Friends of Refugees

A U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program Watchdog Group

Refugee Resettlement in Atlanta: Pros and Cons

Posted by Christopher Coen on May 4, 2013

PLR-Pro-Con

The Mayor of Clarkston and a World Relief Atlanta leader were recently interviewed about their positions on refugee resettlement in Clarkston, a small municipality nestled against Atlanta. The Mayor is in favor of refugee resettlement yet supported the recent state request to cut resettlement by 50 percent. He claims the city needed time breath and that things are now ten times better, yet the article cites no examples. He also refers to the years that the resettlement agencies did not communicate with the City. The World Relief Atlanta leader claims, improbably, that after just an first 90 days of refugee resettlement aid, refugees pay rent just like he did. A blog at the Atlanta Journal Constitution has the interviews:

Gov. Nathan Deal’s administration — citing state and local taxpayer costs — has asked the feds to substantially cut the number of refugees sent here from war-torn regions. Today, the mayor of Clarkston says he understands such a request, noting the strain on resources the new arrivals have created in that DeKalb County city…

…[Emanuel Ransom] is the Clarkston mayor, the first African-American to hold the post. Even though he has asked the federal government to curb the number of foreigners sent to the community, his opinion of the newcomers has changed. He simply wants Clarkston to be better prepared, to have adequate resources to address an earlier influx of refugees before new ones arrive…

Q: Why did the number of arrivals have to be curtailed?

A: The government was not giving the refugees already here time to assimilate to the lifestyle. The refugees would come to the city asking for resources, and we had no revenues. I asked the government to slow it down, to cut the faucet off so we could fix the pipe. Once you do that, we can put the water on and let it flow. Things have gotten 10 times better. This has given us a chance to breathe.

Q: How is the city’s relationship with the resettlement agencies?

A: We were having a problem with the city not being in communication with the resettlement agencies. Now, we are swapping resources back and forth with each other. It makes for a better relationship. I want the refugees to stay here, open businesses in Clarkston and raise their families…

Q: How has the slow-down affected Clarkston?

A: The infrastructure is stable. Cutting the flow is giving us a chance to breathe and concentrate on the refugees here, getting them to be self-sustaining people…

…Brian Bollinger is director of employment services for World Relief Atlanta.

Refugees who arrive legally to the United States are facing strong but quiet opposition from some Georgia politicians…

…As a full-time resettlement professional, you can assume I would disagree. But the reasons why a “conservative, evangelical Christian” like me would do so may surprise you. You might think I’d make an argument about economics, something about the reality that refugees are a net gain for the economy of Georgia. In my experience, refugees don’t “steal” jobs or perpetuate wage depression. Refugees fill jobs that, typically, American citizens will not consistently do at any wage — jobs that have not been eliminated by automation and require supervisors who are locals.

You might think that as a conservative, I’d be perturbed by “out-of-control” spending to care for refugees in Georgia. Let’s tone down the vitriol: Pointing the finger at U.N. refugees as a significant cause of budgetary woes is a straw-man tactic. It overlooks everyday governmental mismanagement you can read about in any town newspaper.

The average refugee who receives general government assistance spends six months on support before finding employment, versus more than 4.5 years for the average Georgian…

…I know that at the several dozen complexes where our refugees are placed, not a single one is subsidized housing. After an initial 90 days of refugee resettlement aid, they pay rent just like I did there… Read more here

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