Refugee Resettlement Watch

Archive for the ‘Testimony for 5/1/2012 State Dept. meeting’ Category

State Department announces comment period for FY2017 Refugee admissions

Posted by Ann Corcoran on April 23, 2016

This is the official launch of the preparations underway for the Obama Administration’s last Refugee Admissions plan to be sent to Congress in September of this year.  Obama has already signaled that he wants 100,000 refugees seeded into your towns in FY2017.

Each year at this time, the US State Department takes testimony from the public on how many refugees (and from where) that you, the taxpaying public, thinks we should admit.  From past experience, we know, of course, that your testimony goes down a black hole!

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration Affairs Anne Richard arrives for a press conference at a hotel in Putrajaya, Malaysia Monday, June 1, 2015. Richard said resettlement in a third country is not the answer to the swelling tide of boat people in Southeast Asia and called for Myanmar citizenship to be given to Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution there. (AP Photo/Joshua Paul)

Address your testimony to: U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration Anne C. Richard

For probably decades this testimony was taken in public and was dominated by federal contractors. However, we attended in three consecutive years, but starting last year, there was no longer an opportunity to go face-to-face to the State Department to tell them what we think.  Why is that? Because in that last year where a PUBLIC hearing was held, the opposition to the program dominated the pro-open borders resettlement contractors and they didn’t like it one bit!

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!


Here (and below) is the Federal Register Notice for FY2017.  You have until 5 p.m. on May 19th to submit written testimony!  

I’m asking all of you to prepare and send in testimony by the May 19th deadline. You don’t have to do some deep analysis of the program, just tell them what you think, and what is happening where you live. (Please be professional and polite!)

I know I said it goes into a black hole, but you can use your testimony in other ways. Use it to do press releases and letters to the editor.  Use it to ask your concerned local elected officials to send in testimony too.

Be sure to send your testimony to all of your elected officials at all levels of government (cc them on the testimony). When sending your testimony to your elected Washington representatives, ask them to do something in your cover letter so that they are at least put on notice that you want a response from them.

Federal Register Notice:

The United States actively supports efforts to provide protection, assistance, and durable solutions for refugees. The U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) is a critical component of the United States’ overall refugee protection efforts around the globe. In Fiscal Year 2016, the President established the ceiling for refugee admissions into the United States at 85,000 refugees.

As we begin to prepare the FY 2017 U.S. Refugee Admission Program, we welcome the public’s input. Information about the Program can be found at Persons wishing to submit written comments on the appropriate size and scope of the FY 2016 U.S. Refugee Admissions Program should submit them by 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 19, 2015 via email to or fax (202) 453-9393.Show citation box

If you have questions about submitting written comments, please contact Delicia Spruell, PRM/Admissions Program Officer at


Simon Henshaw,

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, Department of State.

[FR Doc. 2016-09267 Filed 4-20-16; 8:45 am]

Posted in Reforms needed, Refugee Resettlement Program, Testimony for 5/1/2012 State Dept. meeting, Testimony for 5/15/2013 State Dept. meeting, Testimony for 5/29/2014 State Dept. meeting, Where to find information | Tagged: | 26 Comments »

Re-post: Ten reasons there should be a moratorium on refugee resettlement

Posted by Ann Corcoran on December 5, 2015

Now that the mainstream media and the public are waking up to the UN/US State Department Refugee Admissions Program and how it has been operating for the last 35 years, I thought it would be a good idea to re-post this testimony I gave to the US State Department (first in 2012 at its annual scoping meeting and repeated in 2013 and 2014).

Anne-Richard-640x480 (1)

Anne Richard is the Asst. Secretary of State for Population Refugees and Migration. Here she testified last month at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Syrian refugees. She needs to produce the hearing record for the 2015 ‘scoping meeting’ which we believe was held in secrecy. Photo and story about Judiciary hearing:

I just mentioned it in my previous post on annual reports.

As far as we can tell, the US State Department did not hold a public scoping hearing in 2015 (for FY2016) because we never saw a notice for it this year. In these ‘scoping meetings/hearings’ they ostensibly seek public input on the size of the program for the upcoming year and they want to know what countries should be the focus of protection.

The ‘scoping’ meeting (like a hearing) was usually held in late spring/early summer of the preceding year. Prior to our attendance in 2012, these meetings/hearings were dominated by the resettlement contractors and their groupies.

And, one more thing, the State Department does not keep and publish a hearing record for this meeting.  The only way we could ever learn what others were saying was to obtain the hard copy testimony by attending in person! There ought to be a law!

Here is my testimony in 2012 (repeated in 2013 and 2014):

Ten Reasons there should be no refugees resettled in the US in FY2013—instead a moratorium should be put in place until the program is reformed and the economy completely recovers.

1)    There are no jobs. The program was never meant to be simply a way to import impoverished people to the US and place them on an already overtaxed welfare system.

 2)     The program has become a cash cow for various “religious” organizations and other contractors who very often appear to care more about the next group of refugees coming in (and the cash that comes with each one) than the group they resettled only a few months earlier. Stories of refugees suffering throughout the US are rampant.

3)   Terrorist organizations (mostly Islamic) are using the program that still clearly has many failings in the security screening system.  Indeed consideration should be given to halting the resettlement of Muslims altogether.  Also, the UN should have no role in choosing refugees for the US.

4)    The public is not confident that screenings for potential terrorists (#3) or the incidences of other types of fraudulent entry are being properly and thoroughly investigated and stopped.  When fraud is uncovered—either fraud to enter the country or illegal activity once the refugee has been resettled—punishment should be immediate deportation.

5)     The agencies, specifically the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), is in complete disarray as regards its legally mandated requirement to report to Congress every year on how refugees are doing and where the millions of tax dollars are going that run the programThe last (and most recent) annual report to be sent to Congress is the 2008 report—so they are out of compliance for fiscal years 2009, 2010 and 2011.  A moratorium is necessary in order for the ORR to bring its records entirely up-to-date. Additionally,  there needs to be an adequate tracking system designed to gather required data—frankly some of the numbers reported for such measures of dependence on welfare as food stamp usage, cash assistance and employment status are nothing more than guesses.  (The lack of reports for recent years signals either bureaucratic incompetence and disregard for the law, or, causes one to wonder if there is something ORR is hiding.)

6)    The State Department and the ORR have so far failed to adequately determine and report (and track once the refugee has been admitted) the myriad communicable and costly-to-treat diseases entering the country with the refugee population.

7)   Congress needs to specifically disallow the use of the refugee program for other purposes of the US Government,especially using certain refugee populations to address unrelated foreign policy objectives—Uzbeks, Kosovars, Meshketians and Bhutanese (Nepalese) people come to mind.

8)   Congress needs to investigate and specifically disallow any connection between this program and big businesseslooking for cheap and captive labor.  The federal government should not be acting as head-hunter for corporations.

9)     The Volag system should be completely abolished and the program should be run by state agencies with accountability to the public through their state legislatures. The system as presently constituted is surely unconstitutional.  (One of many benefits of turning the program over to a state agency is to break up the government/contractor revolving door that is being demonstrated now at both the State Department and ORR.)  The participating state agency’s job would be to find groups, churches, or individuals who would sponsor a refugee family completely for at least a year and monitor those sponsors. Their job would include making sure refugees are assimilating. A mechanism should be established that would allow a refugee to go home if he or she is unhappy or simply can’t make it in America. Short of a complete halt to resettlement-by-contractor, taxpayers should be protected by legally requiring financial audits of contractors and subcontractors on an annual basis.

10)   As part of #9, there needs to be established a process for alerting communities to the impending arrival of refugees that includes reports from the federal government (with local input) about the social and economic impact a certain new group of refugees will have on a city or town.   This report would be presented to the public through public hearings and the local government would have an opportunity to say ‘no.’


For these reasons and more, the Refugee admissions program should be placed on hold and a serious effort made by Congress to either scrap the whole thing or reform it during the moratorium.  My recommendation for 2013 is to stop the program now.  The Office of the President could indeed ask for hearings to review the Refugee Resettlement Act of 1980-–three decades is time enough to see its failings and determine if reauthorization is feasible or whether a whole new law needs to be written.

Information on the three hearings we wrote about and attended are archived here, here and here.  (Those files include posts in which we referenced the hearings/meetings as well.)

By the way, Richard revolved into the State Department from her contractor job at the International Rescue Committee. She had a previous stint at the State Dept.  The revolving door is alive and well between contractor and federal agency involving refugee resettlement.

Posted in Changing the way we live, Reforms needed, Refugee Resettlement Program, Testimony for 5/1/2012 State Dept. meeting, Testimony for 5/29/2014 State Dept. meeting, Where to find information | Tagged: , | 13 Comments »

US State Department will not hear public testimony on refugee program this year

Posted by Ann Corcoran on April 30, 2014

For the first time that I know of, there will be no opportunity for the public to go to Washington (frankly they should be having hearings all over the country!) to make suggestions for the refugee program for the upcoming fiscal year.

See announcement of public comment period here.

We can only conclude that officials were not happy with the outspoken testimony given by a handful of concerned citizens in the last two or three cycles.

Anne C. Richard Assistant Secretary of State for PRM.

I’ve been to the last two, and two years ago the room was mostly filled with contractors and others employed in the refugee business.  Several of us testified that the program needed to be changed.  [You can see my testimony here—ten reasons for a moratorium on refugee resettlement.  I presented virtually the same testimony both years.]

Last year a larger number of critics were in attendance and many of the contractors had apparently simply mailed in their comments and didn’t attend.  Here is my report from last year.

We just got word yesterday that there will be no hearing at all this year.

In the past two years (and I assume previously as well), the only way for your mailed-in testimony to see the light of day was by those of us in attendance bringing it home to review.  There was no public record made.

This year we must insist on a published public record.  Don’t send your comments yet, you have time.   I’ll have more information later….gotta run today! 

And, as I said I will be re-posting some of last year’s testimony so you can see what some of your fellow citizens had to say.

Anne C. Richard is Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration.  She was formerly employed as a contractor (International Rescue Committee) and was likely the official responsible for making the decision to have no public hearing for FY 2015.



Posted in Refugee Resettlement Program, Testimony for 5/1/2012 State Dept. meeting, Testimony for 5/15/2013 State Dept. meeting, Testimony for 5/29/2014 State Dept. meeting, The Opposition | 5 Comments »

Burma: Muslim Rohingya riot, burn homes, kill residents after leaving mosque

Posted by Ann Corcoran on June 9, 2012

Update June 10th:  Fighting continues in Rakhine as armed Rohingya rebels continue to terrorize Buddhists, here.

Special note to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops—these are the “persecuted” people you want to bring to America?

From Eleven Media Group:

Eleven Media Group)- Dozens of Rakhine people were killed amidst the Rohingya terrorist attacks in border town of Maungdaw in Rakhine State, the western part of Myanmar on Friday.

Due to the violence, hundreds of houses and buildings were burnt down by mobs, said the reporter Ko Win Maung of the Eleven Media at the scene.

The death toll in the incident has reached 20 to 30 until the night of 8 June and the injured persons nearby villages of Maundaw Township have been taken to Maungdaw hospital.

The onset of the violence on 8 June was that the Rohingya Muslims who returned from the mosque yesterday afternoon started throwing the stones to the Rakhine houses and buildings in Maungdaw Township, according to the Eleven Media reporter whose house was also blazed amidst the violence.

As the riots could not be controlled, the police forces took security measures in the town where Muslims are majority and Rakhine people are minority. Rohingya mobs were setting fire on the nearby villages of Rakhine ethnics, said a Buddhist monk who resides in Maungdaw Township.

Readers, at the May 1 State Department meeting to discuss who should be resettled in the US, Anastasia Brown of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops made a case for more Rohingya “refugees” to be resettled in the US.  Is it the job of the US to bring every group of supposedly persecuted Muslims to our towns and cities?  Should the average American taxpaying citizen have to pay for the Islamic upheaval in large parts of the world by bringing the Islamists to their neighborhoods?  For what?  To help Burma or Somalia or  Syria (next!)?  To show we are good people?  To show we are fair by balancing out our Christians and Muslims?

Readers please focus on the word Rohingya and don’t let this happen.  We were asleep when these same contractor/church groups began the importation of Somalis, but we are awake now.

This is our 108th post on Rohingya since 2008, please glance through our Rohingya Reports category, here, for more information.

Update:  Here is the Reuters version of the riots, but it doesn’t matter who started what, the message for us is that we should let them fight it out in Burma!  We don’t need to be resettling all of the world’s problems into the US.

Posted in Crimes, diversity's dark side, Muslim refugees, Refugee Resettlement Program, Rohingya Reports, Testimony for 5/1/2012 State Dept. meeting | 2 Comments »

Shake-up at Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society

Posted by Ann Corcoran on May 26, 2012

The longtime president of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), one of the top nine federal contractors resettling refugees in our cities, resigned this month.   Hat tip: Friends of Refugees.

He says it’s for family reasons (that is what they all say!), but this article suggests that the agency was being criticized for not focusing on Jews in trouble around the world.  To tell you the truth from the earliest days of writing RRW I wondered how HIAS justified resettling Muslims.  But, I will bet if they didn’t agree to resettle everyone, the feds would cut them off financially.

You can read all about it here.  Aronoff confirms that in order to keep the organization going you need to resettle as many warm bodies as possible—not just Jews—because their funding is dependent on a per capita payment from you, the taxpayer.

The interim President, Mark Hetfield, testified at the May 1 State Department meeting among other things to lighten up on the security restrictions and to get the P-3 program completely up and running.   He specifically, sensibly, says, “The terror which refugees fled must not follow them to the United States,” then goes on to say we are being too strict with our security screening.  Go figure!

We have written about HIAS and Aronoff previously, here is one post where we learned that Aronoff was letting staff go in 2009 while holding on to his quarter of a million dollar salary.

Learn more about HIAS!  Check out our archives with all the posts in which we mention this contractor here.

Posted in Refugee Resettlement Program, Testimony for 5/1/2012 State Dept. meeting | 1 Comment »

Rohingya connection to terrorist groups being searched here at RRW

Posted by Ann Corcoran on May 25, 2012

Just an interesting bit of information I noticed yesterday in looking at our stats—-lots of people are looking at a 2009 post about the State Department having identified Burmese Rohingya people as being connected to Islamic terrorist groups.   For some reason that three-year-old post is getting a lot of attention.   Unfortunately, the State Department has removed the link for the terrorist group list.

There is another post in 2009 here that also mentions the Rohingya connection to Islamic extremists.

As I’ve mentioned before, we’ve written over 100 posts on the Rohingya, categorized here.  My primary interest over the years was whether we would bring Rohingya refugees to the US, but now that we are and no one is paying attention it doesn’t matter much (until something goes wrong!).

By the way, several of those testifying at the May 1 State Department meeting were pushing Rohingya resettlement, including Anastasia Brown, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops representative.

An afterthought:  I have New Hampshire on my mind (next post) and I wonder if NH got its contingent of Rohingya this past year?

Posted in Crimes, diversity's dark side, Muslim refugees, Refugee Resettlement Program, Rohingya Reports, Testimony for 5/1/2012 State Dept. meeting | 2 Comments »

California citizen: refugee program a fraud!

Posted by Ann Corcoran on May 24, 2012


“Who would not tell a white lie in order to get everything for free”?

Readers, I haven’t forgotten that I plan to continue to post testimony from that May 1 State Department meeting which was ostensibly to give you an opportunity to voice your opinion on how many refugees the US will take in FY 2013 and from where.  But, the Refugee program head honcho, Lawrence Bartlett, said at the meeting that they wouldn’t make the testimony available on-line (those in attendance received the testimony in hard copy).   All of the testimony I’ve posted so far is here in our special category for the meeting.

This is what one California citizen had to say (emphasis mine):

I have been in the photography business since 1973 in a town called Rancho Cordova, California. It is a suburb of Sacramento. We do not need any more refugees in our community. We have been the destination point for over 150 thousand alleged religiously persecuted refugees from the former Soviet Union. It is nothing more than a scam against taxpayer. It is under the Lautenberg act of 1989. There is no religious persecution in Russia. And if there was, is it our duty to support them?

The churches are behind it in order to receive free money for putting phony refugees on public assistance. I cannot describe in words the resentment of my customers who work in the banks, grocery stores, and in the medical field who are extremely resentful of this largesse.

The women who work at the banks and grocery stores are witnesses to the scams and the fraud that is committed on a daily basis. As my friend who works at the bank states if I cash one more social security check for someone who has never paid into the system and is drawing more than my parents who worked all of their lives I will scream. The resentment is palpable.

Particularly when the community found out there is no religious persecution in Russia. That it is nothing more than a scam to obtain a middle class life on the backs of someone else.

I have proof it is all fraud and not even my congressman Lungren [Dan Lungren] will discuss it out of fear of being destroyed politically. I have brought the fraud to the attention to ICE. They responded with they know it is fraud. They said they would be sued if they dare try and stop it.

I am a Viet Nam Vet as is my brother via the law in those days. My brother’s neighbors from Cambodia never worked a day while they lived next to my brother. He and his wife worked to support them. How can you justify that. The nice folks from Cambodia received section 8 housing and their kids went to college at my brother’s expense.

If we took that money and spent it on the black community maybe there would not be cities full of Ghettos?

We cannot afford it period. We need to follow the original law. Meaning they cannot be a burden on taxpayers. They are supposed to have sponsors who support them. It is shameful the only reason the churches are interested in resettling is money for themselves.

You forget the domino effect in our community such as crime and gangs in the Russian community. I had a Russian friend who worked for me, by the name of Alex Sukonof tell me “Who would not tell a white lie in order to get everything for free”?

Alex also told me that he thought “It was ok that his in laws claimed religious persecution like the others.” That they only receive about $1300.00 between them, including free health care that we pay for. Apparently as alleged Refugees: they are entitled to SSI for 7 years. If they become citizens within that time, it is now a lifetime entitlement. Even though they have never worked a day in their life here.

The real sad part is that according to Alex they are allowed to take the Citizenship test in their native language. I know for a fact his in laws do not speak a word of English, as I have called their house looking for him several times.

The bottom line is: by telling a little white lie about religious persecution, they are allowed an income for life that they did not earn. That is persecution of hard working taxpayers. This entire Refugee program is an upside down cake.

Furthermore: even if it was all real as there are others that are real, this directly affects Americans who are in need of a job. We need to shut it down totally until we become flush with cash again as a country.

We need to eliminate the entire program and operate it on an individual basis with true volunteers.

The reason you do not hear from the public is fear of losing their job or demonized as a racist.

Posted in Changing the way we live, Community destabilization, Immigration fraud, Reforms needed, Refugee Resettlement Program, Testimony for 5/1/2012 State Dept. meeting | Comments Off on California citizen: refugee program a fraud!

Comment worth noting: large contractors like ECDC monopolize refugee funding

Posted by Ann Corcoran on May 17, 2012

This is a comment I received in response to my post last week about how the Ethiopian Community Development Council (one of the big nine cabal of federal refugee contractors) testifying at the US State Department May 1 meeting, here, asked that the funds keep coming even if the refugees aren’t.

Readers not familiar with the situation in St. Louis with the African Mutual Assistance Association of Missouri, might wish to first read this article (for background) in St. Louis Today from earlier this year.

From Gedlu B. Metaferia (emphasis mine):

Although I differ in views from you [at RRW] because of my former status as a refugee with liberal background I still appreciate your blogs because you expand our horizon of dialog and understanding from various angles. I know where you are coming from.  I am with you on many posts of waste of Government use of tax payer dollar. I was sick to the stomach when I saw the $13-14 million ECDC 990 to resettle less than 300 refugees every year.  I am not envious person by nature, and I expected honesty from non-profits, foundations and our government. Now I know better.  I did not want to write this post because I have stopped writing on ORR-“VOLAG” related issues temporarily because I do not want to offend very few genuine contractors who help refugees, although I believe that change is coming soon.  I am also outspoken on ORR and the crony like racket because the grant (contract) awardees are always the same personalities and organizations. I have also stopped writing temporarily because I believe that the worst offenders of a malfunction of a system are those refugee workers who keep quite and turn their just eyes the other way instead of fixing it.  I will be having a web site of advocacy in refugee issues pretty soon.  As you may probably know ECDC has given me hard time by cropping ad helping another agency (AIRS) in St. Louis, the effect has contributed to AMAAM [African Mutual Assistance Association of Missouri] to close early. We were beaten hard here in St. Louis by ORR money which was obtained on behalf of AIRS by ECDC from 2002-2004.

ORR does not consider million of resources that VOLAGS have before distributing $600 million- $1 Billion a year.  This why small genuine organizations are wiped out  especially in this recession.  One refugee  specialist friend made me laugh when he commented that ‘If some of these rich share volags  contribute at least 1% of their net income  for agencies like AMAAM life will not be difficult for many”. I know that this will not happen. The resettlement lobby is very strong. It does not tolerate differing opinion. It is a kingdom  that uses refugees to enrich itself. I am not writing as a self-serving issue, but I was providing services for more than 500 refugee families without including other categories of legal immigrants for less than $100K with 3-7 employees.  These refugees are often given support 2 years after arrival because resettlement agencies have to concentrate on new arrivals. There are also secondary migrants (who stay in St. Louis from 1 week to 5 years). It is not self-serving to say that I have the blessing of respect, well wishes and love as I walk on the street from African immigrants. That is the only beautiful capital and gratitude I get and it is a blessing from God.  When I saw the $14 million figure in the 990 of ECDC it just makes me sad.  I am not against making wealth. I strongly believe that tamed capitalism is the best system because I had seen vestiges of 3 systems in Ethiopia which are very horrible. I am not against if VOLAGS make billions by their hard work. But this one is not right by capitalisms standard, by Gods standard, by true charitable standard, by any standard, by conservative standard, by liberal standard, by American standard.  There has to be a way to reform refugee resettlement, non-profits and foundations. I do not want the name refugee to be associated with making profits, it is immoral and unjust.

Well said!

Posted in Comments worth noting/guest posts, Reforms needed, Refugee Resettlement Program, Testimony for 5/1/2012 State Dept. meeting | 1 Comment »

So what is going on in Lancaster, PA? More refugees than the city can handle?

Posted by Ann Corcoran on May 11, 2012

Update May 20th:  Church World Service—thousands upon thousands resettled to Lancaster, here!

You know Lancaster—the home of the Amish.  Not!

I’m going to tell you about one of my favorite testimonies sent to the US State Department two weeks ago for the May 1 scoping meeting to hear from “stakeholders” (that is government talk for contractors) on how many refugees and which ones to bring to the US in FY 2013.  Obama will make a “determination” and send it to Congress in September where Congress will rubber stamp it just in time for the October 1st opening of fiscal year 2013.

But… before I tell you more about the testimony, a little background:  In 2007, we in Washington Country Maryland were just minding our own business when several incidents occurred with new immigrants that got the attention of the authorities and finally the newspaper.  We learned that the Virginia Council of Churches (Virginia! mind you) was resettling third worlders in Hagerstown (our county seat).  Some of us just wanted to better understand how this was happening—WHAT WAS THE GOVERNMENTAL PROCESS that allowed a supposed non-profit from Virginia to drop off people in Hagerstown.  Where would they work?  Who was paying for this?  Who was responsible for their health, their housing, their education?

To make a long story short, we had a public meeting for all those involved which included the primary federal contractor Church World Service (they subcontract to Virginia Council of Churches), our state refugee coordinator, and some representatives of the US State Department.  The public asked a lot of questions—many were answered in let’s just say a not straightforward fashion.  We were lectured about how we are a ‘nation of immigrants’ and probably not even two weeks later the program was closed in Hagerstown and we were labeled “unwelcoming” —I suppose because we asked too many questions.   This is how this blog was born—out of annoyance with government officials who keep information from the public!  (For anyone interested in more on what happened in Hagerstown we have a category, unused lately, here, in which we told our story in the early years.)

So how does Lancaster fit in?

We were told in 2007 that the majority of refugees we were getting were Meshketians (Russian Sunni Muslim Turks) who were originally destined for Lancaster, PA about 100 miles away.  However, somehow there was a glitch in the plan for Lancaster (we heard a crime problem had cropped up) and that Church World Service (one of nine federal contractors who monopolize the program) had to quickly find a place to take the next batch of Meshketians.  I think they just looked at a map and picked Hagerstown—fresh territory for refugee resettlement and close enough to Lancaster so the Meshketians could visit back and forth.

And, by the way, we heard that some Meshketians had homes to sell in Russia and were able to buy homes here—so were they even real refugees?  Or, were we using this program (again!) for some foreign policy political reason involving Russia and Turkey?

Here is what Church World Service (CWS) told the State Department on May 1 (Oh, and by the way, CWS is the “crop walk” group, some of you may know them from participating in their fundraising project.—ed):

In the United States, communities, schools, religious congregations, and employers welcome refugees and help them integrate in their new homes.  In turn, refugees bring their innovative skills, diverse cultures, dedicated work, and other positive contributions to their new communities, enhancing the quality of life for all parties. Refugee resettlement showcases the best virtues of the United States—community, opportunity, hard work, diversity, caring for one another, and courage to start a new life.

Now, here is what a citizen of Lancaster, PA says of Church World Service (I won’t publish the woman’s name, but apparently she has been trying to help refugees who are struggling in her community—in other words she is not a bigot and xenophobe like we are here at RRW!).  This is not the first time we have heard of refugee volunteers trying to do the best for refugees and running into problems with arrogant resettlement contractors.   For the record, I don’t know this woman.  [Emphasis below is mine—ed]

From a refugee volunteer in Lancaster, PA:

Why do organizations like Church World Service make unilateral decisions on how many refugees get settled into an area?

CWS and Lutheran Social Services have settled at least 2500 refugees (that’s probably a low guess as they refuse to give out totals, but only list how many of one nationality that they have settled in a past year) in Lancaster in the past 3 years without any approval process required from our mayor, our city council or without any consultation with our school board. The city of Lancaster population is approximately 56,000. In the past 2 1/2 years, these two organizations, who have no accountability to voters… have made the population approximately 4% refugee. I help refugees here in Lancaster and I am aware that in the short term, they are a very heavy financial burden on the city. Surely it is reasonable and right for our elected officials to have some say in how many refugees are settled into the city within a certain time period?

I work with families, I see the neglect:

I work with three refugee families in an informal support system through the Unitarian Social Justice committee here in Lancaster. I work with refugees who are hard working, serious people. They will eventually be a great asset to the city. But in the short term, they are a great financial burden on the city.

Every member of these three refugee families arrived with health issues. Many continue to have serious health issues and use the free clinics for health care, for surgery, for extensive testing, for dental work.

Each family has one or more grandparents who are permanently disabled in some way and need financial aid and city services.   [Elderly refugees may receive SSI even if they never paid into the system—ed]

Because of language and educational difficulties, earning power is low. In spite of their very low income, there are cultural issues, which lead the young women to marry early and start families right away and stay home with their babies. They do not work outside the home. I know this because… within a year… my three families, including newly married older daughters and married cousins who share the same buildings… had four new babies… and another baby is due this month. They are good families and the Nepali refugees are wonderful parents. But, each low income family needs government services and financial aid to insure that there is good food and good medical care for the moms and babies. It’s a significant cost to the community.

There are other cultural difficulties that present challenges and sometimes dangers for the refugees and for the city, which are not addressed by the two Lancaster settlement agencies.

CWS officially works with the families for 3 months but their orientations are neglectfully inadequate.

I could quickly list 10 very serious incidences of neglect by CWS, but to save time here, I will tell only one story and a few bullet points. Please contact me if you would like more information. I could write many pages based on my notes of the past 2 years.

The testimony goes on to report problems with the orientation of refugees, safety issues and bed bugs.

“CWS is dumping refugees on to the city”

Many Lancaster people that I talk with…who also try to help refugees here… use the word “dumping”… CWS is dumping refugees on to the city… taking a payment to settle the refugees and moving on to the next group of refugees who will bring in more money to pay for CWS salaries, office space and fund raising events. This is the impression of many compassionate, frustrated people here in Lancaster, who are then accused of being part of a racist or anti-immigration backlash. We are not anti-immigration. We are expending our own personal time and money and pressuring our churches to spend time and money, picking up the pieces that CWS drops into our community. We now want a say in how many refugees can be settle here.

[New readers, see this 2010 story from Greensboro, NC and see the same problem—local church volunteers crying out to stop the flow of refugees at least for awhile!]

The commenter then goes on to make recommendations and mentions the State of Tennessee’s efforts to get some local control into the program.   How much do you want to bet the State Department won’t follow-up and ask her for her proposals.  Nor is the State Department making any of this testimony available to the public.   She needs to send her testimony to her Congressman and US Senators and ask that they publish it in the Congressional Record!  The buck stops with Congress!

Posted in Changing the way we live, Muslim refugees, Reforms needed, Refugee Resettlement Program, Resettlement cities, September Forum, Testimony for 5/1/2012 State Dept. meeting | 16 Comments »

ECDC: We want money even when refugee flows are low

Posted by Ann Corcoran on May 9, 2012

ECDC is the Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc,* one of the top federal refugee contractors, here  (oh funny, I see we lost two contractors recently, the number had been 11).  A representative from this organization testified last week at the State Department meeting and although I couldn’t understand his verbal testimony, his written testimony has several interesting nuggets of information.  One nugget, which I hope to get to in the next few days, involves a pitch to take so-called “refugees” from the Rainbow Nation—that supposed heaven-on-Earth called South Africa.  Who knew that blacks could be xenophobic!

We want to be paid no matter how many refugees we resettle! 

Readers, I have reported on many occasions that one of many flaws in this program is that the resettlement contractors are paid by the head to resettle refugees, so when the flow slows, as it is right now (due to extra security measures being put in place), the agencies have to (boo hoo) let people go.   It was before my time, but I am told that immediately following 9/11 the flow was cut dramatically, but these “non-profit” contractors managed to wrangle money out of the federal government anyway to pay themselves salaries until the spigot opened again.

Here, the representative from ECDC asks for your tax dollars again, even if work has slowed.   (I have broken his long paragraph into smaller ones so you can read it easier, and added emphasis—ed)

Administrative Floor Funding for Domestic Resettlement

ECDC recommends that PRM fund local resettlement agencies at 100 percent of approved capacity. Within the last two fiscal years, partly due to the Inter-Agency Check (IAC) [involves security—ed] holds, the resettlement program has encountered significantly lower than expected arrivals.  Because local resettlement agencies are reimbursed on per capita arrivals, they have been unable to pay for administrative expenses, including staff.

While some agencies have used reserve funds and have been able to garner additional private resources, in the reality of continued low arrivals, these funding sources have been exhausted.  [This program was never intended to be fully funded by the feds (by you)! The public-private partnership meant that the “non-profits” were to raise lots of money on their own!—ed*] Consequently, many agencies have laid off staff.  When agencies do receive arrivals, they are not fully prepared to serve them with limited employees.  They must quickly hire new case management staff who may not receive the benefit of robust, extended training.

US refugee arrivals fluctuate widely from month-to-month and year-to-year, making it nearly impossible for local agencies to have a solid infrastructure in place at all times that can readily adapt and provide quality Reception and Placement services. With full funding, local resettlement agencies are able to maintain continuity in their respective administrative and staffing capacities to resettle refugees, despite unanticipated and uneven arrival patterns. [So, they can sit around in offices collecting a salary even if no refugees are coming?—ed]. It is in the best interest of refugees that local offices be equipped and ready at all times to offer high-quality resettlement.

* Now check out their most recent Form 990, here.   They took in $13 million in that year and $11 million came from you!  They have a couple of 6-figure salaries they have to maintain too.

All this would be solved if we took these contractors out of this business.  The complaints that we see on the local level are related to contractors wanting more warm bodies to resettle and then three months later turning those people over to local government to care for!

New readers:  See all of our coverage of this May 1 State Department meeting in our category set up specifically for that purpose, here.

Posted in Africa, Refugee Resettlement Program, Testimony for 5/1/2012 State Dept. meeting | 2 Comments »


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