Refugee Resettlement Watch

Archive for the ‘Refugee Resettlement Program in Maryland’ Category

Maryland Governor O’Malley calls UACs “refugees,” doesn’t know what he is talking about

Posted by Ann Corcoran on September 13, 2014

I’m reporting on what an uninformed governor says only because this governor wants to follow Obama to the White House.  So, all readers across the US, keep track of Martin O’Malley’s positions—he is a leader in the Democrat Party for Open Borders (no borders!) and has facilitated the growth (with tax dollars) of the notorious CASA de Maryland.

O’Malley (left) hoping to be the next O-man in the White House. Rumors abound that Obama doesn’t like O’Malley, but his policies will be the same as Obama’s.

Here is what he said to a Hispanic advocacy group in Washington on Thursday about the Unaccompanied Alien Children.

Maryland has received the largest number per capita of any state we are told.

From Southern Maryland Online:

WASHINGTON (Sept. 11, 2014) — Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, in his keynote address to the Hispanic National Bar Association’s annual conference Thursday morning, called on the association’s members to help in his state’s efforts to provide pro bono representation for the large numbers of unaccompanied minors who’ve crossed the U.S. border this year to escape violence in Central America.

“When unaccompanied children fleeing violence in Central America arrive at our doorstep, it is not only for their good, but for our good and the good of the nation that our children will share with them that our nation should act hospitably and revere the human dignity and the courage that those children have possessed,” he told a crowded ballroom at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington.

O’Malley, who is considering a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, came under fire earlier this year when he openly criticized President Barack Obama’s plan to deport many of the children back to the countries from which they fled.

“We are Americans, and we do not return refugee kids who find themselves on our doorstep back into war-torn or famine-racked places where they will face certain death,” O’Malley told reporters in mid-July. “I think we have to act like Americans.”

Since then, Maryland has accepted 2,804 children, according to the latest figures from the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the largest number of refugees per capita of any state in the country. Each is currently living with family or friends while awaiting deportation hearings.

Nebraska pro-immigration lawyer explains why the “children” are not refugees.

Coincidentally I came across this news item at the same time as the O’Malley disingenuous comment where a pro-immigration lawyer tells the public why the children are not “refugees.” Yet anyway!

Unaccompanied minors from Central Nebraska cannot be granted refugee status because people are classified as being refugees before ever arriving in the United States, Maynes said. That is why Sudanese and Somali immigrants – who actually lived in refugee camps – are legally considered refugees.

She said the question for unaccompanied minors is whether they can be classified as seeking asylum, a designation given to immigrants after they arrive in the U.S. Although in different categories, refugees and asylees must meet at least one of the same criteria to receive those legal designations under U.S. immigration law.

Both refugees and asylees must have a “well-founded fear of persecution” because of their political opinions, religion, nationality, race or for being a member of a protected social group, Maynes said. She said some immigration lawyers are arguing that unaccompanied minors should be part of a protected social group because as children, they are vulnerable to the predations of Central American gangs.

Of course the important point is that the Open Borders advocates and lawyers are working toward turning the “children” into legitimate asylum seekers by stretching the definition of “refugee” and thereby making anyone in the world, claiming to be escaping crime, eligible for entry into America.

Go here for all of our coverage of the ‘unaccompanied minors.’

Posted in Immigration fraud, Obama, Refugee Resettlement Program in Maryland, Taxpayer goodies, The Opposition, Who is going where | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Baltimore: “Sponsor” allegedly sexually abused ‘unaccompanied child’

Posted by Ann Corcoran on August 6, 2014

You know this is just the beginning!

Tennessee state police photo. Would you turn a 16-year-old girl over to this guy? The feds did!

A 42-year-old illegal alien promised the Office of Refugee Resettlement (in Health and Human Services) that he would provide a separate bedroom for a 16-year old girl not related to him—AND THEY BELIEVED HIM!

These people live in la-la land and surely we will see many more such cases of abuse as the Obama border surge continues.

From the Daily Caller (emphasis is mine):

A 42-year-old illegal immigrant from Honduras who was awarded custody of an unrelated 16-year-old Honduran girl has been accused of sexual abuse and of smuggling her into the U.S.

Pedro Lara Portillo is charged with alien smuggling and encouraging an alien to illegally enter the country, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Lara, who told authorities he has been in the U.S. illegally for seven years, also lied to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement when he said that he and the girl would have separate rooms while she lived with him, according to federal court documents.

The girl came to the U.S. in late March and spent a month in the custody of HHS, which turned her over to Lara’s care.

The agency is in charge of finding housing for the tens of thousands of unaccompanied children apprehended at the U.S. border while they await deportation proceedings to commence.

The girl told Baltimore County police in early June that she had been smuggled into the country, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Lara and the girl’s mother coordinated the plan to smuggle her from Honduras through Mexico, and the teen eventually entered the U.S. through Texas.

“Lara admitted in sum and substance that he wired money to Mexico for the purpose of having [the girl] smuggled to the United States,” Department of Homeland Security special agent Edward J. Kelly wrote in the charging documents.

According to the federal documents, Lara and the girl did not have separate rooms, contrary to assurances he made in the custody arrangement with HHS.

The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately arrest Lara after they interviewed him, though he was eventually apprehended in Tennessee.

There is more, keep reading.

All of our coverage of the ‘unaccompanied minors’ border surge may be found by clicking here.

Posted in Changing the way we live, Crimes, diversity's dark side, Immigration fraud, Obama, Refugee Resettlement Program, Refugee Resettlement Program in Maryland, Resettlement cities, women's issues | Tagged: , , | 6 Comments »

Baltimore: Lutheran contractor prays in ritzy neighborhood to demonstrate how Maryland welcomes the illegal children

Posted by Ann Corcoran on July 31, 2014

Yeah sure…

Linda Hartke, CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, led a prayer vigil for the “chiiildruunn” in their own swanky back yard—-the Inner Harbor of Baltimore—yesterday.   The multi-million dollar federal refugee contractor has its headquarters there.

Gee, why weren’t the “faith leaders” parading and praying through Baltimore’s seedy side?

Gotta keep up their real estate holdings! The Lutheran Center (LIRS headquarters) is a six-story structure constructed in 1999 on property owned by Baltimore’s historic Christ Lutheran Church. The building is located near Baltimore’s Inner Harbor in the historic Federal Hill neighborhood, a charming area rich with history and an eclectic array of eateries and shopping venues.

And, of course, the lazy Associated Press (and other major media) never mention a word that Hartke and crew are being paid from the US Treasury to do their community organizing.

Sorry to our long-time readers who have heard my rant for the umpteenth time.

See Lutherans again with Christian charity claptrap!

We are paying for their public relations campaign! 97% of their funding comes from taxpayers while they pretend that what they do is out of the goodness of their Christian hearts!

Hartke is paid over $200,000 a year to do her prayer vigil march!

Here is their latest phony-baloney public relations ploy.  They only had to walk a short distance from their office building (that you help pay for too!).

This is the AP story that we saw in the San Francisco Chronicle (emphasis is mine):

BALTIMORE (AP) — Scores of Baltimore-area religious leaders held an interfaith prayer vigil for unaccompanied children who arrived in Maryland after fleeing violence in their home countries.

Dozens of religious leaders and supporters marched along Baltimore’s Inner Harbor on Wednesday to draw attention to the influx of immigrant children into the United States, and specifically into Maryland and Baltimore. In the first seven months of 2014, 2,205 unaccompanied immigrant children have settled in Maryland. Most of those children have been reunited with family members or placed in the homes of sponsors.


Linda Hartke, president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service and one of the rally’s organizers, said the march and prayer vigil were designed to send a message that the city is welcoming of refugees and immigrants.

So why weren’t they marching in West Baltimore—that would be a real test of how “welcoming” the city might be! Why aren’t these people worthy of the Lutherans’ prayers? They have dreams and aspirations too!

“Today’s gathering is an important sign of support from the people of Baltimore that says this is a city and a state that’s welcoming of refugee kids, of people who flee violence, of people who have dreams and aspirations for their future, for their well-being, and to be reunited with their family members.”

The Lutherans are praying as well for Marylanders to take the “children” into their homes.

Now this next part is such a joke (if this weren’t so serious an issue). 

Governor wannabe-President Martin O’Malley met with “faith leaders” on Monday to plan for the children.

I would bet a buck that every “faith leader” in the meeting was on salary to be there and had a financial interest, as a federal contractor, in the ‘unaccompanied alien children’ coming to the state.  But, surely no reporter even thought to inquire.

The prayer vigil comes just two days after Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley met with religious leaders in the state’s capital to discuss strategies for sheltering the children in Maryland. Catholic Charities [also a federal contractor—ed] has proposed utilizing one of its Timonium facilities that has been used to house children with severe behavioral problems as a shelter for immigrant children. The facility can house 50 children at a time.

All of our coverage of the ‘unaccompanied minors’ border invasion may be found by clicking here.

Do you have a Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) subcontractor near you?  Go here to find out. Note that business is booming under Obama and LIRS is in the process of hiring a second Washington lobbyist, here.

And, as 2016 approaches, just know that Martin O’Malley has done everything he could as governor of Maryland to help the anti-borders activists “welcome” more immigrants of all stripes (legal and illegal) into Maryland.  I guess Maryland’s own poor minority people aren’t cool enough for O’Malley and the “faith leaders.”

Posted in Changing the way we live, Community destabilization, Immigration fraud, Refugee Resettlement Program, Refugee Resettlement Program in Maryland, Resettlement cities, Taxpayer goodies, The Opposition, Who is going where | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

George Soros wants Baltimore to be more “welcoming” towards refugees

Posted by Ann Corcoran on June 5, 2012

I don’t have time to post at RRW today, but I did write about refugees at my other blog—Potomac Tea Party Report.  The post is about Soros’ Open Society Foundation chastising Marylanders about not being “welcoming” toward refugees.  The post is a basic primer for Tea Party readers who don’t follow the daily ins and outs of the refugee industry, but you might find it informative.

Tomorrow an update on the Somali who murdered 4 in North Dakota and a “diversity is strength” pow-wow about Muslim inclusion hosted by the State Department.   And, there is some news on Rohingya too.

Posted in Refugee Resettlement Program, Refugee Resettlement Program in Maryland, Resettlement cities, The Opposition | Comments Off on George Soros wants Baltimore to be more “welcoming” towards refugees

Bhutanese refugees shot in Baltimore, one dead

Posted by Ann Corcoran on August 25, 2011

It was only two days ago we told you that a young Bhutanese (Nepalese) woman is missing in Prince George’s County,* MD when news comes that two refugees were shot in Baltimore and one died (so far).  The article is not accurate on how many Bhutanese have been resettled in the US to date (the number resettled so far in the US is closer to 42,000, here.  Last week the UN celebrated the 50,000th Bhutanese to leave camps for the West).

From the Baltimore Sun:

Two Bhutanese refugees were shot, one of them fatally, in an apparent robbery in Northeast Baltimore, one of two double-shootings investigated by Baltimore police Tuesday night.

Big Bahadur Gurung, 20, had immigrated here from Nepal two months ago, after being given sanctuary following years of persecution in his home country, said Holly Leon-Lierman, the outreach manager for the International Rescue Committee, which helps refugees assimilate.  [He was likely not persecuted in Bhutan or in Nepal because someone as young as Gurung most likely grew up in the camps in Nepal since they have been there for two decades.—ed]

“He came here seeking freedom and safety,” Leon-Lierman said. “These are people who were persecuted for a long time, and it really makes this attack all the more tragic.”

The incident is the latest in a series of crimes that have sparked concern for members of Baltimore’s Nepalese and Bhutanese community, which officials say is centered in Northeast Baltimore’s Frankford neighborhood and has been growing in recent years.

Officers were called to the Parkside Gardens apartments in the 5200 block of Bowleys Lane at 10:12 p.m. for a report of a double shooting, and found two men suffering from gunshot injuries. A 17-year-old male, also an immigrant who arrived here last year, was shot multiple times in the torso and taken to an area hospital in critical condition.

Gurung, of the 4900 block of Gunther Ave., was shot in the chest and was pronounced dead.

Bhutan is a tiny kingdom in South Asia located at the eastern end of the Himalayas. For years, thousands of Bhutanese of Nepali descent have been fleeing the country, alleging ethnic and political repression, and were stranded in Nepalese refugee camps.

In 2007, the United States announced it would offer sanctuary to up to 60,000 refugees, with Ellen Sauerbrey, then the director of the State Department’s refugee division and a former Republican state legislator from Maryland, playing a key role. More than 30,000 refugees have settled in the United States since then, one of the largest refugee groups in recent years, according to news reports. More than 700 have settled in Baltimore.

The Bhutanese are mostly Hindu and a twenty year old like the young man murdered in Baltimore possibly lived his entire life in the security of a United Nations Refugee Camp in Nepal sheltered from the crime that plagues cities like Baltimore.   I’m sure they make an easy target for inner-city thugs.

But like other immigrant populations, they have encountered challenges in their new home. The IRC has been working with police and city officials over concerns about robberies and violence, with advocates and community leaders organizing meetings.

Frances Tinsley, the IRC’s director since April, said the crimes are isolated and there is no evidence that Bhutanese refugees have been targeted, and she said the group’s work is largely proactive.

“Baltimore has been an accepting community, but it is also an urban city and we have to do the best we can to make sure these newcomers feel safe,” Tinsley said.

For new readers, it’s the same old story—resettlement agencies imagine a neighborhood is “welcoming” and place naive newcomers into a multicultural mix that is anything but welcoming (or accepting!).   But, bottom line, it’s all about the bucks—apartments are cheaper—so that’s where these agencies, even rich ones like the IRC, place refugees!

I just typed ‘Bhutanese murdered’ into the search function here at RRW and up came this archive of all the problems the Bhutanese are experiencing—others murdered, one killed by an abortion doctor, inner city beatings, suicides, and the list goes on.

* No word that I’ve seen so far on her whereabouts.

Addendum:  Maryland has resettled a total of 32,986 refugees through 2008 (check out the appendix of the 2008 Annual Report to Congress, here).

Posted in Crimes, diversity's dark side, Other refugees, Refugee Resettlement Program, Refugee Resettlement Program in Maryland, Resettlement cities | 3 Comments »

Head Start and some funny money business makes the news….

Posted by Ann Corcoran on May 28, 2010

….but not too much news.   That theme is the gist of this piece at Big Government by Robert Bluey a couple of days ago.   An undercover investigation has unearthed proof of major scams on-going with the program and Bluey argues that this should be as big news as the ACORN scandal has been.

Arguably, the Head Start scandal deserved front-page headlines on newspapers across America last week. Outrage over ACORN centered on the group’s taxpayer funding. The total amount of federal funds that flowed to ACORN was about $53 million dating to 1994.

Head Start, a Great Society program created in 1965 for low-income children, received $9 billion — yes, billion — in appropriations and stimulus funding last year alone. Over the lifetime of the program, it has cost taxpayers more than $150 billion.

There are more than 3,300 Head Start programs operating in America, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. A government-funded impact study criticized the effectiveness of the program earlier this year. Given the cost of the program and the group of people it primarily serves, Head Start deserves some much-needed scrutiny.

Read the whole Big Government article.

Until a few years ago, I never gave Head Start a second thought and in the back of my mind I assumed it was run from government offices at the state level, but apparently not so.   Again, at least in the case I’m familiar with, it is one of those programs that is run with taxpayer money passed along to unaccountable non-profit groups (I loathe this concept of public-private partnerships!).

What got me thinking about this a few years ago is that the Virginia Council of Churches quietly began resettling refugees in the county where I live (that, by the way, also was the genesis of this blog) and in the course of researching who they were, imagine my surprise, when I learned they were almost completely funded with tax dollars.    The biggest portion of their income comes from Head Start.   See this pie chart from their 2007 annual report.  (Incidentally, this is 2010, what is taking them so long to put up more recent annual reports?).

In 2007, almost 58% of their funding came from Head Start.  And, do you see that 17.5% from Church World Service, that is really your tax dollars passed through from the federal government to Church World Service to Virginia Council of Churches for refugees.    The Episcopal Migration Ministries money is also likely passed through from the Feds.  Add up the other pieces of the pie and it looks to me that only 2% of their income comes from other sources and the church. Readers should know that there is virtually no federal financial auditing of this federal money and since Virginia Council of Churches claims to be a church, they don’t file a Form 990 with the IRS that I have ever  been able to find.

And, this is interesting, they do their lobbying through something called the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy.

On matters related to public policy in Virginia, the Council of Churches works in special cooperation with The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy. Each year, the Council considers the legislative agenda that is developed by the center and upon action of the Coordination Cabinet of the Virginia Council of Churches, endorses and supports the agenda.

I sure hope none of your money (for refugees or Head Start) is passed through to promote “social justice” political causes!

For your serious consideration—-Head Start is grabbing young minds early.  They’ve gotta separate kids from parents, that is the clear agenda of the Far Left!

Posted in Changing the way we live, Refugee Resettlement Program, Refugee Resettlement Program in Maryland | Comments Off on Head Start and some funny money business makes the news….

Iraqis are largest group of refugees coming to Maryland right now

Posted by Ann Corcoran on May 5, 2010

This is your standard refugee news story, but I’m posting it so I have some statistics for our home state of Maryland.  And, because we rarely hear any refugee news from Maryland!

From Southern Maryland OnLine:

Although Iraqis make up only 2.5 percent of refugees and asylum-seekers in Maryland, in the past decade, Iraqi refugee resettlement in Maryland has gone from almost non-existent to leading other countries in the number of refugees entering the state.

From 2000 to 2007, there was an average of 19 new Iraqi refugees a year resettling in Maryland — .15 percent of all new arrivals in that time period.

In 2007, 1.9 percent of new Maryland refugees and asylees were Iraqi. By 2009, Iraqis made up one in six new refugees, or 16.8 percent, the largest group of new refugees from 45 countries, according to a database maintained by the Maryland Office of Refugees and Asylees.


From 1990 to 2006, more than 33,000 Iraqis were resettled across the nation, according to the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement. To date, about 1,000 Iraqis have resettled in Maryland.

Maryland’s  number of Iraqis is still a drop in the bucket compared to the top 6 states that resettle Iraqis.  California gets almost 20% with Michigan second with approximately 13-15%.  We have previously written about problems of the system being overwhelmed by Iraqis in both California and Michigan.  The others in the top 6 states resettling Iraqis are Texas, Illinois, Arizona and Virginia.

Maryland’s funding from the feds has more than tripled in recent years according to the Maryland Office of Refugees and Asylees.

In fiscal 2007, Maryland received about $2.5 million in cash and medical assistance funds from the Office of Refugee Resettlement. In fiscal 2008, the funds doubled to $5.3 million.

Most of MORA’s fiscal 2011 $8.1 million budget will be spent on refugee services and cash assistance.

Incidentally we haven’t heard of any Iraqis wanting to go back to the Middle East from Maryland as we did in Virginia last year, here.

Posted in Iraqi refugees, Refugee Resettlement Program, Refugee Resettlement Program in Maryland, Resettlement cities | Comments Off on Iraqis are largest group of refugees coming to Maryland right now

Second anniversary of Hagerstown public meeting on refugees

Posted by Ann Corcoran on September 19, 2009

Two years ago today a public meeting on refugees was held in our county seat, Hagerstown, MD.  We actually have a whole category for posts about it entitled September forum here (you may also need to use our search function for ‘Hagerstown’ to get the full story).    It was the culmination, as it turned out, of about a year of political turmoil about refugees brought to Hagerstown.   I’ve been thinking about that meeting recently as I prepare to give a talk about it at an upcoming meeting in Washington.

I’m not going to rehash the story except to say that the Virginia Council of Churches (VCC)  had quietly begun resettling refugees in our rural county, and our local political leaders had no clue about what was going on.  Some of us were initially open-minded, but wanted to understand how the program worked.  How was it that a non-profit group (from another state!) could just decide to add more poverty to the poverty we already had?  Who was going to take care of the refugees?  Where would they work?  Would the cost of adding to the schools fall on the county (unfunded mandates issue)?  Those were the sorts of questions we wanted to have answered.  So we supported the idea of holding a public meeting so that officials from Washington, the state of Maryland and the non-profit groups could explain it all.

The public meeting happened on September 19th, 2007.  The US State Department sent two women who run the program in DC, the Maryland office that handles refugee issues participated as did Church World Service (one of the top ten government contractors) as well as its subcontractor Virginia Council of Churches—a group almost entirely funded with tax dollars.  A couple hundred residents of Washington County attended.

You can read all about what happened in the posts in the September forum category, but the gist of what happened is that many of us felt we did not hear straight answers and the worst part was that the citizens were treated to a condescending tone from several speakers who felt the need to waste time and remind us that we were all immigrants once.   The sort of questions I wanted answered are listed in this post.  These questions were ones I wanted our local paper, the Herald Mail, to answer for the public.  They didn’t, so we have been writing this blog ever since.

The refugee resettlement program of the US State Department needs to be reformed.  We will just keep hammering away until it is.  I’m not saying there is corruption in the program as deep and profound as the one now being exposed with ACORN, but I believe very strongly that when non-profit groups continue to reach into the pockets of taxpayers there is a very real possibility that waste, fraud and abuse (abuse possibly even of the refugees themselves) is going to happen. 

I encourage all of you in communities receiving refugees or about to receive refugees to do research, ask questions and demand a public meeting so that officials can inform everyone of what is happening to your community.  If it’s a good program it will stand up to public scrutiny!

So, what happened in Hagerstown after that public meeting where many citizens went away even more annoyed?  Ten days later the announcement was made that the Virginia Council of Churches would be returning to Virginia and more refugees would not be brought to Hagerstown.  Their parting shot to our city was that we were “unwelcoming.”    But, there was a lot more to the story and it’s my contention that the State Department and Church World Service were unhappy with how VCC didn’t take very good care of the refugees they brought to Hagerstown in the first place and that they had royally screwed up the public relations aspect of the program.

Again, the moral of the story is, if refugee resettlement is good for your town or city those promoting it must tell the public ALL THE FACTS and then let the citizens decide, afterall that is how good government is supposed to work!

Posted in Reforms needed, Refugee Resettlement Program, Refugee Resettlement Program in Maryland | Comments Off on Second anniversary of Hagerstown public meeting on refugees

Johns Hopkins forum sought to explain refugee resettlement program

Posted by Ann Corcoran on December 14, 2008

This is old news, it happened in November, but as I said before I have piles of backed-up refugee stories to mention.

A forum and panel discussion was held at Johns Hopkins Univ. to explain the refugee program and how it’s going in Baltimore, MD.   There is lots of information about the history of refugees arriving in Baltimore, and there is the usual whinefest about not enough money to run the program properly.

The IRC (International Rescue Committee) has been resettling refugees in Baltimore since 1999. In fiscal year 2008 they resettled 480 refugees and 140 asylees, with the majority coming from Nepal, Myanmar and Iraq and various African nations.

The IRC sees Baltimore as a good city to resettle refugees to because the costs of living are lower than many other eastern cities. It is also fitted with accessible public transportation. Refugees also serve to further culturally enrich an already diverse city.

Martin Ford of the Maryland Office for New Americans said that resettlement agencies are under a great deal of pressure to provide comprehensive resettlement services with limited resources.

Limited resources!   Readers should know that the International Rescue Committee is an approximately $200 million a year operation.  In 2005 (No more recent financial documents would open) the organization received $88 million in taxpayer funding.  So when they say that they put up thousands for each refugee family, know that a large portion of that comes from you!

This (IRC responsibility)  includes paying for rent and utilities during their fist months here, as well as helping them secure employment. However, these grants total only $850 per refugee. Fikremariam (Worku Fikremariam, resettlement program manager for the International Rescue Committee in Baltimore) estimated that his agency spends $3,000 to $4,000 per refugee family in the first few months they are in the country.

Half of the $850 stays with the volag (IRC here) in addition to many other grants the IRC receives from various federal and state agencies.   Again, the $3000 to $4000 is not all THEIR money, but largely your money.

Iraqi refugees are not happy campers!

A substantial portion of this article was taken up with a discussion of the unhappy and often unemployed Iraqi refugees who have been coming to the US at an increased rate in recent months.  See our Iraqi refugee category for an abundance of unhappy Iraqi stories.

One Iraqi asylee*, who asked to remain anonymous because he has many relatives still living in Iraq, estimated that he had already spent one year and several thousand dollars studying for recertification as a physician here. He held a high position in the government after the American invasion and supervised 10 Ph.D. candidates in their dissertation research. He estimated that he would not be properly certified to find a job in his field here until 2010. Until then he has found a part-time job as a translator.

Many recently arrived Iraqis have not been so lucky. This asylee recounted that prior to leaving Iraq many refugees did not realize that they would not be able to apply the same skills and knowledge in their new location. He said that a resettlement agency tried to place another refugee who had been a doctor in Iraq in a low skill job.

“They asked him if he wanted to have a job like wiping the floor or washing dishes. This is impossible for our people, a lot of them prefer to go back home and be killed there than do those jobs here; it is like a stigma,” he said.

Where is the unrealisitic expectation coming from?   We have heard on several previous occasions that the agency processing refugees overseas has not been doing a good job of sitting prospective refugees down and explaining the cold hard facts about our economic situation.

The Iraqi asylee said that many recently arrived Iraqis feel frustrated by their lack of success in securing suitable jobs. He contended that this is a result of the pre-departure orientation, which is received by Iraqis coming to the U.S. under the special immigrant visa created by Congress this year.

The rosy picture of America needs to go away, says IRC spokesman.

Sometimes they have to go through that for reality to hit and the rosy picture of America to go away,” Fikremariam said.”[In such situations] depression sets in, they are in an existential vacuum. ‘Who am I, why I am I here?’

Good question!

* Asylees are given the same benefits as refugees, the difference is that they got to the US on their own steam and then sought asylum.  We bring refugees to the US and pay their airfare.  By the way, this is another way agencies like the IRC make money, they act as collection agents to recover the taxpayer funded airfare and then get to keep a cut for their work with only a portion going back to the federal treasury.

Posted in Iraqi refugees, Refugee Resettlement Program in Maryland | 7 Comments »

Puff piece on Virginia Council of Churches refugee program needs some balance

Posted by Ann Corcoran on August 2, 2008

Yesterday I told you what a great year we have had at Refugee Resettlement Watch—over 100,000 visitors to this site to learn more about the refugee program in the US.  You have the Virginia Council of Churches (VCC) to thank for that!    I have been meaning to write about them anyway because this time last year we were having a heated public discussion about VCC in Hagerstown, MD (all recorded in the category ‘September Forum’)  Now, I can use this article from Harrisonburg, VA to remind long-time readers and to tell new readers how we got here.

A year and a half ago Judy and I knew nothing about the Refugee Resettlement Program of the US State Department, until that is, we started reading about problems refugees were having in Hagerstown (MARYLAND), our county seat.   The case that got the public’s attention first involved a sick African woman who sent a child out on the street to find help which was followed by a series of miscommunications that could have been resolved quickly if someone knew how to reach the VIRGINIA Council of Churches.  To fire and rescue it was a mystery  how this African woman came to be in the worst neighborhood in the city.   As a result of the language barrier the incident blew up into a Hazmat situation because medical personel thought the woman (and others in the building) might have some dangerous communicable disease.

Shortly after the incident, Virginia Council of Churches asked our county government for $15,000 for their program—now people wanted to know how this Virginia “church” could be bringing what turned out to be hundreds of refugees to our county without any local say in the matter.

I asked a reporter at our local paper to find out and tell us all how the Refugee program worked.  The Hagerstown Herald mail refused and here we are telling you for over a year now how the refugee program works and attempting to balance the news coverage of the program—like this article from Harrisonburg.   We believe each community should know the whole story about how refugee resettlement will effect one’s community, we think the coverage has been way too one-sided (everything is just lovely everywhere).   I believe that if people are given all the facts, a government program can then be weighed fairly in a city or town.  It was very clear to us that facts were being withheld in order to sell the refugee program to Hagerstown. 

We also hope that by bringing the facts to you, this program will ultimately be reformed! 

To make what is now turning into a long story short, we ultimately had a public meeting (the September Forum) so that federal and state officials, Church World Service and VCC could tell the citizens the facts.  I had high hopes for a better understanding through this meeting.   The meeting was contentious with citizens once again feeling that they weren’t hearing the full story.  A week or so later it was announced that the Virginia Council of Churches was leaving town (State Department pulled the financial plug through its contractor, Church World Service), and we, and Hagerstown were labelled “unwelcoming”.  Really what happened is that the VCC had done such a lousy job caring for refugees and working with the general public that they were sent back to Virginia with their parting “unwelcoming” shot at Hagerstown.

Now to the Harrisonburg article:

Refugee Resettlement functions as an arm of the Virginia Council of Churches, a network of 37 churches spanning 22 denominations in Virginia. The Harrisonburg Refugee Resettlement office helps refugees get resettled in a geographical area from Winchester to Roanoke.

I guess this (above) means that their region has shrunk (no longer jumping across state lines), and note the implication is that the churches are doing the resettling.  As for Roanoke, no mention of the BIG problems there between the black American population and the Somalis that these government contractors have resettled in their midst.

According to its Web site, the Council formed the Refugee Resettlement Program in 1962 in response to a large number of Cuban exiles entering the United States. Nationally, the program admitted 70,000 refugees a year until 2001, Sokolyuk said, when the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 resulted in tighter security measures for refugees.

After 2001, the State Department reduced the number of refugees allowed in the country annually to 29,000, Sokolyuk said.

Lately, said Sokolyuk, the State Department has relaxed such restrictions.

Doesn’t Mr. Sokolyuk know that the ceiling for FY 08 is 80,000 refugees to be admitted to the US and the number could go higher if special legislation mandating more Iraqis is successful?

After receiving 50 refugees a year from 2002 to 2007, the Harrisonburg Refugee Resettlement already has processed applications for 123 people this year, said Sokolyuk.

The Virginia Council of Churches budgets $1.3 million a year for its three Refugee Resettlement offices to process refugees, said Sokolyuk. Each office receives its share of the budget based on the number of refugees it processed the previous year.

Since VCC is now getting 123 refugees their ‘time out’ inflicted by the State Department must be over.  No mention here that almost all of VCC’s budget is from the coffers of the US taxpayer through the primary government contractor Church World Service.  Last year a representative of VCC said 90% of their budget comes from government.  Of course, one can’t confirm that because they have filed as a “church” with the IRS and are not required to file a Form 990 that other non-profits are required to file.

Sokolyuk is quick to point out that the general public often confuses the terms “refugee” and “immigrant.” There is a huge difference between the two: Refugees leave their native lands with more urgency than do immigrants, who have more time to plan.

“With refugees, the body goes first, and the mind follows,” said Sokolyuk. “With immigrants, the mind goes first, and the body follows.”

What the heck does that mean?   You see—this is why we started this blog.   Instead of complete straightforward information you get this B.S. —-“the body goes first and the mind follows.”    The major difference between other legal immigrants and refugees is that refugees (and asylees) must show that they are persecuted or have a reasonable fear of persecution because of such things as religion, race, nationality, a particular social group or political opinion.  Other immigrants seek visas for various reasons and bascially wait in line.

The other huge difference is that refugees receive travel loans (loans from the federal government) to get here, they get help(?) from groups like VCC, they get apartment subsidies, medical exams, ESL lessons, food stamps, SSI, etc. etc.   And of course that is why there are so many people in the world trying to figure out how to be refugees.

On the travel loans, go to the article and see the comment by Chris Coen of Friends of Refugees and see how that works.  VCC gets a cut of any loan it can collect from refugees.  We were told by sources that refugees in Hagerstown could barely speak English and were getting dunning letters from VCC and didn’t understand what that was all about and were frightened by the letters.

This next part, about finding individual church sponsors, is absolutely not true:

First, refugees contact the United Nations, which refers applicants to the State Department. Such volunteer groups as Church World Service and Episcopal Immigration Ministries review applications and contact localities throughout the U.S., seeking churches or other organizations willing to sponsor refugees.

Batches of sometimes hundreds of refugees are sent to a “welcoming” city where a volag (supposedly voluntary agency, but paid by you) is supposed to resettle the refugees.  Here in Hagerstown they had maybe 3 churches and a mosque and resettled over 200.  The reason so much went wrong is that they didn’t have individual churches taking individual families and the few churches and the mosque ultimately threw up their hands because volunteer church members were completely overwhelmed by the numbers.    In other cities, Waterbury, CT comes to mind, the volags actually discouraged individual church volunteers and screwed up so badly the program was halted there too.

One of the reforms we advocate is that we should go back to the old system where individual churches would use their own private charity to sponsor a family and acclimate them to America—the present system of paying groups to resettle masses of people is not working!  This blog is filled with stories of waste and abuse by volags.

Sorry this post got way long, congratulations to readers who got this far!

Posted in Refugee Resettlement Program, Refugee Resettlement Program in Maryland, Resettlement cities, September Forum | 3 Comments »


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