report at Refugees Deeply. In the closing paragraphs of the interview she bemoans the fact that the Refugee Program, once supported on both sides of the aisle, has become a politically charged issue and that there are now members of Congress, governors and some in the media calling for a complete halt to it.
I could tell her where they went wrong, but that isn’t my job.
(Emphasis is mine)
The end of the Obama era coincides with the emergence of deeply polarized views in the U.S. on the country’s leading role in resettling refugees.
The Obama administration has faced strong domestic opposition to increasing the number of refugees it resettles each year from from 85,000 in the fiscal year of 2016 to 110,000 in 2017. Republican lawmakers, most notably in Texas, have sought to block federal resettlement programs for Syrian refugees. The son of Republican nominee Donald Trump recently compared Syrian refugees to poisoned Skittles on social media.
Richard said she had been “shocked” by the U.S. national conversation this year. “We’ve had pushback on refugees. There has always been an ugly element that believes that the latest wave of newcomers are not to be trusted.” [It is nothing Obama or she did, it is all about you haters!—ed]
She said that there had traditionally been bipartisan support for the U.S. giving refuge to the most persecuted people in the world, as “that is who we are,” but that this is now under threat: “What’s most alarming about the current discourse in American politics is that it’s a departure at the leadership level from defending that.”
I don’t want to leave readers with the idea that Obama did nothing to advance his agenda to diversify America, he did plenty. We are now talking about refugees in the 100,000 range as normal when only a few years earlier, we were resettling about 60,000 on average. Obama also managed to increase the number of Muslim refugees coming in from places where it is impossible to vet them.
Anne Richard was a well-paid VP for one of the federal refugee contractors, the International Rescue Committee. Prior to that she worked for the State Department. It will be interesting to see if she revolves back to a federal contractor job.
As we have said on many previous occasions, who the Trump team nominates for this post will be telling. The job requires approval by the Senate.
***Update*** One of our readers has reported that Ms. Richard is already gone and is now an Adjunct professor at Georgetown Univ. according to LinkedIn:
Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University
- United States
- International Affairs
|Current||Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University|
|Past||Assistant Secretary, Population, Refugees & Migration at U.S. Department of State, Vice President, Government Relations & Advocacy…|
|Education||The University of Chicago, Georgetown University|
|Summary||Specialties: (1) Relief and Development policies of US and other major donor governments (2) Budget and management of US government…|