Posted by Christopher Coen on May 17, 2015
Parts of the political spectrum devoted to everything anti-immigrant have been feverishly misleading the public about the Central American Minors Refugee/Parole Program, announced by the federal government in November 2014. The goal appears to convince the public that the federal government is paying to have illegal immigrants minors flown to the US to join their illegal immigrant parents – of course most of that is false, with the rest omitting just enough information to be deceptive. The program, run by the departments of State and Homeland Security, allows qualified immigrant parents living in the US legally to ask that their children in El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras be allowed into US as refugees. Alternatively, parents may continue to apply for their minor children to enter as parolees, which allows for the temporary entry of persons on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or for significant public benefit. The rules for refugees and parolees vary enormously. An article in the Florida Times-Union sorts out the details of the program using FactCheck.org and a US Department of State fact sheet:
…Applications [to the Central American Minors program] have been accepted since December . Interviews will determine if the children qualify for refugee status — if they were “persecuted or fear persecution due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group” in their home country, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services…
The policy [followed] a large increase in the number of unaccompanied immigrant children who illegally crossed the U.S. border during the summer of 2014….
Funding for the flights will be provided by the State Department’s Bureau for Population, Migration and Refugees…But “the parent of the child will sign a promissory note agreeing to repay the cost of travel to the United States”…
A qualifying parent living in the U.S. must initiate the application for refugee resettlement. The child seeking relocation must be under the age of 21; unmarried; a national of El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras; and living in his or her native country.
A qualifying parent must be at least 18 years old and living in the U.S. with Permanent Resident Status, or Temporary Protected Status, or Parolee, or Deferred Action Deferred Enforced Departure, or Withholding of Removal…
Parents and children must also undergo DNA testing to prove a biological relationship. The tests are paid for by the U.S. parent. If the results confirm relation, the parent could be reimbursed in full, according to the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement.
Certain medical clearances will also be necessary…
Unlike those admitted as refugees, parolees are not immediately eligible for medical and other federal benefits — beyond school and work authorization — upon arriving in the U.S….[their] parents… must sign an affidavit [unlike for parents of refugee minors] that the parent will financially support the child while he or she is in the country…
… parolees won’t be eligible for U.S. citizenship. Refugees are required to apply for a green card, or legal permanent residency, after a year…and, after five years, they can apply to become U.S. citizens. Parolees will generally only be admitted to the U.S. for two years. After that time, they can reapply for parole, again, on a temporary basis…
…only parents lawfully in the U.S. can make a request for their child… [The] State Department… says it expects “a relatively small number” of admissions under the new program in 2015. That’s partly because children or parents admitted as refugees will be included in the Refugee Admissions Program’s annual Latin America/Caribbean regional allocation, which is capped at 4,000 for the fiscal year ending September 30. That is 1,000 fewer than was authorized for fiscal year 2014.
But there is no cap on the number who can be admitted on parole in a year…
…[in contrast to parolees] the State Department says “there is some flexibility within the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program to accommodate a higher than anticipated number from Latin America in FY 2015”…
As of April 23… officials had received 565 applications for the minors program, according to congressional testimony from Simon Henshaw, principal deputy assistant secretary for the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration… none of the applicants had yet been interviewed by an official with USCIS. Read more here
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: Central American Minors, FactCheck.org, immigration, parolees, refugees, resettlement, State Department | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on April 28, 2015
Due to apparent overloading of Amarillo community institutions from refugee resettlement and secondary migration the area’s State Senator has now sponsored a bill that would require the state’s Health and Human Services Commission (which coordinates with HHS-ORR and the US State Department) to coordinate with local officials. The US State Department restricted resettlement in fall 2013, but family reunion cases and an apparent larger secondary migration kept new settlements climbing. If the unfilled job positions are there people will keep arriving. The new leader of Catholic Charities of the Texas Panhandle (formerly Catholic Family Service Inc.) claimed she found out about the problems with institutional overloading in 2011 from the larger community, the year she took over the agency; implying neither her staff nor her predecessor knew about this essential issue effecting the community, or knew but did not tell her.
The bill would require the two local resettlement agencies (the other being Refugee Services of Texas) to “convene and conduct quarterly refugee placement consultations with state and local government and community stakeholders regarding proposed refugee placement; (b) obtain feedback on the proposed refugee placement from community stakeholders including but not limited to city, county, and state officials; local health care systems; local school districts; and local law enforcement agencies; and major employers of refugees; (c) consider all feedback obtained prior to releasing the annual proposed refugee placement report for the United States Department of State’s Reception and Placement (R&P) program; (d) develop a final refugee placement report for the national voluntary agencies and Health and Human Services Commission and include a summary of how stakeholder input contributed to the final request; and (e) inform all community stakeholders, as described in…(b), of the annual proposed refugee placement report.”
The bill’s sponsor, State Senator Kel Seliger, has, according to Wikipedia, served four terms in the nonpartisan position as mayor of Amarillo from 1993–2001. He is considered one of the most moderate of the twenty (as of 2015) Texas Senate Republicans…according to an analysis by Mark P. Jones of the political science department at Rice University in Houston. Seliger filed and sponsored over seventy-five bills, fifty of which passed in one form or another during the regular session of the 79th Legislature. (Seliger passed a bill requiring local law enforcement agencies to report to the state the reason for a peace officer’s termination to protect state law enforcement officers’ integrity – preventing those peace officers with a history of poor performance or unethical behavior from taking advantage of police departments that lack the resources to investigate their employment history. He also passed a bill ensuring that effective pipeline safety standards are in place for all construction work around oil and gas pipelines).
Oddly, federal regulations already require quarterly meetings, however HHS-ORR’s director may exempt states from the requirement (Title 45: Public Welfare, 45 C.F.R. PART 400—Refugee Resettlement Program, § 400.5 Content of the plan). The mayor claims that quarterly meetings haven’t happened in over 20 years. Senator Seliger’s bill has the support of some local officials, including Amarillo’s mayor, as well as the superintendent of schools. As of today’s date the bill has been placed on the Texas Senate’s intent calendar.
If, however, the bulk of the refugees coming in are from secondary migration – refugees arriving under their own volition from their primary resettlement sites, then I don’t see how this bill or any other would stop that. People have the constitutional right to live wherever they chose (freedom of movement), and the other arriving refugees, for reunification with family, have the same right. Its only in the case of “free” cases (no geographical connections) that resettlement agencies and the State Department can chose where to direct them. But the State Department already restricted that as of 2013, so this bill will do nothing to prevent people from arriving to fill local job vacancies. Growing companies add to the local tax base; they need more employees, who in turn add to the tax base with their earnings and spending. That money is what needs to be used wisely for increasing public services to meet demand, rather than just scapegoating refugees. An article at KFDA ABC News Channel-10 explains current happenings:
Amarillo, TX – A new bill by a State Senator Kel Seliger …SB 1928 would allow local healthcare officials, school districts, and law enforcement to give feedback to the State Department about how many refugees our community can accept and reasonably deal with in the future. Under the bill, there would also be quarterly meetings on refugee placement with state and local officials – something Mayor Paul Harpole says hasn’t happened in over 20 years. The whole point of this bill is to get further input from people in the community rather than just the two resettlement agencies in Amarillo, Refugee Services of Texas and Catholic Family Charities… Many are in support of this new bill, including AISD’s superintendent Rod Schroder. “This is a good bill that will help the agencies who resettle refugees understand the issues and challenges our city faces,” said Schroder. He adds hopefully the city can play catch up with the refugees they have now… Read more here
Posted in Amarillo, Catholic Charities of the Texas Panhandle, legislation, moratorium / restriction / reduction, ORR, Refugee Services of Texas, school for refugee children, schools, secondary migration | Tagged: Amarillo, Catholic Charities of the Texas Panhandle, consultation, coordination, immigration, Kel Seliger, refugees, resettlement, restriction, Title 45 | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on April 17, 2015
On April 9 the HHS/ORR (Office of Refugee Resettlement) sent out a notice announcing the latest revolution of the revolving door between the private sector (resettlement contractors) and government agencies, such as the ORR and the State Department’s Office of Admissions — a new director for the ORR, the International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) vice president of resettlement and migration policy Bob Carey. Resettlement contractors in the US resettlement program such as the IRC, request and receive millions in federal government contracts to resettle refugees. In his role as IRC’s vice president Mr. Carey continually advocated for increased public funding for domestic refugee resettlement – a program to which contractors such as the IRC are supposedly required (an unenforced requirement) to bring significant private funding. Wouldn’t that mean, therefore, that they should be focusing on that task instead of spending significant time, energy and resources continually asking for increased government funding?
But this is not surprising in our government refugee resettlement program. With the contractors in charge of the government refugee agencies’ leadership we have a situation of regulatory capture. The regulated have moved in and taken over their government agency regulators. This is good for the private sector, but a pernicious arrangement for everyone else — mainly the refugees and the public. With the regulators taken out, the mice are free to play.
One of the bad effects is that these private groups are now able under-perform, even violate government contracts at will (the weak contracts they helped write), and face no consequences. An example is found in a question I submitted for the ORR’s interview with former IRC head George Rupp (a question which the ORR not surprisingly decided not to use):
“A 2007 State Department PRM monitoring report for the IRC office in Baltimore indicates that the IRC and another resettlement contractor frequently placed refugees into an East Baltimore apartment complex that had evidence of questionable maintenance and security standards (housing that is safe, sanitary, and in good repair is supposedly a State Department refugee contract requirement). Monitors also noted that the IRC had failed to give a three-member Meskhetian Turk refugee family a crib and other supplies for their infant son. I note, again, that these items are listed as “minimum” required items in the State Department contracts. Why does the IRC fail to meet so-called “minimum requirements” of their obligations to refugees in the public/private partnership?”
I wrote to Mr. Carey in a letter dated June 6, 2005 to ask about the IRC’s problems in refugee resettlement. Mr. Carey did not respond.
Posted in funding, IRC, ORR | Tagged: Bob Carey, director, immigration, International Rescue Committee, IRC, Office of Refugee Resettlement, ORR, refugees, regulatory capture, resettlement | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on April 4, 2015
A continuing series of violent assaults and break-ins are afflicting the refugee population in Buffalo, NY. These issues were already front and center four years when resettlement agencies attacked the messenger by criticizing filmmakers who helped bring forward the issues with a film. In 2012 the violence against the refugees continued. Now critics are saying that Buffalo police and city officials have been slow to respond to the challenges, including: language barriers, a lack of translators and refugees’ distrust of police related to abuse in their homelands. The issue of using refugees to counter population declines in troubled areas of the nation is also a central issue here. Dozens of frustrated Burmese have now gone public with their complaints this month at a Common Council meeting. An article in The Buffalo News tells more:
Other than the privacy curtain, it could pass for a hotel room. Clean and bright, there is a bedside table, a lamp, a bureau and a flat-screen TV. K’Paw Wah leaned back on his pillow…TV remote in hand, switched channels to a basketball game…
For most, it is a simple hand movement. For Wah – reed-thin, with stark cheekbones and flowing black hair – it is a triumph of will and spirit.
Only after laborious therapy has the Burmese immigrant of Karen ethnicity regained movement in his right arm. The comfortable room is not in a hotel, but in Terrace View nursing home near Erie County Medical Center. Wah has been hospitalized since a mugging last June left him paralyzed, a disheartening symbol of the assaults and break-ins afflicting the immigrant population on Buffalo’s West Side.
The county executive last week celebrated the recent influx of immigrants, which has staunched the county’s three-decade population bleed. The other side of the immigrant story is K’Paw Wah. He was born and raised in a Thai refugee camp, after his parents fled from oppressive Burmese rulers. He and his two daughters four years ago followed his older brother to Buffalo.
Wah’s dream of freedom ended violently. Heading home from a West Side convenience store late one night, he was jumped by at least two men with, he recalled, “their faces covered.” The attackers, Wah told me in halting but clear English, threw him hard to the ground, breaking his neck.
The thieves took his cellphone but, more than that, left him imprisoned in his body. Friends say he only recently regained movement in one arm and can stand at a walker while supported. Despite recent gains, he likely will always be physically dependent. No arrests have been made…
Wah’s fate is the grimmest reminder of the fragility of the immigrant population. Buffalo’s West Side is the end point for Burmese, Somalis, Burundi and other newcomers. Circumstances render them vulnerable and tough to protect. Language barriers, a lack of translators and a distrust of police related to abuse in their homeland contribute to their problems. Critics say police and city officials have been slow to respond to the challenge. Dozens of frustrated Burmese went public with their complaints this month at a Common Council meeting… Read more here
Posted in Buffalo, Burma/Myanmar, police, safety | Tagged: assaults, attacks, break-ins, Buffalo, Burmese, crime, immigration, police, population decline, public officials, refugees, resettlement | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on March 28, 2015
A Karen refugee family (from Myanmar/Burma via Thailand) in Albany, NY said they had complained to their landlord of smoke and a burning electrical smell. The landlord hired a handyman who replaced electrical outlets in the living room and in the parents’ bedroom, however, the family claim they saw burn marks on one of the electrical receptacles the handyman replaced. An outlet in the children’s bedroom was not replaced. A month later during the night of March 16th the children woke up to find flames engulfing their bedroom. The parents succeeded in getting all the children and the extended family out of the apartment. The landlord and his family in an upstairs apartment also escaped, and the house then burned to the ground. The fire destroyed all the family’s belongings, including a 19-year-old’s passport, other legal documents and $4,000 in cash he needed for a planned trip to Thailand to arrange his marriage to a woman in a refugee camp. The Albany Times-Union has the story:
Albany – The 9-year-old boy was awakened when it became uncomfortably hot as he slept, and his 7-year-old sister thought she was dreaming of bright orange shapes climbing up the bunk bed they shared.
By the time the wailing smoke alarm awakened their parents in an adjoining bedroom, flames had engulfed the bunk bed and were spreading across the children’s bedroom.
The 29-year-old mother scooped up the 2-year-old sleeping near her bed while her husband raced down the hall to guide their children and his wife’s brother and mother out of the smoke-filled apartment.
“Everything we owned was in there and now it’s gone,” said the woman…
All seven members of her Burmese refugee family escaped from the first-floor, two-bedroom apartment shortly after 11 p.m. on Monday [March 16] … in a row of two-family homes
The landlord and his family in the upstairs apartment also escaped from the conflagration that burned through the roof and destroyed the building.
All the belongings of the family — whose parents grew up in a refugee camp in Thailand before coming to Albany several years ago — were destroyed. The woman’s 19-year-old brother lost $4,000 in cash, his passport and other legal documents he needed for a planned Friday flight to Thailand to arrange his marriage to a woman in a refugee camp he hopes to bring to Albany…
They did not have renter’s insurance. [The woman] said she did not know what that is
[She] said she had complained to the landlord a month ago of smoke and a burning electrical smell. He hired a handyman who replaced electrical outlets in the living room and in the parents’ bedroom. The woman said she saw burn marks on one of the electrical receptacles that was replaced. The outlet in the children’s bedroom was not replaced…
Three firefighters were injured, none seriously, and are out of work…
On Wednesday afternoon, a large pile of rubble where the two-family home had been was covered with plastic tarps, which flapped in a cold wind… Read more here
Posted in Albany, apartment building fires, children, housing, Karen, USCRI | Tagged: Albany, apartment, Burma, immigration, Karen, landlord, Myanmar, refugees, resettlement | 6 Comments »
Posted by Christopher Coen on March 26, 2015
There is a serious problem in the US refugee program with elderly refugees becoming isolated soon after resettlement, eventually falling into ill health and ending up in emergency rooms while never having accessed preventative medical care. The causes include adult children being away from home most of the day working and long hours in transportation to and from work, as well as lack of English (and other refugee languages) and cultural knowledge that would allow successful integration into resettlement communities. Elderly refugees are similar to elderly people everywhere, finding it extremely difficult to learn a new language. Most are at a point in life when any change is difficult to cope with. In the US most do not understand how our systems work, including medical care systems. Not understanding how to partake in preventative care, many do not get any exercise which can lead to depression and a host of other physical health ailments. A new program in Colorado created by the Colorado Refugee Service Program and the Denver Regional Council of Governments is directly addressing this problem. An article in the Aurora Sentinel explains the program:
AURORA | Htoo Hay, 68, came to Colorado four years ago as a Burmese refugee…
Hay was one of five refugee seniors who swayed to the left and right, clapped and grinned as he took part in an hourlong Zumba class at the Aurora Center for Active Adults. The class, which started at the center a month ago, is held every Friday afternoon.
The class is part of a pilot program for refugee seniors that is a partnership between the Colorado Refugee Service Program and the Denver Regional Council of Governments. It’s open to any refugee resident in Aurora who is over 60 and wants to participate, and is funded through a $40,000 federal grant from the Office of Refugee Resettlement…
Clapping and shuffling next to Hay is Ka Paw Htoo, a community navigator with the Colorado African Organization who provided Htoo Hay’s transportation and helped him sign up for the class as part of the program. She is also a Burmese immigrant who lives in Aurora.
“Most of our old people, they’re staying home and without the exercise,” she said. “That’s why I want my community to come here and then (exercise) when they get older. Then you feel better.”…
The refugee senior program at Aurora’s senior center is not just a weekly Zumba class, according to Jill Eelkema, a counselor with DRCOG’s Area Agency on Aging, but also a way to introduce refugee residents to city resources.
“We see a lot of elder refugees who don’t utilize services until they’re in a dire situation and they end up in the emergency room, mostly because they don’t know the existing service systems that are available to support them in preventative care,” she said. “By starting this program, we decrease isolation and increase community connections.”
Through the program, refugee seniors, most of whom hail from Bhutan, Burma, Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia, are provided with free meals, transportation, a weight room, wellness clinics, and English as a second language classes…
For more information on the program, call 303-480-5634 or visit drcog.org/programs/area-agency-aging/elder-refugee-program Read more here
Posted in aurora, Colorado, Colorado Refugee Service Program, elderly refugees, health, language, mental health | Tagged: Colorado Refugee Service Program, Denver Regional Council of Governments, depression, elderly, English, exercise, health, immigration, language, older, refugees, resettlement | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on March 5, 2015
Refugee resettlement contractors World Relief and the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) are demanding religious exemption for the requirement that federally funded organizations that house unaccompanied migrant children provide victims of sexual abuse with “unimpeded access to emergency medical treatment, crisis intervention services, emergency contraception, and sexually transmitted infections prophylaxis, in accordance with professionally accepted standards of care, where appropriate under medical or mental health professional standards.” In an obvious abuse of religious exemption standards they claim that a mere referral to emergency contraception or related would offend their personal religious beliefs, nor should they have to notify federal agency personnel who could instead do the referral. Essentially they want to stand in the way of unaccompanied immigrant girls and prevent them from getting the pregnancy services they chose. This, while taking public funds for a public program to care for these girls. The USCCB had also wanted a federal grant to provide services to victims of human trafficking, while similarly denying the women and girls access to a full range of legally permissible gynecological and obstetric care. Thankfully the group did not get the grant. The details of this most recent religious exemption abuse are found in an article at Think Progress:
Estimates suggest that anywhere between 60 and 80 percent of migrant women and girls are raped on their journey as they travel across the southern United States border. But many of the organizations that provide medical care to these migrants are refusing to provide emergency contraception or make pregnancy-related referrals to girls who have been raped. What’s more, the religious organizations that operate these groups are opposing a move by the Obama administration to address epidemic rape of young unaccompanied migrants by requiring contraceptive care. During last year’s border surge, a total of 68,541 unaccompanied children streamed through the southern Texas border from Latin America. Almost half of the children apprehended by border patrol agents were girls. Rape and sexual assault are “major motivating factors” for why girls flee their home countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, a Women’s Refugee Commission report found last October. The report stated that children on the run who traveled with smuggling guides known as coyotes reported sexual abuse, including one child who “told of how women and girls were kept in a separate room and could be heard screaming while being raped.” And even once in the United States, some migrants alleged that sexual assault (especially among LGBT detainees) took place in detention, sometimes by guards. Those children may not receive adequate care after border patrol agents pass them onto group shelter homes, the majority of which are operated by faith-based organizations such as the Baptist Child and Family Services (BCFS), which received $190 million in a single grant last year. But it was the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), which received roughly $22.1 million, that sent a letter last week objecting to a Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA)regulation by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) that would require federally funded organizations that house unaccompanied migrant children to provide victims of sexual abuse with “unimpeded access to emergency medical treatment, crisis intervention services, emergency contraception, and sexually transmitted infections prophylaxis, in accordance with professionally accepted standards of care, where appropriate under medical or mental health professional standards.” The rule includes a clause that would allow faith-based organizations to offer external pregnancy-related referrals for unaccompanied children… Read more here
Posted in Catholic, children, churches, el salvadoran, faith-based, Guatemalan, honduran, ORR, safety, teenagers, teens, U.S. Customs & Border Protection, unaccompanied minors, USCCB, women, World Relief, young adults | Tagged: Baptist Child and Family Services, BCFS, minors, ORR, PREA, religious exemption, southern border, unaccompanied, us catholic conference of bishops, USCCB, World Relief | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on February 22, 2015
David Miliband the chief executive of the International Rescue Committee is calling on Arabian Gulf states to begin accepting Syrian refugees for resettlement. The UN has said 130,000 Syrians need to be resettled every year outside of the country. Miliband said there needs to be fair allocation among countries and that so far Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan that are bearing the brunt of refugees. I suspect he’s also referring to countries outside the region that have accepted Syrians for resettlement, although far short of the 120,000 per year. Countried accepting Syrian refugees include: Bulgaria 5000, Germany 18,000, Sweden 14,700 [U.S. News & World Report], and the US goal through fy2016 is 10,000. An article in the UAE’s The National explains:
DUBAI // A former British foreign minister has called on Arabian Gulf states to lead the world and take in Syrian refugees fleeing the country.
David Miliband, who is now chief executive of the International Rescue Committee, a charity committed to helping the most vulnerable, said the West had so far been poor at setting a good example on this front so there is a chance for Gulf countries to show their humanitarian prowess.
“The world beyond Syria needs to take its fair share of people leaving the country,” he said in an interview with The National. “Western countries have not been good at this so far.
“One of the things the Gulf could do is make a point here. The UN has said 130,000 Syrians need to be resettled every year outside of the country.
“That needs a fair allocation. At the moment that isn’t happening and, symbolically, that is damaging.
“It is very important that there remains an openness in the Gulf to help people who are trying to escape from their suffering. It can’t just be Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan that are bearing the brunt of refugees.”…
Mr Miliband was speaking ahead of a meeting in the UAE to encourage further financial support to help the relief effort for displaced Syrians…
The UN has said 250,000 people in besieged parts of Syria are completely cut off from aid, and six million are in need of humanitarian help…
“The UAE has the chance to be a leader in the humanitarian field in this area,” he said…
“The opportunity for the UAE, the state and the public, is to now make a difference. The needs are much greater than the traditional international system can meet.
“Different parts of the Gulf have made their financial contributions but, overall, it has to rise, and also [increase] from the West.”
Mr Miliband said it is important that Gulf countries play a central role in the politics of Syria, as it is in their own interest… Read more here
Posted in IRC, Syrian | Tagged: david miliband, gulf states, immigration, International Rescue Committee, IRC, refugees, resettlement, Syria, syrian, UAE | 1 Comment »