As regular readers know by now, I am driving through the heartland to learn more about how towns and cities, seeded through the UN/US State Department with growing enclaves of ethnic diversity and where in most cases no effort to assimilate by the newcomers, is creating politically and socially tense communities.
If I were to pick one motivating force (for RRW and this trip) it is to expose the secrecy with which towns and cities have been populated by third worlders through federal refugee contractors working for the US State Department and the Office of Refugee Resettlement in the Dept. of Health and Human Services.
The controversy swirling in Vermont (of all places!) about the establishment of a new resettlement site for Syrian Muslims is instructive. Initial plans were put in place between the refugee contractor and a rogue mayor. When citizens caught on, only months from ‘welcoming’ the first Syrians, all hell broke loose. (See our previous posts on Rutland by clicking here.)
Here is the latest from VTDigger.org. City council excludes mayor from discussion of their next moves!
Rutland’s Board of Aldermen held a closed-door executive session with the city’s attorney last night to discuss legal issues surrounding the refugee resettlement process. In a rare move, the board excluded Mayor Chris Louras from the meeting.
The board approved three motions: one directs the City Attorney to request the full abstract*** and application for Rutland’s resettlement program from the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants and its affiliate, the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program; the second asks the attorney to conduct a review of the mayor’s actions and whether those actions comply with the city charter and any other applicable law; and the third recommends that the Charter and Ordinance Committee review subchapter 9 of the charter which lays out the mayor’s executive powers.
In an interview outside the boardroom Mayor Louras said this was the first time he’d been excluded from an executive session.
“I think this is the board acting out in a relatively juvenile manner,” he said.
He also said he wanted to know if there was a “contract or paper trail between the mayor’s office and VRRP.”
The mayor has stated on numerous occasions that refugee resettlement is a federally administered program involving no contracts or agreements with the city. The only paper trail, beyond correspondence with the various agencies involved, Louras says, is the letter of support he wrote to the State Department as part of the application process. Louras says he writes similar letters for grant applications on a regular basis without board approval.
At a tense board meeting on May 25, one month after the announcement was made that Rutland was being considered as a possible location for Syrian refugees, members of the board were provided with hard copies of the three-page abstract pertaining to Rutland and submitted to the State Department by USCRI.
***Get your FY2017 Abstract! Knowledge is power!
I feel like I’m beating a dead horse when I say this, but every one of you living in on-going resettlement sites and proposed new ones must demand to be given the R & P Abstract for FY17. This is a document prepared by every contractor and it goes to Washington as the document used to FUND the resettlement program where you live. It is a treasure-trove of information.
Also, these documents (payment planning documents) will be used for the creation of Obama’s last decision on how many refugees he will propose for FY2017 which begins October 1, 2016.
The discussion above, that for Rutland there are only 3 pages, is suspicious. I have the one prepared by USCRI (the same major contractor) for FY17 for Reno, Nevada and it is 16 pages! Significantly there are many pages attached which are letters of support from the school system (you must identify who is behind more refugee resettlement!), Catholic Charities (the major contractor in the state) and the local Islamic Center, etc.
It also lists the companies that are apparently eager for cheap immigrant labor.
Demand transparency for your communities!
Call your local resettlement contractor and ask for the R & P Abstract for 2017. They will likely tell you NO! Then contact your state refugee coordinator and ask for it. If you get a NO there, then try using your state’s Public Information Law and and try to get it that way (may not work in Wilson-Fish states where the program has been essentially de-coupled from any elected body within the state).
If you get the document, make it publicly available and open a debate. Put it before your local elected body and demand a public hearing or meeting on it. If you don’t get it raise a ruckus!
This isn’t some sort of silver bullet, but is an important part of the process of demanding transparency for American citizens paying the bill for all of this. As someone said to me yesterday. We have no silver bullet, but we are building one!