Friends of Refugees

A U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program Watchdog Group

State Department Assistant Secretary of the PRM Bureau schmoozes with federal contractor friends

Posted by Christopher Coen on September 20, 2012

The Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, Anne C. Richard, has just released her remarks from the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s 2012 National Consultation. Aside from referring to the federal contractors in attendance as “friends”, a moniker that demonstrates a lack of oversight authority that the refugees and taxpayers would benefit from (one doesn’t really criticize friends after all), Richard ticked off State Department achievements of recent years. The doubling of the amount of money the State Department provides to help with the initial reception and placement of refugees was cited as the first achievement. This increase in funds, in part to the federal refugee contractors, was accompanied with not a single increase in the contractor’s responsibilities. Also mentioned is that the State Department will now guarantee refugee contractors a minimum amount of funding (this shows the power of the federal refugee contractors since the State Department refugee office has ignored our every request for additional assistance to refugees, such as requiring contractors to provide refugees with such additional minimum items as umbrellas, hangers, phones, dictionaries, and stamps & envelopes). Richard also mentions that the State Department has championed more consultation at the local level to make sure that they listen to local communities. Except, it was the State of Tennessee that championed this issue by passing a state law to require this. Richard’s remarks are found at the State Department website:

Thank you and good morning. It is an honor to be here and a pleasure to be among so many friends…

In traveling around the United States, I’ve heard from city and municipal leaders, employers, school officials and most importantly, from refugees themselves about their successes and concerns for the program…

I do want to quickly tick off some of the recent improvements made in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration to the resettlement program.

· In 2010, under my predecessor Eric Schwartz, and I think most of you know this by now, we doubled the amount of money we provide to help with the initial reception and placement of refugees.

· We’ve given partner agencies a guaranteed minimum amount of funding – what we call it floor funding – so that resettlement agencies can manage their workforce and provide quality reception and placement services to arriving refugees – even if a lower than expected number of refugees are admitted or if there are unavoidable delays in arrivals…

· At the local level, we’ve championed more consultation. We want to make sure that we listen to local communities that welcome refugees and provide the services needed for successful resettlement… Read more here

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5 Responses to “State Department Assistant Secretary of the PRM Bureau schmoozes with federal contractor friends”

  1. diana3211 said

    “Friends” get an increase in funding and a now a guaranteed minimum amount of funding, but the refugees’ concerns are not addressed. She claims she has heard from refugees themselves about concerns yet she doesn’t mention even one of those.

  2. Dini said

    Plus, the only refugees she would hear from are the ones selected by the resettlement agencies to take part in the discusion. There would not be any one there who disagreed with the agency.

  3. derrick333 said

    Refugee concerns include a lack of translated documents at the resettlement agencies, distant commutes to jobs far away, broken and missing household items and furniture, ESL classes at inconvenient times and no transportation to them, relatives losing custody of children so that resettlement agencies can enroll them in the unaccompanied minors program…etc. None of their concerns is discussed.

    • The Unaccompanied Refugee Minor program offers many economic advantages for young refugees, but yes, guardianship is put in the hands of the resettlement agency, even though the refugees remain with the refugee relatives who are not their biological parents but may have raised them from a young age.The issue I hear about is refugee teenagers in the program denied the ability to drive — and get to jobs — because the resettlement agency doesn’t want to be the target of a lawsuit in the case of an accident. The guardian issue also takes away a lot of power from the adult refugee relatives (who are essentially the kids’ parents) and places it all in the hands of the resettlement agencies.

  4. cory82 said

    Does the notion of friendship with contractors have something to do with the fact that there is no penalties for things such as putting refugees in slum apartments?

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