Refugee Resettlement Watch

Here is what the ‘Refugee Act of 1980’ says the Prez and Congress must do right now…

Posted by Ann Corcoran on September 2, 2017

It is the beginning of September and the new fiscal year begins on October 1.  That would be FY18.

The President will submit his ‘determination’ letter and report to Congress about how many refugees COULD BE admitted for FY18 and designates where in the world they would come from.

congress

You and I might not want Congress involved in consulting on the number of refugees to be admitted in FY18, but the original law does give them a role (besides funding) whether they like it or not. And, it is time the Republican leadership goes on record about how many refugees they want!

The Refugee Act of 1980 is here.  Note that in the first three years after passage the number was limited to 50,000 unless the President determined there was an emergency requiring a higher number.

As far as I can tell, other than the first 3 years, the law is silent on numbers less than 50,000.  That means to me that the President could come in anywhere under that and be within the law!

I’ve been arguing that, in light of the Supreme Court having tied the law in knots, the program should be suspended right now until there is clarity from the Supremes, and I think the President could easily make the argument for suspension.

(Add the enormous number of hurricane Harvey refugees to the discussion!)

But, if Trump is going ahead with a ‘determination’ now, he must be pretty close to completing the plan because the law requires Congressional hearings after ‘consultation’ and two weeks in advance of making a ‘final determination’.  As far as I know (or at least for the last 10 years) the law has not been followed and the President sends a ‘determination’ to the Hill literally with only days to spare before October 1.

See my report in 2015 when I learned that TWO DECADES ago, a House report cited former Democrat Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman (who was involved with the drafting of the original act) about the ‘determination’ process and how she argued that Congress must have a role.  You and I might not want the wimps in Congress involved, but frankly that is what the law says!

Here are some screenshots of the pertinent sections of law describing the process. In order to meet the time requirements presumably the Administration and Congress are well underway:

CONSULTATION with the House and Senate Judiciary Committees is required!

 

Screenshot (802)

 

‘Consultation’ with Congress is supposed to happen prior to the President sending a final ‘determination’! The substance of the ‘consultation’ is supposed to be (shall be!) PUBLISHED IN THE CONGRESSIONAL RECORD.

Jeff Sessions serious

In 2015, then Senator Jeff Sessions held the first hearing I had seen in nearly 10 years on the Refugee Act of 1980 and how it was being administered.

Have the Cabinet-level representatives of the Prez been up to the Hill?

If so, where is the report in the Congressional Record?

But, most importantly, reread the section above.  Before the President makes his final ‘determination’ a hearing “shall be held” in the House and Senate Judiciary Committees!

 

Where is the hearing? Has it been scheduled?

Up until 2 years ago, Congress did not hold hearings on the Act at all (too lazy, or too chicken?).  Senator Jeff Sessions held an oversight hearing here on October 2nd (one could not count it as a required hearing for ‘consultation’ since the fiscal year had already begun.)

Consultation defined….

Screenshot (803)

Screenshot (804)

As I read this, the report to Congress must have already gone to the Hill in advance of the in person ‘consultation’.  Has it?  (Here is last year’s report if you haven’t seen one.)

Timeline (as I read it) described in original Refugee Act (possibly law was changed over the years?  Some Hill lawyer can correct me if it has!):

~Report to Congress (like this one) two weeks in advance of ‘consultation’ with House/Senate.

~In person discussion (‘consultation’) between House/Senate Judiciary Committees and Cabinet-level reps of the President.

~Results of ‘consultation’ reported in Congressional Record.

~Hearings to be held in the House and Senate “to review the proposed determination.”

~Final ‘determination’ made by President.

So, it is September 2nd, they all better get cracking if they expect to follow the law (for a change) and begin ‘welcoming’ a new batch of third worlders on October 1 (a mere 29 days from today).

By the way, I think the State Department has a report done (or nearly so) or else we wouldn’t have learned that Charleston, WV was not going to get its new resettlement office.

This post is filed in my ‘where to find information’ category, click here.

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