And, what more can President Donald Trump do?
If today is the first day you ever began to try to understand the UN/US Refugee Admissions Program, I’m going to walk you through from where we are.
Presumably you are here because you heard that President Donald Trump announced a 120-day moratorium on the USRAP beginning next Thursday (March 16th). And, let’s assume that activist groups will be unable to stop it in the courts, see here.
LOL! This is going to be long! Serious students of the USRAP, continue reading…..
We will start our timeline by explaining that planning for the upcoming fiscal year (FY2018) is happening now over the next few months and culminates in September….
In September, the President submits a “determination” to Congress with the number of refugees that could be admitted (and regions from which they will come) in the upcoming fiscal year. Right now we are in FY2017 which began on October 1, 2016 and runs to September 30, 2017. The number he chooses is a CEILING, it is not a target!
President Obama in his last months in office set the CEILING at 110,000 for the year FY2017 (most of a year in which he would not be in office). It grates me to see stories like this from a Nebraska newspaper that says Trump is bringing in less than half of what Obama brought in! Obama had never set a CEILING that high in his previous seven years! In his highest year (2016) he brought in just short of 85,000.
Congress’ only role is to “consult.” I have followed the USRAP since 2007 and up until 2 years ago, I was not aware of any interest by Congress (House or Senate) to do anything. Perhaps there was “consultation” behind the scenes. Early on I asked my Congressman to help me attend a “consultation,” but I was told the public could not attend. I suspected it was because there was nothing much to attend!
The “determination” is sent to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees and someone from the US State Department goes to The Hill with the letter and report prepared by the Department of State (you can see last year’s here).
The Refugee Act of 1980 does mention Congressional hearings on the “determination,” and to his credit, Senator Jeff Sessions held two very good hearings in 2015 and 2016.
I shouldn’t have said “only role” for Congress is consultation because they do hold the ultimate card—funding! The USRAP could be seriously curtailed through the Appropriations process (something I have discussed at length in my tag ‘Where is Congress‘). Trump could control the program through his budget too!
And, I am going to argue below that Congress, if it had the guts, could reform the whole program.
Department of State Public hearings were a sham!
In preparation for the ‘determination,’ the US Department of State holds (held!) a ‘hearing’ of sorts to supposedly gather information from interested parties about how many and which ethnic groups we should admit in the upcoming fiscal year. That ‘hearing’ happens (happened!) usually in May.
However, during my years, I’ve watched what was a stacked hearing (dominated by refugee resettlement contractors) to begin with become a nothing-hearing by last year.
The first year I attended the meeting/hearing was fairly large—maybe 100 people in a room in Northern Virginia. It was a parade of those who were being paid to resettle refugees before a panel that included bureaucrats from the Dept. of State, ORR (in Health and Human Services) and USCIS. They all asked for more refugees and more ethnic groups (notably the Rohingya of Burma/Bangladesh).
After that year, readers of RRW began sending in testimony and more of us with concerns who lived locally attended, until 2014 when the meeting was tiny, held in the US State Dept. with security screening, and was dominated by those of us with problems with the program. Most of the contractors mailed in their testimony!
Here is the testimony I sent (or delivered in person) each year.
They thumbed their noses at the citizens with concerns!
And, finally, in 2015 there was no public hearing at all! Why? I am sure it is because they didn’t like what they were hearing! They only took written testimony that was not available to the public!
Here is what I said last May:
If you would like to see what some of your fellow critics of the program said in the past, go here, here and here (when you click each of these, scroll down for all the posts in the category). These are our archives for any discussion of hearing years 2012 (for FY13), 2013 (for FY14), and 2014 (for FY15). The only reason we obtained any of that testimony is that some of you sent it to us and we attended the hearings in person and were given the testimony.
That testimony is not made public because secrecy has always been the watchword of the program!
I doubt that any Member of Congress or Senator has ever attempted to make that testimony public and I’d bet a million bucks (if I had it!) that no Members/Senators have ever asked for that testimony! Shameful!
Hold field hearings!
If Donald Trump’s Administration is serious about reforming the USRAP (and not just temporarily reducing the numbers), his DOS should hold field hearings in refugee overloaded cities!
Any Member of Congress or US Senator could do the same! (I can help guide anyone who wants to hold such hearings to the troubled communities.)
Right now Secretary of State Rex Tillerson must depend on career State Department officials like Henshaw who we presume likes the USRAP the way it had operated for decades.
Right now you can assume that any planning for FY18 is being done by career bureaucrats and an acting Asst. Secretary of State (Henshaw here). The Trump team has apparently not selected an Asst. Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, an appointment that requires Senate approval.
Of course right now, I suspect the careers are all in disarray and figuring out how to get the last refugees in to the US before the moratorium that begins on the 16th.
This morning we are at 37,425 admitted so far (again Trump’s CEILING is 50,000). Trump has no legal obligation to reach the CEILING.
Will there be hearings in May? Who knows!
Planning for the annual determination (for FY18) will begin in your local community (but you won’t know it!) soon.
The local subcontractors (of the nine major contractors) will, in late spring/early summer, be preparing those very secretive documents called R & P Abstracts. To learn what they are click here for our complete archive on ABSTRACTS.
Those documents list what refugees your community could support (numbers and ethnic groups). It will give the amenities your town has available—medical care, housing, jobs, education system, etc—for refugees! It is a document we maintain should be available to you—local taxpayers—BEFORE it goes to Washington!
The R & P Abstracts go to the US State Department and are used to determine how much money will be spent for refugees and will be used to make the President’s “determination” to be sent to Congress in September.
The bureaucrats of the refugee industry at the DOS and the ORR will tell the Trump people that there is public input, that they hold quarterly “stakeholder” meetings, and the Trump people will not know what a sham this is.
They will trot out their ‘stakeholder’ meetings as an example (here is one post on those) of how transparent they are with the communities they are targeting. But, you need to know that unless you are watching closely and demanding public admission to those meetings, they are dominated by the subcontractors (list here), and various branches of local government. Elected officials who oppose more resettlement will be excluded. And, taxpaying citizens in most places are not considered ‘stakeholders’ and have no role in the preparation of the planning documents.
Back to the 120-day Moratorium which puts us into mid-July, leaving only half of July, August and September to reach the 50,000 CEILING.
This is what John Podesta’s Center for American Progress was tweeting out yesterday to show why the USRAP might in fact be dead for the entire fiscal year.
Again, today we are already at 37,425.
Depending on who is chosen for Asst. Sec. for PRM and for the Director of the ORR (in Health and Human Services), they may or may not be able to gear-up for a huge number of refugees because the process abroad is pretty time-consuming.
The contractors’ fears (and the Open Border advocates like CAP at left) are that the flow cannot get moving with only 2 and 1/2 months left in the fiscal year.
If you have made it this far through this long post, the point I am getting to is this: What will Donald Trump do for FY2018 which is rapidly approaching?
He can set the CEILING low (we don’t consider 50,000 low! See here.). He can make regulatory changes to make the program more transparent and involve state and local governments in the process.
But, will he pressure Congress to reform the law because only changing the law will assure that in 4 or 8 years we don’t go back to the same old flawed system!
Pens and phones only last so long as the particular President is in power! If the USRAP is not reformed legislatively (I would get rid of the whole VOLAG system of paid refugee contractors) then there is no real reform.
Right now, during a Trump presidency, is the only opportunity we will probably ever have to rein-in and reform the out-of-control Refugee Admissions Program. By 2018 everyone will be looking to the next election and nothing will get done!
Endnote: If you missed it, see my post yesterday where I suggested that if you live in a state where state legislators are having problems with the program, you must convince them to call Sec. of State Tillerson and ask to meet him and tell him the problems at the state level!
They should go in with one message: Yes, do as much regulatory reform as possible, but Trump must pressure Congress to repeal and re-write the law (assuming some refugee program will be needed).