And, I think the refugee industry wants to keep it that way! (Think about the enormous stonewalling going on in St. Cloud for instance!).
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.”
Opinion from The Salt Lake Tribune:
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!