Archive for the ‘funding’ Category
Posted by Christopher Coen on November 25, 2013
Conservative state lawmakers in Tennessee ordered a state government study on the economics of refugee resettlement in the state. Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, admits that a major impetus for the study was to tease out whether refugees are more likely to rely on government assistance. Yet the report produced suggests that refugees contributed almost twice as much in tax revenues as they consumed in state-funded services in the past two decades. An article in The Tennessean reports on the results of the study:
A new study of foreign-born refugees who live in Tennessee has found they contributed almost twice as much in tax revenues as they consumed in state-funded services in the past two decades.
But limitations of the study — an unprecedented research effort by the state — left the state lawmakers who asked for it with questions on Tuesday…
Researchers with the legislature’s Fiscal Review Committee reported a number of first-time findings about refugees in the state. Their report estimates some 57,000 refugees live in Tennessee, a number that has doubled since 1990 but which still represents less than 1 percent of the population.
Making “conservative estimates,” researchers said that since 1990, the state has spent $753 million on services for refugees — including for schooling and health care — and received almost twice as much, $1.3 billion, in tax revenues from them…
Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, said a major impetus for the study was to tease out whether refugees are more likely to rely on government assistance… Read more here
Posted in funding, Tennessee | Tagged: employment, immigration, public assistance, refugees, resettlement, Study, taxes, Tennessee | 1 Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on October 19, 2013
Although the federal government shutdown has now ended, refugee resettlement won’t restart until at least Oct. 28. Complex approval, documentation and travel logistics will also delay many refugee arrivals for months. Some refugees may be required to reapply for medical approvals or security clearances that are good for a limited time, and depending on the country, refugees also may have to reapply for exit visas. An article in USAToday explains:
…roughly 4,500 refugees who had been cleared to come to the United States in October — including 73 heading for Kentucky — but now face delays that resettlement officials say may take months for some to resolve…
Now more than 2 weeks old, the shutdown forced the U.S. State Department to suspend most refugee arrivals and enact a travel moratorium, partly because the financial, medical and federal benefits or services aren’t available in some areas to help newcomers from Somalia, Iraq, Myanmar, Bhutan and a host of other countries, officials said.
Although most expect Congress to reach an agreement to reopen the government, resettlement won’t restart until at least Oct. 28 — and even then, the shutdown’s cascading effect on complex approval, documentation and travel logistics will delay many arrivals for months.
Nowhere to go
…Some may be required to reapply for medical approvals or security clearances that are good for a limited time — and depending on the country, refugees also may have to reapply for exit visas, including Burmese leaving Thai refugee camps…
The shutdown came just as the government was set to begin admitting 70,000 refugees for the coming federal fiscal year, said Cindy Jensen, director of resettlement with the International Rescue Committee. The moratorium was first extended to Oct. 21, and then again to Oct. 28.
A State Department official said the move was meant to ensure refugees receive proper support when they arrive but acknowledged it had left thousands of people “sitting in limbo.”
The government is allowing those who are seen as being at high risk to continue to arrive, such as Iraqi refugees who helped the United States during the war.
Church World Service, one of a handful of federally approved resettlement agencies, reported that nearly half of the refugees under its authority, initially cleared for travel in October, will be delayed as long as three months…
…Kentucky Refugee Ministries, which operates on a tight budget, is having to use reserves to continue to pay caseworkers and provide services, partly because the shutdown has kept the agency from getting the federal reimbursement of $750 per arrival budgeted for October… Read more here
Posted in Catholic Charities of Louisville Inc., Congress, CWS, funding, IRC, Louisville, moratorium / restriction / reduction | Tagged: catholic charities, federal government, immigration, IRC, Kentucky, Louisville, moratorium, refugees, resettlement, security clearances, shut down | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on August 31, 2013
Glass half full/half empty
Tennessee Republican lawmakers are again raising concerns about the cost of letting refugees resettle to the state. They are questioning costs to the state for refugee participation in TennCare, languages services in public schools and public housing are asking for a comprehensive fiscal study of the state’s participation in the federal Refugee Resettlement Program. Refugee advocates point out the positive economic impacts (refugees take jobs many Americans do not want and their employment and buy of homes, cars, etc. expands the tax base) and question the motives of singling out refugees. A recent article in The Tennessean covers the issue:
Republican lawmakers are raising concerns about the cost of letting foreign-born refugees resettle here, an exercise that has immigrant advocates questioning their motives.
The Tennessee General Assembly’s newly created Joint Government Operations Legislative Advisory Committee agreed on Wednesday to begin a comprehensive fiscal study of the state’s participation in the federal Refugee Resettlement Program.
The program, in which Tennessee and 48 other states are partners, provides refugees new to the United States a range of placement, health and employment services. Its budget for Tennessee, $8.9 million last year, comes solely from the federal government.
But Tennessee Republicans are pointing to other, indirect state taxpayer costs associated with the arrival of refugees: their participation in TennCare, languages services in public schools and public housing…
Tennessee’s refugee population has risen in recent years, with [approximately] 1,500 arriving last year, mostly moving to the state’s largest cities, especially Nashville, according to Catholic Charities.
“There is a substantial cost to this state for this program,” said Don Barnett, a fellow for the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for less immigration to the United States. “TennCare is one cost but not the only.”
Immigrant advocates, who stressed that refugees also offer positive economic impacts to their communities, questioned the motives of singling out refugees.
“Why are we asking this very narrow question?” said Stephen Fotopulos, executive director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, noting that refugees made up less than 1 percent of the state’s new residents each year… Read more here
Posted in capacity, Catholic Charities of Tennessee, education, funding, health, moratorium / restriction / reduction, right-wing, Tennessee | Tagged: Don Barnett, Joint Government Operations Legislative Advisory Committee, legislature, positive economic impacts, refugees, Republican, resettlement, Stephen Fotopulos, taxes, Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on July 5, 2013
Due to sequestration (Congress couldn’t agree on a federal budget, initiating an automatic 5 percent spending cut) more resettlement agencies have felt the effects of the federal funding cuts. The Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees in Utica, NY lost funding for domestic violence and interpretation services. The Utica Observer-Dispatch has more:
A lack of federal funding is causing cuts at the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees.
Two directors in charge of the center’s domestic violence and Compass Cultural Institute interpretation programs were laid off about a month ago, along with a full-time administrator and an interpreter, said Shelly Callahan, the center’s executive director.
Though a managing director of Compass is taking over for her predecessor, Callahan said the domestic violence program essentially is gone…
“It’s just generally frustrating,” said Callahan, who pointed to federal sequestration cuts. “These are people that have expertise in what they’re doing and they’re really good at their job.”
Tracy Davis, director of finance and administration, said about 60 percent of the center’s budget comes from federal funding…
In general, the center’s budget has decreased. This year’s budget – the fiscal year runs from March 1 through Feb. 28 – is $2.3 million, down from $2.6 million last year…
Roberto Ponce, director of communications for the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, offered this statement about centers nationwide seeing cuts on the federal level: “We would assume that it would have to do with the sequestration. We’re seeing the results of that.”
To fill in the service-related gaps, Callahan said the center will continue to do less with more and still refer refugees and immigrants to other organizations in the area, such as the YMCA for domestic violence victims. She said, however, those groups do not have the same cultural competency as the center does… Read more here
Posted in funding, language interpretation/translation, lack of, Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees, Utica | Tagged: budget cuts, domestic violence, interpretation, Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees, refugees, resettlement, sequestration, Utica | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on June 24, 2013
The federal budget impasse brought on by Republican obstructionism led to a 5 percent, across-the-board spending cut by federal agencies beginning in March. The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR – in the US Dept. of Health & Human Services) then had to decide how it would apportion the cut. Apparently one of the ORR’s refugee resettlement programs they thought should be the first to cut is the Matching Grant Program. That is the program in which highly employable refugees receive extra services to help get them into jobs right away while staying off of public assistance. The program brings in a lot of federal money to the private resettlement contractors in return for plain little effort by those groups. Without it the refugees can still access employment services via ORR’s employment services program grants to the resettlement contractors. An article at KPBS Radio explains:
Across-the-board federal budget cuts are being felt…by resettlement agencies and the refugees they help.
…refugee service providers are beginning to feel the pinch of sequestration. The 5 percent, across-the-board spending cuts went into effect in March, slicing into federal spending by the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement.
…that means organizations that smooth the transition for refugees have less money to help them find work.
[In San Diego] Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement Director Michael McKay said his organization has lost about $15,000 for a program that places refugees into jobs within four months of arrival. It matches federal dollars with local funds to cover caseworkers and programming that get refugees into the workforce, usually in San Diego’s hospitality industry.
McKay said the $15,000 would put about seven people through the program… Read more here
Posted in Catholic Charities of San Diego, funding, Matching Grant program, ORR, San Diego | Tagged: 5%, cuts, funding, Matching grant, Office of Refugee Resettlement, ORR, refugees, resettlement, San Diego, sequestration | 2 Comments »
Posted by Christopher Coen on April 29, 2013
The U.S. State Department has not responded to many questions posed by a media outlet in Athens, Georgia which has looked at the refugee resettlement program, though a recent article by the newspaper is pro-resettlement. The state government claims refugees are undue burden on limited state resources. Resettlement agencies claim refugees pay taxes, buy homes, and support education, and invest in their communities. They also claim that fewer refugees allowed to resettle in the state this year has resulted in a reduction in services to refugees already here. In the meantime resettlement agencies have also been making a late attempt to spread refugees out to other parts of metro-Atlanta and the state so as not to overburden local resettlement sites. An article in the Athens Banner-Herald discusses these and other related issues:
…Resettlement agencies prefer to place new refugees close to family or existing ethnic communities to ease the transition to life in the U.S. Family ties and communities are often bundled around resources – agency offices, English language classes, jobs – necessary to acclimation.
…the Georgia Department of Human Services to ask for a reduction of refugees coming to the state in 2013, citing school district budget shortfalls, and health and safety concerns. The U.S. Department of State would not confirm if other states had made similar requests.
“We regularly receive feedback from stakeholders involved in the refugee resettlement process and take those into account as we finalize the placement plan for the upcoming year,” wrote state department spokesperson Laura Seal in an email.
The department declined to say how regularly these adjustments are made.
Georgia is home to the seventh largest refugee population in the country. Media reports have not listed other states as requesting reductions.
Georgia’s rationale for the cuts doesn’t hold water, according to the agencies that support resettlement. Problems allegedly caused by refugees often are bottled in DeKalb and Fulton counties. But the impact of the cuts has impacted services to refugees throughout the state, refugee advocates said, and has strained the state and agency relationship supposed to benefit refugees…
…In August, just after refugee agencies submitted their annual capacity proposal to the U.S. State Department, a number it uses to determine refugee placement in Georgia, DHS sent a letter to the federal agency requesting a 50 percent reduction in refugee resettlings in the state.
The reduction, in effect, ended up closer to 20 percent, though an examination of arrivals in the first two quarters of 2013 shows no sign of abatement. The reduction lowered the maximum amount of refugees coming to the state, potentially with little impact on overall arrivals, but directly impacted the budgets of aid agencies, which receive federal funding based on the number of expected resettlements…
…[state officials have complained that refugees have incurred costs the state can’t handle, yet] Repeated requests for detailed information on costs incurred by refugees went unfilled by the Georgia DHS. A February article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted a state official estimating the cost at $6.7 million, an amount that included education costs… Read more here
Posted in capacity, funding, Georgia, moratorium / restriction / reduction, Office of Admissions, openess and transparency in government, Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services of Atlanta (RRISA), Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services of Atlanta (RRISA) | Tagged: Athens, Coalition of Refugee Service Agencies, CRSA, georgia, IRC, refugee family services, refugees, resettlement, RRISA, World Relief | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on April 5, 2013
A group of nonprofit organizations in Buffalo, while admitting there are too many of them claim they are saving taxpayers $200 million per year through a variety of activities. One of the numerous local refugee resettlement agencies, Jewish Family Services of Buffalo and Erie County, claims it saves the taxpayer $2 million per year. The figures are based on a study by the group of nonprofits, the Agency Executives Association, which uses funny math to come up with the Jewish Family Services numbers. They claim that the 2008 LIRS cost analysis study (see our analysis here at D.5) of refugee resettlement claimed that expenditures per refugee was $3,480 per month. It wasn’t. It was $3,492 based on the first three months in the US per refugee case (a case could be a refugee family). Then, they don’t bother to subtract the amount that the government covers, e.g. the State Department contract money for initial resettlement. Instead, they give Jewish Family Services credit for paying all costs. An article at The Buffalo News has the story with claims based on these bizarre calculations:
Would you invest $1 to save $11?
That’s the return rate for tax dollars spent on a variety of services provided by area nonprofit agencies, according to a new study by a local group of nonprofit executives.
The study by the Agency Executives Association examined programs at two dozen area agencies to come up with its government savings estimates…
Taxpayers also save through services that reduce the number of kids who end up in juvenile detention and that move people from welfare into jobs…
The AEA, an affiliate of the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County, represents 142 nonprofit agencies.
Looking at programs run by 24 area agencies, the study found that taxpayers save an estimated $200 million per year.
Some other nonprofits in the report included… Jewish Family Services…
Jewish Family Services’ refugee resettlement program, which costs $333,812 for 150 refugees, is estimated to save the government $2.5 million. Compass House provides shelter for 307 young people at a cost of $520,590, saving an estimated $10.9 million – the expense of housing those youth in a detention facility for a year.
The programs represent a broad cross section of services provided by an estimated 6,000 nonprofit organizations. Nearly 300 of those agencies operate with revenues of more than $1 million, generating a local economic impact of $2.7 billion.
“The whole intent was not to produce a definitive study on the issue. The whole intent was to begin the discussion,” said Paul C. Atkinson, chief executive officer and president of Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo and president of the AEA…
Atkinson acknowledged – as many funders have argued in the past – that the area probably has too many nonprofit organizations.
But an appropriate discussion should be held to determine adequate funding levels and to find agencies and programs that can deliver services most effectively and efficiently, he said… Read more here
Posted in funding, Jewish Family Service of Buffalo & Erie County | Tagged: Buffalo, government program, nonprofits, refugees, resettlement, savings, spending, taxpayers | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on March 16, 2013
Ephraim Assefa arrived in Chicago as an Ethiopian refugee almost eight years ago. Today he is the one helping refugees adapt to their new life in the United States, working as the case manager at the Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago.
The Ethiopian association is one of the refugee resettlement agencies in Illinois, which are struggling under a triple burden as the number of refugees steadily climbs: large cuts in federal funding, a greater range of native languages among refugees and the recession
“There are a lot of challenges,” Assefa said. “In terms of communications, refugees have a language barrier and secondly, because of a high level of education or the economic situation, getting employment is currently a challenge.”
Illinois has received about 23,220 refugees from 66 countries since 2000, and the flow has steadily increased since 2006, according to data of refugee arrivals in Illinois from the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement… Read more here
The article talks about refugee resettlement agencies “struggling under a triple burden as the number of refugees steadily climbs: large cuts in federal funding, a greater range of native languages among refugees and the recession.” What large cuts – the cuts that may occur if Congress doesn’t address required spending cuts? That’s an if not a current fact.
While its true that refugees are speaking a greater range of languages now, that’s primarily the case for refugees from Africa and Burma/Myanmar. A caption for one of the article’s photos indicates that, “In fiscal year 2012, the top three countries of origin for refugees were Bhutan, Burma and Iraq, and these are expected to be the top three in fiscal year 2013 in the U.S and in Illinois.” Yet, Iraq and Bhutan produced refugees who mostly speak a single language. Arabic in the case of the Iraqis and Nepali in the case of the Nepali-Bhutanese. I think our refugee program got used to the large number of refugees that came from the former Soviet Union in the 1990′s, in which case there was not as much language variation, Russian being the language most of them were fluent in.
Illinois’ state refugee director Edwin Silverman claims that “the subsidies resettlement agencies provide refugees is the only financial resource for those who can’t find work. The recession means those who are looking for a job rely on these subsidies for a longer period than in the past, Silverman said.” Well no. The refugee resettlement grants derive from the US federal government and funds delineated directly for the refugees are merely passed through the resettlement agencies. Refugees also qualify for all public assistance – therefore the refugee resettlement grants are not the only financial resource.
Silverman also claims that, “in addition to providing resettlement service, the resettlement agencies have had to be in a constant process of fund-raising from the private sector, to assure that refugees can pay their rent and don’t go homeless.” I guess my question is why weren’t the resettlement agencies always doing that? There are many more needs that refugees have then just those that the federal government provides for financially with the seed money they gave to resettlement agencies. In the case of the national refugee resettlement agencies they are still almost completely subsidized by the US government.
Posted in Boise, Chicago, employment/jobs for refugees, Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago, funding, Illinois, IRC, language, professionals, RefugeeONE (formerly, Interfaith Refugee & Immigration Ministries), World Relief | Tagged: Chicago, Edwin Silverman, employment, funding, RefugeeOne, refugees, resettlement, World Relief | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on September 25, 2012
U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., has introduced legislation to alter certain aspects of the US refugee resettlement program. The “Strengthening Refugee Resettlement Act” would get refugees started on learning English and workforce skills while they are still overseas, and would apparently streamline processing for medical and security clearances. Refugees would also be admitted to the United States as lawful permanent residents, instead of requiring the current one year wait. The bill also would supposedly expand federal coverage for a range of programs in employment, housing and health care for refugees. Rep. Keith Ellison’s website does not show any of the text of the bill. An editorial in the Star Tribune trumpets the bill:
Tens of thousands of refugee immigrants come to America every year. And in many cases local communities where they settle struggle to meet their needs because of limited resources.
That’s why recently proposed federal legislation deserves support. Introduced last week by U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the “Strengthening Refugee Resettlement Act” would reform both the pre- and post-arrival processing of refugees. It would get immigrants started on learning English and workforce skills while they are still overseas and would begin medical and security clearances.
Such immigrants would be admitted to the United States as lawful permanent residents, saving government resources.
The bill also would expand federal help to support a range of programs in employment, housing and health care available to immigrants once they arrive. That would make more funds available to states like Minnesota — with one of the largest per capita populations of refugees in the nation. Between 1999 and 2007 over 34,000 refugees were resettled in Minnesota…
Such advance preparation can connect refugee immigrants to the services they need and integrate them into their new communities more quickly. The faster they learn English and find jobs and housing, the sooner they can do without government assistance… Read more here
Posted in Congress, education, funding, legislation | Tagged: Keith Ellison, legislation, permanent residents, refugees, resettlement, security clearances, Strengthening Refugee Resettlement Act | 1 Comment »