Friends of Refugees

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Archive for the ‘funding’ Category

Waterloo refugee resettlement office not to close as said

Posted by Christopher Coen on March 16, 2014

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The USCRI (U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants) has announced that its local refugee resettlement office will not close after all when its federal grant runs out. The leadership has instead chosen to keep the office open on a part-time basis. About 1,200 Burmese refugees – attracted to the area by meatpacking jobs – who now make Waterloo their home will have ongoing assistance with interpretation/translation, tax preparation and other needs. An article at KCRG explains:

WATERLOO, Iowa – …

…On Wednesday night, volunteers worked with a handful of newer residents in Waterloo who have escaped persecution in Myanmar… At least 1,200 Burmese refugees now call Waterloo home…

In late February, [Ann Grove, lead case manager of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants office in Waterloo] said the federal funding for the USCRI office to help Burmese refugees in Black Hawk County was running out. Yet, on Tuesday, the office announced the USCRI’s leadership has chosen to keep the office open on a part-time basis.

“It gives us an opportunity to continue providing for the immediate needs of clients who are in town,” said Grove.

With the federal grant now expired, the office may have to depend on the continued involvement of volunteers… Read more here

Posted in Burma/Myanmar, funding, meatpacking industry, USCRI | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Planning for Wyoming refugee resettlement

Posted by Christopher Coen on March 14, 2014

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Wyoming is the only one of the 50 states that does not have refugee resettlement. That may soon change as advocates work on a draft plan for refugee resettlement in the state. The governor has already come out in support of the idea. Newspaper editorial boards are also supporting the soon-to-be draft plan, citing the central humanitarian nature of the program. One editorial, however, is claiming that the program would require no state government spending, an assertion which seems improbable. A recent analysis of refugee resettlement in Georgia found that the state government there spent an estimated $6.7 million in state and local taxpayer costs on resettlement in fiscal year 2011 (costs for public schools, child care and other expenses), although while receiving $10 million from the federal government for resettlement, much of it paid out to local businesses in the state, and reaping an untold in tax money and earning put back into the system by resettled refugees for purchases of cars, homes and other items and services. The paper also claims that there are standards and an accountability system. We know, however, that those are extremely lax and allow private resettlement agencies to essentially police themselves – a regulatory and oversight model that just does not work in business. An editorial in the Casper Star-Tribune discusses the proposed resettlement program:

…Wyoming is the only one of the 50 states without a refugee resettlement program…

Wyoming must do more to welcome refugees. They are looking to escape the direst of circumstances, from torture to genocide to human trafficking, and we are missing out on the opportunity to help resettle them for everyone’s benefit.

This is what government assistance is for. First, there’s help, when it’s needed most. Then, there are standards and an accountability system. Finally, Wyoming could find itself with more new residents… — self-sufficient, with the skills to make a difference, and happy to give back to the communities that welcomed them.

After fleeing his home nation, Bahige was sent to Maryland, where organizations in that state supported him. He learned English, found a job in food service and became a teacher’s aide. When the University of Wyoming rewarded his hard work with a scholarship offer, he headed west.

…advocates are pushing for Wyoming to adopt a program of its own. [Advocates are] working with the UW law school to come up with a draft plan for Gov. Matt Mead’s consideration. Such efforts are worthy of support.

It’s not about welfare. It’s about help in times of horror.

Members of a nongovernmental agency pick up refugees from the airport and take them to an apartment stocked with donations. Refugees begin learning the language, and their children are enrolled in school. They start with food stamps, but for most refugees, government support begins to diminish after eight months. Within four months, they must have jobs. In fact, they’re even required to repay the cost of their plane tickets.

A program would take no state money. The federal government would funnel resettlement money through Wyoming agencies and a nongovernmental organization. 

The system has been successful in Colorado, and advocates say Wyoming’s strong economy might make it an even better landing spot.

Like the former child soldier, many Wyomingites or their ancestors came from somewhere else and stayed to make a better life. We should welcome others who are following the same dream. Read more here

Posted in funding, Wyoming | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Georgia resettlement agencies’ proposals rejected

Posted by Christopher Coen on February 16, 2014

rejected

In the fiscal year ending in September, resettlement agencies in Georgia proposed resettling 3520 refugees, yet only resettled 2,710 refugees. Even that number, however, was up 8 percent from the year before. The U.S. State Department confirmed it limited the number of refugees coming to Georgia based partly on the state government’s request for reductions. The Republican governor has asked for reductions in resettlement since 2012. At 2,710 refugees resettled last year, that ranks the state at eighth among states in refugees resettled, closely matching Georgia’s ninth-place ranking for total population. The state government complains about Georgia’s share of costs to support refugees – an estimated $6.7 million in state and local taxpayer costs in fiscal year 2011 for public schools, child care and other expenses. The resettlement agencies point out that the federal government directed over $10 million dollars to the state for resettlement in that fiscal year alone, and that private aid money was also attracted to the statewide resettlement efforts (though they don’t say how much in private funding. One problem is that the resettlement agencies are concentrating nearly all the refugees in the Atlanta area, particularly in DeKalb County and especially in Clarkston – not only stressing that area but resulting in de facto segregation.) An article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution covers the issue:

The federal government is placing new limits on the number of refugees being resettled in Georgia, following requests from Gov. Nathan Deal’s administration for sharp cuts, public records show.

State officials started asking for reductions in 2012, citing worries that refugees are straining taxpayer-funded resources, including public schools.

Alarmed by the state’s position, resettlement agencies are publicly highlighting the economic benefits refugees bring. The agencies say refugees create a net gain by working, creating businesses, paying taxes and attracting more federal and private aid money than what the state and local governments spend on services…

In the fiscal year ending in September, Georgia received 2,710 refugees from around the world. That is up 8 percent from the year before. But it is 810 fewer people than originally proposed by resettlement agencies.

The U.S. State Department confirmed it limited the number of refugees coming to Georgia, based partly on the state’s requests…

In July, Deal’s administration asked the federal government to keep the same limits in place for this fiscal year, according to records obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. And the federal government is sticking to roughly the same range.

Georgia’s Department of Human Services — which distributes federal funding to resettlement agencies — estimated it cost $6.7 million in state and local taxpayer funds to support refugees in fiscal year 2011. That figure includes Georgia’s share of costs for public schools, child care and other expenses. The state’s estimate does not reflect taxes paid by refugees and the businesses they have created. A state report also shows the federal government kicked in $10.2 million for refugees during the same time frame.

Over the past three fiscal years, 7,866 refugees have been resettled in Georgia. During that same time frame, 184,589 were resettled nationwide. Georgia ranked eighth among states in the past fiscal year, according to an AJC analysis of pubic records. That hews closely to Georgia’s ninth-place ranking for total population.

Georgia has been a welcoming home for many refugees, but the program does pose some challenges for the state,” said Brian Robinson, a spokesman for the governor. “We’re willing to do our part, but we want to make sure we’re not taking more than our fair share.”…

J.D. McCrary, the executive director of the International Rescue Committee in Atlanta, called the state’s actions “unfortunate.” He and other advocates said Georgia — a state of more than 9 million people — could successfully resettle as many as 4,000 refugees each year… Read more here

Posted in capacity, Catholic Charities Atlanta, funding, Georgia, IRC, moratorium / restriction / reduction, Office of Admissions, schools | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Federal funding dries up for Waterloo resettlement office

Posted by Christopher Coen on February 7, 2014

dreis up

The federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) having made a late arrival to Waterloo, Iowa to serve thousands of secondary migrant refugees (refugees who first resettled elsewhere and then relocated to Waterloo for jobs) is now pulling out. The ORR funded a branch office of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants to offer services to the refugees since late 2012. Now, the group is arranging for volunteer groups and people to supposedly take over in its place and offer refugee services. Finding between $100,000 and $140,000 each year to fund these efforts is the biggest hurdle. An article in The Republic carries the story originally reported by the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier:

WATERLOO, Iowa — A federal agency is ending services to Burmese refugees in Waterloo, leaving volunteers scrambling to figure out how they can continue to help the immigrants.

The local office of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, which opened in December 2012, will close on Feb. 28 when federal funding runs out, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported (http://bit.ly/1n1t9DG ). It has been helping Burmese refugees, especially those in their few first years in the country, learn English and understand what community services are available. That includes preparing for citizenship.

The office always intended to be a temporary presence in Waterloo, where about 1,200 Burmese refugees currently reside. To date, it has helped about 200 refugees…

[Ann Grove, lead case worker] said finding ways to fund these efforts among the groups may be the biggest hurdle. It will take about $100,000 a year to replicate most services provided by the federal office, she said… “…If we’re looking at increasing the amount of interpretation to our desired level, we’re probably talking closer to $140,000.”

…[the] plan [is] to focus on case work, community education, employment and language. Read more here

 

Posted in Burma/Myanmar, funding, meatpacking industry, ORR, poultry production, secondary migration, refugee, USCRI, Waterloo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Congress increases ORR funding to $1.489 BIL from last year’s $1.12 BIL

Posted by Christopher Coen on January 27, 2014

big-pile-of-money-stack-of-american-dollars

Congress has increased the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s budget by nearly half a billion dollars this year (compare to last year), but resettlement agencies and some others are claiming this as a shortfall. That’s because the ORR had requested $1.6 billlion to cover an estimated 26,000 unaccompanied children coming to the United States from Mexico and Central America this year – an increase of approximately 10,000 unaccompanied minors from the number of children in the 2012 fiscal year. Critics of the numbers, however, say that taking care of 10,000 extra children should not require yet another half billion dollars added to the ORR budget. An article in The Duke Chronicle explains the numbers:

Congress has…increased funding for the Office of Refugee Resettlement to $1.489 billion from last year’s $1.12 billion, said Jen Smyers, associate director for immigration and refugee policy at Church World Service—a group that works with refugees in Durham and across the country. ORR estimated it would need $1.6 billion to serve all the populations in its care this year—a half billion increase from last year’s budget—and is looking for ways to meet the more than $100 million shortfall, Smyers added.

We never thought [the funding] was going to get cut from last year’s level,” Smyers said. “Our fear was that they would not get anywhere near [ORR's] needs…

Projected costs for this fiscal year increased by nearly half a billion dollars to cover an estimated 26,000 unaccompanied alien children coming to the United States from Mexico and Central America this year, Smyers said. This is an increase of approximately 10,000 unaccompanied children from the number of children in the 2012 fiscal year.

Suzanne Shanahan, associate director of ethics at the Kenan Institute and associate research professor in sociology, was critical of the calculations used to reach the increase in ORR’s budget requirements. She said that taking care of 10,000 extra children should not require a 30 percent increase in funds.

The U.S. resettles 60,000 refugees a year, and the 60,000 refugees cost $1.12 billion [last year],” Shanahan said. “To say that a half billion dollars is what it takes to increase that by 10,000, the math is extremely wrong.”

With regard to the $100 million shortfall, Shanahan said this is only between a 6 and 7 percent total shortfall, which is not “extraordinary.”… Read more here

Posted in children, Congress, CWS, funding, ORR | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Refugees in Tennessee contribute almost twice as much as consume

Posted by Christopher Coen on November 25, 2013

case studyConservative 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: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

National restriction on refugee arrivals and travel moratorium may finally end October 28

Posted by Christopher Coen on October 19, 2013

Reopening 

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: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

National moratorium on new refugees shuts nation’s doors until October 21

Posted by Christopher Coen on October 12, 2013

 

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The US State Department has extended until October 21 a national moratorium on accepting new refugees into the country which began on October 1. The State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration hopes the federal government will reopen by then. Federal financial help to refugees has not been affected, but the shutdown of the Social Security Administration makes it impossible for resettlement agencies to get Social Security cards for refugees. Without them, refugees cannot access public benefits such as food stamps and Medicaid, or services such as federal employment help. An article at Austin’s KUT explains:

…as a result of the ongoing government shutdown…the State Department and the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration [has been forced] to delay the arrival of refugees from Sudan, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Eritrea, Burma, Bhutan, Cuba and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

…Traditionally, presidential administrations decide how many refugees are to be admitted during the fiscal year by the first week of October. But a national moratorium on refugees has been extended until October 21 – a date by which the bureau hopes the federal government has reopened. Until then, displaced refugees must remain in their “second countries” – halfway points between their country of origin and destination.

While federal financial assistance to refugees has not been affected, the shutdown of the Social Security Administration makes it impossible for local resettlement agencies to obtain Social Security cards for refugees. Without them, displaced persons cannot access federal employment agencies or public benefits like food stamps and Medicaid.  According to Elizabeth Schmidt, the Austin-area director for Refugee Services of Texas, food stamps and pantries are the only ways the newly arrived can access food…

She says that five local refugees are currently without any form of public assistance. Read more here

An article in the St. Louis Post-Disptach raises other concerns:

…Complicating matters, said Suzanne LeLaurin of the International Institute of St. Louis, is that if the delay goes on too long, security clearances for refugees already approved to come to the U.S. could expire, postponing their arrival even more.

I don’t know if any of these expiration dates will be waived under this circumstance,” said LeLaurin, the institute’s senior vice president of families and individuals… Read more here

Posted in Austin, funding, moratorium / restriction / reduction, PRM, RCA (Refugee Cash Assistance), RMA (Refugee Medical Assistance), Social Security Administration, St. Louis, State Department | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Tennessee legislature contunues to oppose refugee resettlement

Posted by Christopher Coen on August 31, 2013

glass half

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: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

More resettlement agencies feel effects of federal funding cuts

Posted by Christopher Coen on July 5, 2013

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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: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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