How many times over the years have I struggled to try to answer your questions about how much all of this is costing state and federal taxpayers? Now, I have a better understanding of why the facts are so elusive thanks to some researchers who sound like they do want to resettle refugees, but want answers too!
Before you read know that “service providers” is the polite word for resettlement “contractors.”
Resettling refugees has become harder to justify, but not for the reasons you may expect. Lost in the passionate rhetoric of lobbyists, politicians and humanitarian agencies are statistics and evidence.
Appeals to forestall resettlement efforts speak to fears of terrorists infiltrating refugee flows, notwithstanding evidence that suggests otherwise. Advocates of resettlement reference duty, morality and hospitality, but don’t provide compelling evidence to justify the financial and social strains resettlement places on host communities.
Proponents on both sides struggle to support their reasoning with evidence, and this is the real issue. The absence of consistent data collection and measurement by service providers and government agencies has impaired policy makers’ ability to craft effective policy. Furthermore, resettlement data is full of holes and redundancies because service delivery agencies do not coordinate their data collection efforts. Additionally, service providers are unable to answer basic questions about the effectiveness of their programs and current resettlement trends because their data are not structured in an analyzable format.
Standardizing refugee resettlement data collection could revolutionize the resettlement process. It would facilitate analysis, enabling service providers and those interested in refugee statistics to more easily understand what is happening in real time. This information would also enable service providers to better serve refugee communities and educate policymakers on current trends, potential issues and policy gaps.
Without meaningful data standards, agencies and organizations may struggle to evaluate their work and share information. Because funding is typically tied to defined performance or outcome measures, evaluation is a crucial element of program design. The absence of data standards makes evaluation problematic and makes comparisons across programs nearly impossible. The University of Utah’s Center for Research on Migration and Refugee Integration’s recently attempted to evaluate Catholic Community Services’ refugee case management program but was stymied before it even began because the case data were not collected in an analysis-friendly format; moreover, it is impossible to track refugee outcomes as individuals pass from one agency’s stewardship to another’s. Service providers and policymakers across the country face similar challenges.
Data standardization can only happen if the United States’ Office of Refugee Resettlement takes the lead on this issue.Access to federal funding is already conditional on reporting to the office. The simple solution is this: tie federal funds to data standardization and formatting.
So why isn’t it being done?—surely reform doesn’t require the lazy lunks in Congress. ORR can require this before it throws more of your money at the US Refugee contractors. So why aren’t they doing it? I think I have a guess!
If you didn’t know, the Friends (aka Quakers) are very pro-more-immigration. They are involved in defending the Palestinians in the Middle East as well (story for another day).
Newsfrom the Friends Committee on National Legislation. I’m sure you might have guessed if your member of Congress was on the letter, but we are grateful to the ‘Friends’ for listing them for us.
In response to the Trump administration’s announcement of a historically low refugee admissions goal for 2018, over 100 members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to the White House calling on the administration to increase the refugee admissions goal from 45,000 to 110,000. Additionally, this letter expresses concern over a proposed “assimilation standard” for refugees.
FCNL Legislative Director for Human Rights and Civil Liberties Yasmine Taeb made the following statement….
The letter to the president can be found below. [I did not count the signatures, they said 100.—ed]
Dear President Trump,
We write to express our deep disappointment in your decision to set the Presidential Determination (PD) for Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2018 at 45,000. We strongly urge you to reconsider this decision and increase the refugee admission level to 110,000 for Fiscal Year 2018. Further, we are alarmed by proposed changes to the resettlement process to require refugees to meet an assimilation standard and ask you brief us at least 30 days before any such changes are made.
As you know, the world is in the midst of the largest refugee crisis in history. An unprecedented 65.6 million people across the globe have been forcibly displaced from their homes because of violence, persecution, and war. Approximately 22.5 million of those individuals are refugees, and more than half are children. The U.S. has a moral imperative to welcome refugees, who are the most thoroughly vetted people who enter our country. America taking a leadership role during this crisis bolsters our credibility as a nation of immigrants founded on the promise to welcome those seeking a better life.
As both Republican and Democratic administrations have confirmed, the United States screens refugees more stringently than any other traveler allowed to enter the United States. The U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) has safely and successfully resettled more than three million refugees from around the world to American communities across the country since 1975. Refugee applicants must undergo a robust and thorough screening process that takes roughly two years and involves our nation’s top security and counter-terror experts. The exhaustive vetting process includes checking fingerprints and other biometric data against terrorist and criminal databases and multiple interviews through multiple Federal agencies.
Since the enactment of the 1980 Refugee Act, the average annual goal for refugee admissions has been 95,000. In Fiscal Year 2016, the U.S. resettled approximately 85,000 refugees, and the Presidential Determination for Fiscal Year 2017 was 110,000. During the worst refugee crisis in the world, these resettlement numbers pale in comparison to the support our allies are providing and our moral leadership commands. Since Executive Order 13769 was signed, the number of refugees coming to the United States each month has dropped precipitously. Australia, Norway, Canada, Sweden, and Finland all accept more refugees per capita than the United States, with Canada pledging to accept 300,000 refugees in 2017. Failing to do our part to alleviate this global crisis undermines our leadership, diplomacy, and national security.
In addition to the U.S.’s moral responsibility, supporting our allies and partners, whose resources are being strained by hosting large numbers of refugees, promotes security and stability at home and abroad. Twenty national security leaders, including Henry Kissinger, Michael Chertoff, Madeleine Albright, and Leon Panetta wrote a letter in 2015 noting that “resettlement initiatives help advance U.S. national security interests by supporting the stability of our allies and partners that are struggling to host large numbers of refugees.” By doing more to host and assist refugees, the United States would help safeguard the stability of nations like Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey, which are hosting the vast majority of Syrian refugees. This can help reduce regional instability and potential for conflict and terrorism. Additionally, severely limiting the number of refugees the U.S. admits perpetuates extremist organizations’ false narrative of a war between Islam and the West.
In order to make clear that the United States rejects this worldview, we must bolster our refugee program by supporting the world’s most vulnerable people, without discriminating based on religion or nationality. As a nation of immigrants, our country has a long history of welcoming newcomers of all different backgrounds. Any efforts to require refugees meet an assimilation standard misunderstands the purpose of our resettlement program which is to assist the most vulnerable. This is especially true if no additional assistance is provided to ensure refugees are successfully integrated into the fabric of our nation.
The 45,000 PD for Fiscal Year 2018 is woefully insufficient when compared to the millions of people who have been forced to flee their home countries. Establishing a PD of 45,000 is the lowest refugee admissions goal in our nation’s history. This would prevent tens of thousands of people from enriching American communities while seeking safety, protection, and an opportunity to provide a better future for themselves and their families in the United States.
The current global humanitarian crisis requires strong American leadership. To reflect that, we request that you reconsider and increase the PD for refugee admissions level to 110,000 for Fiscal Year 2018. Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to working together with you and your Administration on this critical issue.
Eddie Bernice Johnson
Donald S. Beyer, Jr.
Lisa Blunt Rochester
Robert A. Brady
David N. Cicilline
Yvette D. Clarke
John Conyers, Jr.
J. Luis Correa
Elijah E. Cummings
Danny K. Davis
John K. Delaney (My rep who has announced he is running for Prez in 2020!)
Eliot L. Engel
Anna G. Eshoo
Elizabeth H. Esty
Luis V. Gutiérrez
Alcee L. Hastings
Eleanor Holmes Norton
William R. Keating
Robin L. Kelly
Joseph P. Kennedy
Daniel T. Kildee
John B. Larson
Brenda L. Lawrence
Ted W. Lieu
Carolyn B. Maloney
James P. McGovern
Frank Pallone, Jr.
Bill Pascrell, Jr.
Donald Payne, Jr.
Ben Ray Lujan
Bradley S. Schneider
Robert C. “Bobby” Scott
José E. Serrano
Norma J. Torres
Peter J. Visclosky
Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Bonnie Watson Coleman
Looking for something to do today? If your representative is on the list, tell him or her what you think of the 110,000 refugee wish list.
It doesn’t matter if they don’t listen to you, do it anyway. They need to know that signing a letter like this is not a political freebie!
If you have no rep. on the list, call or write to Delaney!