Friends of Refugees

A U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program Watchdog Group

Author Archive

Attempt to help hundred’s of unaccompanied minors avert deportation threatened

Posted by Christopher Coen on February 11, 2016

scam-beware

A dispute over an Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) contract for legal representation for 800 Central American unaccompanied minors seeking US asylum could mean the children will end up on deportation flights if the issue is not resolved. Unaccompanied minors who appear before a judge without an attorney are more likely to be ordered deported than those who have a lawyer. Two respected nonprofits, Americans for Immigrant Justice and Catholic Legal Services, that have provided legal services for thousands of Central American unaccompanied children for years recently had their ORR grant cut off. Together these two groups had 20 attorneys and eight paralegals working to help the children. In September, ORR awarded the contract to national resettlement agency USCRI and its Miami affiliate Youth Co-Op, Inc. The decision shocked people because Youth Co-Op had no immigration attorneys on its staff and has never provided legal services to immigrant children. The president and chief executive officer of USCRI, Lavinia Limón, once served as ORR director and USCRI’s senior vice president for global engagement, Eskinder Negash, is an immediate past director of ORR. After complaints about the contract reward ORR released a new request, with proposals due Dec. 23. A decision on a new contract is expected sometime this month. An article in The Miami Herald covers the story:

A contract dispute is threatening to disrupt efforts in Miami to provide legal representation to unaccompanied Central American children seeking U.S. asylum.

If not resolved, hundreds of children in immigration court proceedings could be forced to board deportation flights to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

The situation has sparked alarm among immigrant rights advocates, non-profit groups that assist the children and religious leaders including Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski… Read more here

Posted in children, court, funding, Guatemalan, Honduran, immigration services, Miami, Salvadoran, teens, USCRI, Youth Co-op, Inc. | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Jewish Family Services of Los Angeles disappoints

Posted by Christopher Coen on February 11, 2016

Inspection

Inspection

US Department of State monitors visited Jewish Family Services of Los Angeles in November 2013. They assessed the resettlement agency as only “partially compliant” with requirements. Documentation of services was so incomplete that monitors could not figure compliance or timely compliance with requirements. The affiliate had no structured training program for employees and did not use any volunteers to aid refugees. The program director demonstrated limited knowledge of how coordination of services for refugees occurs. Of the four refugee families visited by monitors, two did not receive all required furnishings. No members of the families visited were employed. None of the files reviewed documented help with enrollment in English language classes. All three files for families with school-aged children failed to document help with school enrollment. The following are excerpts from the inspection report:

Monitors found Jewish Family Services of Los Angeles (JFSLA) partially compliant with Reception and Placement Program (R&P) requirements. …case files and case note logs usually did not document dates of application or dates of assistance with access to services for which refugees were eligible. Therefore, monitors could not determine timely compliance with R&P requirements…. The affiliate does not have a structured training program.

The affiliate does not use volunteers to assist refugees with R&P activities…

…The program director does not attend [bi-monthly meetings of the Refugee Forum or the annual consultation with the state refugee coordinator] and has limited contact with other refugee service providers. She demonstrated limited knowledge of how coordination of services for refugees occurs…

Other than webinars, the case manager has received no formal training on R&P requirements or case management training. She demonstrated [only] a basic understanding of R&P requirements…

Monitors visited four refugee families who had arrived between July and September 2013. …monitors observed that two families did not have bed frames. …one refugee did not know how to contact emergency services. No members of the families visited were employed.

Monitors reviewed 20 case files. Monitors were not able to verify timely compliance with core service delivery because most case note logs did not document the date that refugees applied for public benefits, food stamps, social security cards or other services; the date refugees received assistance with access to English language programs or employment programs; the date refugees attended their health screenings; or the date children were enrolled in school.

None of the files reviewed documented assistance with enrollment in English language classes. Ten files failed to document application for public benefits and seven files did not document the application outcome or start date… All three files for families with school-aged children failed to document assistance with school enrollment… The three files pertaining to males between the ages of 18 and 26 did not document registration with selective service…

None of the families visited by monitors fully understood when their benefits would end… Read more here

Posted in Cooperative Agreement, employment services, employment/jobs for refugees, furnishings, lack of, HIAS, Iranian, Jewish, Jewish Family Services of Los Angeles, Los Angeles, Operational Guidance, R&P, school for refugee children, State Department | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

World Relief Garden Grove lets refugees down

Posted by Christopher Coen on February 10, 2016

report

US Department of State monitors visited World Relief Garden Grove in January 2014. They assessed the resettlement agency as only “partially compliant” with requirements. Services were so poorly recorded in many cases that monitors had no way to determine if services had been provided. Health screenings were late or not identified. Assistance with enrollment in employment services were not recorded in ten files. Assistance with applying for food stamps and cash assistance were not documented in five files. Assistance with enrollment in English language classes was not documented in seven files. Refugees were not assisted with registration for the Selective Service. One family told monitors they had not received any home visits by WR Garden Grove staff during the first ten weeks they spent in their US tie’s home, but were suddenly assisted by the affiliate to move to their new apartment ONE day before the monitors’ visit – a likely indication of cleaning up before an inspection. The following are excerpts from the full report:

Monitors found Catholic World Relief Garden Grove (WR) mostly partially compliant with Reception and Placement Program (R&P) requirements. …health assessments were late, home visits were not consistently documented, and there was no record of registration with Selective Service… Case files and financial records were not consistently organized and documentation was missing or incomplete. Case note logs were cursory and incomplete. Housing…affordability is a concern for the affiliate and refugees.

Monitors visited three refugee families and spoke by telephone with a fourth family who was unavailable for the scheduled visit due to a last minute medical emergency. The families arrived between August and December 2013… One family told monitors they had not received any home visits by WR Garden Grove staff during the first ten weeks they spent in their US tie’s home, but were assisted by the affiliate to move to their new apartment the day before the monitors’ visit…

Health screenings for three of the families were late, with no explanation in the files… Three of the families did not have service plans in the files. The age-appropriate male in one family did not know about the requirement to register for the Selective Service and the case file had no record of his being assisted with the requirement.

Monitors reviewed 21 case files… The files were not consistently well-organized and case notes varied widely. Many of the case notes were cursory or incomplete, lacked dates and follow-up, and did not provide a detailed record of core service delivery. Financial records were incomplete; some but not all expenditures were acknowledged by refugees. Health screenings were not identified in nine files and were late without explanation in three files. Assistance with enrollment I employment services were not recorded in ten files. Assistance with applying for food stamps and cash assistance were not documented in five files. Assistance with enrollment in English language classes was not documented in seven files… Copies of service plans were missing in nine files and incomplete in four files. First home visits were late in four files and not documented in four files. Second home visits were late in four files and not documented in eight files. In the two cases with males of military age, there was no record of assistance with registration for the Selective Service… Read more here

Posted in ESL & ELL, home visits, housing, overcrowding, insufficient assistance with daily tasks, Iranian, Iraqi, late health screenings, Los Angeles, Uncategorized, World Relief | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Texas again defeated in court – could thwart 30 Republican governors

Posted by Christopher Coen on February 9, 2016

Tx

Texas has been dealt a second stinging defeat in court after the state’s first attempt in December to scapegoat Syrian refugees for the terror they flee.  This cold have ramifications for the rest of the 30 Republican governors who joined in the attempt to discriminate against all Syrian refugees. Though the U.S. federal government has rigorous screening methods for all refugees, including additional procedures for Syrian and Iraqi refugees, and top security experts supported resettling the refugees, the governors disregarded the facts in order to scapegoat Syrian Muslim refugees during this election year. An article in The Jamestown Sun explains:

AUSTIN, Texas – A U.S. judge denied for the second time a request by Texas to bar relief agencies from bringing Syrian refugees into the state, a decision that could have a bearing on the attempts of 30 other governors to block refugees from their states.

U.S. District Judge David Godbey said the Republican leaders who have fought the resettlement have not shown Texas would suffer irreparable harm. The same judge rejected in December the state’s request for a restraining order saying the evidence presented was “largely speculative hearsay.”

“The Court does not deny that the Syrian refugees pose some risk. That would be foolish,” Godbey wrote in the decision. “In our country, however, it is the federal executive that is charged with assessing and mitigating that risk, not the states and not the courts”… Read more here

Posted in court, Muslim, right-wing, Syrian, Texas, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Refugee and Immigrant Assistance Center in Worcester only “partially compliant”

Posted by Christopher Coen on February 9, 2016

magnify

U.S. Department of State monitors visited the Refugee and Immigrant Assistance Center (RIAC) in Worcester in October 2013 and assessed the agency as only “ partially compliant” with requirements. Apparently, RIAC did not have to pay any fines or face other serious consequences for leaving refugees without needed services, as is typical. The agency failed to use proper interpretation, failed to use car safety seats when transporting small children, and apparently placed refugees in apartments with leaking ceilings and mice infestations. In another apartment, monitors observed a hole in the bathroom wall, a broken window, and closet door off its hinges. Two of the families visited were not provided bed frames for all the beds in the apartments. Read excerpts below from the monitoring report:

Monitors found Refugee and Immigrant Assistance Center (RIAC) of Worcester partially compliant with Reception and Placement Program (R&P) requirements. …appropriate language interpretation was not always used. Case files did not always contain complete public assistance and financial records. Three of the homes visited had rodent infestations and needed repairs. Refugee visits…the substance of these contacts was not always recorded in the case notes. The affiliate was not obeying local motor safety laws when transporting small children, and refugee minor files were incomplete…

Monitors visited four refugee families who arrived between March and June 2013. Two of the families visited did not receive appropriate interpretation when met at the airport…

Three out of the four apartments visited had mice infestations and bathrooms with several water-stained ceiling tiles. One family reported a leak in the bathroom ceiling, and the other two families stated the ceilings were already damaged when they moved into the apartments. One family reported that they do not feel safe in their neighborhood at night because they heard that a refugee had been robbed and beaten in the middle of the afternoon after cashing a check at a nearby bank… Another family reported that a broken kitchen chair was initially provided, and then discarded, and never replaced by the affiliate. In another apartment, monitors observed a hole in the bathroom wall, a broken window, and closet door off its hinges. Two of the families visited were not provided bed frames for all of the beds in the apartments and a view of their case files showed no reasons given for their absence.

Although case file reviews indicated that all refugees were given orientation by the affiliate, two families reported that they only received orientation about life in the U.S. when they were still overseas, and a third family stated that the U.S. tie who accompanied them to the orientation was not sufficiently fluent in English to interpret and that appropriate language interpretation was provided by RIAC. [Only] two families visited had members who were able to recount some orientation topics.

…The two families with small children reported that the affiliate did not use car seats when transporting their children in motor vehicles…

A single mother with a disabled son became emotional during the monitors’ visit…the refugee and RIAC staff told monitors that they often communicated with each other in English, which the refugee does not fully understand, or relied on one of her children, also not fluent in English, to interpret.

No case files contained documentation that refugees understood key orientation objectives… Read more here

Posted in beds, children, community/cultural orientation, Cooperative Agreement, crime, dangerous neighborhoods, disabled refugees, ECDC, employment services, employment/jobs for refugees, furnishings, lack of, household items, missing or broken, housing, housing, substandard, Iraqi, language interpretation/translation, lack of, Nepali Bhutanese, rats and roaches, Refugee and Immigrant Assistance Center (Boston), State Department, Worcester | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Catholic Charities San Bernardino out of compliance

Posted by Christopher Coen on February 8, 2016

graphic - refugee security clearance

A 2014 inspection report for Catholic Charities San Bernardino reveals that the resettlement agency violated many requirements of their State Department resettlement contracts. The State Department rated the agency as only “partially compliant” with requirements. Staff had poor understanding of the Cooperative Agreement, refugees had not received vaccinations or health screenings, and none of the refugees was employed. The affiliate did not help refugees enroll in English Language programs nor employment services, nor register with Selective Service. Read more below:

Monitors found Catholic Charities San Bernardino (CCSB) partially compliant with Reception and Placement Program (R&P) requirements…

Monitors interviewed the resettlement director and the part-time case manager. Although the resettlement director has supervised R&P activities for ten years, she had only a basic understanding of Cooperative Agreement requirements and reported limited oversight of R&P activities. The case manager, who has worked with the affiliate for six months, was not familiar with the Cooperative Agreement, and has limited understanding of R&P requirements…

Monitors visited four refugee families who arrived between August and November 2013…

Three out of four families had not received vaccinations or completed their health screenings. No members of the families visited were employed, and all families reported they were not receiving assistance with an employment search from the county Department of Social Services. Monitors visited two families with children under the age of five years of age and one was not receiving WIC benefits. Refugees visited who did not speak English told monitors that affiliate staff did not assist them to enroll in English language programs.

Monitors reviewed 20 case files…

None of the four case files pertaining to males between the ages of 18 and 26 documented registration with Selective Service within 30 days of arrival. None of the files reviewed documented assistance with enrollment in English language programs or employment services… Read more here

Posted in Afghan, Catholic Charities San Bernardino, Cooperative Agreement, employment services, employment/jobs for refugees, health, Iraqi, late health screenings, men, San Bernardino, USCCB | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

South Dakota legislature moves forward with unconstitutional bill

Posted by Christopher Coen on February 7, 2016

Governor vows not to sign bill if it passes

unconstitutional

A South Dakota house bill that would scapegoat refugees by empowering the governor to close the state to incoming refugees has been described as unconstitutional by a law professor, a political science professor and Gov. Dennis Daugaard.  A state legislator claims terrorists will try to blend in with Syrian refugees. Yet, the federal government has a rigorous screening process to prevent that. The Migration Policy Institute points out that of the 784,000 refugees resettled in the U.S. since September 11, 2001, only three have been arrested for planning acts of terrorism, none of which were actually carried out. An article in The Rapid City Journal explains:

South Dakota House Bill 1158, whose goal is to empower the governor to close the state to incoming refugees, has been described as unconstitutional by a law professor, a political science professor and Gov. Dennis Daugaard, the man to whom the power to close the borders would be granted.

Even the sponsor of the bill, a Rapid City Republican lawmaker and Christian pastor, acknowledges that HB 1158 might not withstand a constitutional challenge…

A report released last October by the Migration Policy Institute, an independent, nonpartisan Washington, D.C.-based think tank, revealed that of the 784,000 refugees resettled in the U.S. since September 11, 2001, only three have been arrested for planning acts of terrorism, none of which were actually carried out.

“Actual acts of terrorism by a refugee?” law professor Stephen Legomsky said. “I don’t think there’s been a single one”…

Legomsky, the law professor from St. Louis, is unequivocal: “As a legal matter, the state cannot unilaterally amend the U.S. Constitution.”

The passage of the Refugee Act of 1980 made the federal government the pre-eminent authority of refugee resettlement within the states. The act established the refugee admissions program, which today draws from nine different agencies for the resettlement of refugees in states of the federal government’s choosing.

“It seems pretty clear,” said Elizabeth Smith, an associate professor of political science at the University of South Dakota, “that states don’t have the power to control who settles within their borders. The federal government has authority over U.S. borders, not the states”… Read more here

Posted in legislation, Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota, moratorium / restriction / reduction, right-wing, security/terrorism, South Dakota, Syrian, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Catholic Charities of Orange County broke almost every rule in the book

Posted by Christopher Coen on February 6, 2016

magnifying_glass_clip_art_23181

Perusing a batch of US Department of State inspection reports recently received through a FOIA request it appears that Catholic Charities of Orange County (CCOC) violated most of the requirements of their refugee resettlement contract. The State Department rated the agency [in 2014] as “mostly non-compliant” with requirements. CCOC left refugees with urgent medical issues on their own to find expedited medical care.  Children were not enrolled in school.  A refugee family was in an apartment that was unsafe and unsanitary. CCOC had refugees sign blank service plans; apparently to be filled in later. Staff did not understand the basics of the refugee grant requirements, and expected refugees’ ties [friends or family members that refugees have been resettled to live near] to provide basic services. A case manager did not even know of the existence of the Cooperative Agreement. CCOC did not have any volunteers to help assist refugees. Read below excepts from the report:

Monitors found Catholic Charities of Orange County (CCOC) mostly non-compliant with Reception and Placement Program (R&P) requirements…

The affiliate does not use any volunteers…

…monitors visited one family whose children were not yet enrolled in school after over two months; another family who did not receive any assistance from the affiliate to make expedited medical appointments despite a child with epilepsy and a parent with heart disease (they complained to monitors that the affiliate showed little concern for their well-being); and a third family who described the apartment the affiliate secured for them as unsafe and unsanitary. Refugees visited did not recall receiving any [cultural] orientation and staff did not demonstrate a basic understanding of Cooperative Agreement requirements, and implied basic needs support and core service delivery was the responsibility of the US tie…

One refugee family [mentioned above] told monitors that they felt unsafe in the apartment the affiliate found for them after their US tie could no longer provide any assistance. They said homeless people often loitered on the front steps and neighbors often acted loud and drunk; consequently the father did not feel safe leaving his wife and young children alone during the day to look for work. The apartment had a clogged drain in the kitchen sink, a flickering overhead fluorescent light, and a purported insect infestation; all had been reported to the landlord [apparently to no effect]. The couple and their baby and toddler shared one small bedroom that scarcely fit a full size bed and a crib…the family have arrived close to three months before the monitors’ visit and was not enrolled in the Women’s, Infants, and Children (WIC) program…

Monitors reviewed 20 case files…case files did not contain evidence beyond a referral that the affiliate assisted refugees with enrollment in English language programs or employment services within ten working days of arrival. Eight files indicated that health assessments occurred beyond the required 30 days, and two files did not contain any evidence of a health screening…

Complete service plans were found in all but two files, which contained blank plans signed by the refugee… Read more here

Posted in beds, California, Catholic, Catholic Charities of Orange County, children, community/cultural orientation, Cooperative Agreement, dangerous neighborhoods, failure to enroll refugee children in school, furnishings, lack of, health, home visits, housing, housing, overcrowding, housing, substandard, Iranian, Iraqi, language interpretation/translation, lack of, late health screenings, medical care, rats and roaches, safety, Slumlords, volunteers | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Alabama governor splurges on useless $150 thousand legal agreement

Posted by Christopher Coen on February 5, 2016

cash-mountain

Although state governors have no authority to stop resettlement of Syrian refugees because the federal government has sole authority when placing refugees, and there is no law or agreement that would permit a state to prevent refugees from particular countries from participation in the resettlement program, Alabama’s Republican Gov. Robert Bentley has now, nonetheless, inked an $150 legal agreement to oppose refugee resettlement. Bentley now claims that the federal government failed to provide the state with “sufficient information” about refugees who have settled or will be settled in the state. Florida’s Republican governor was caught saying the same thing but refused to answer if he had requested any information. An article at The Decatur Daily has the latest:

MONTGOMERY — Gov. Robert Bentley’s office has a $150,000 contract with the outside attorney assisting in his lawsuit against the federal government over the placement of refugees in the state.

In January, Bentley’s administration filed a lawsuit saying the federal government is not complying with the Refugee Act of 1980.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court, states the U.S. government failed to provide the state with sufficient information about refugees who have settled or will be settled in the state. It claims the state has been denied a meaningful role and input into the refugee resettlement process… Read more here

Posted in Georgia, right-wing, Syrian, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Attacks on refugees in Syracuse delivered with racial slurs

Posted by Christopher Coen on February 4, 2016

chinese
As part of the ongoing attacks on refugees in Syracuse that resettlement agencies and the US State Department have know about for at least six years, refugees say that attackers are using racial slurs. An article at Time Warner Cable News has the details:

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Nancy Ayea was resettled in Syracuse as a refugee from Burma, looking for a better life. But there have been obstacles to starting over.

“Our house got broken into and our window got broke into,” said Ayea. “And they took whatever they could find to resell it. My laptop and all that.”

And although she’s not a refugee herself, Kayla Kelechin’s husband was resettled from Southeast Asia. She says she and her husband have been victimized because of his background.

“There were stones being thrown through our windows,” said Kelechin. “We see them coming to our yard and attacking our children. They’ve thrown stones at our children and they’re like “Chinese, Chinese.” It always has to do with a racial slur. So we know it’s not the whole neighborhood — it’s us”… Read more here

Posted in abuse, Burma/Myanmar, Catholic, children, crime, dangerous neighborhoods, hate crimes, Nepali Bhutanese, safety, Syracuse | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 319 other followers