Friends of Refugees

A U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program Watchdog Group

Archive for the ‘Issues’ Category

Child migrants claim abuse by U.S. Border Patrol agents

Posted by Christopher Coen on June 15, 2014

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Tens of thousands of children have crossed the border illegally since 2011 and now some of them are coming forward with stories of abuse at the hands of U.S. Border Patrol agents.  One boy claims an agent punched him in the stomach. We dealt with this agency back in 2010 when agents detained a Somali refugee in North Dakota for failing to keep an I-20 identification card on his person. The agency played games in trying to reject our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. In 2011 a whistle-blower at the agency reported that staff get paid overtime while not working.  An article at The Wire explains the recent abuse allegations:

Some of the tens of thousands of children who have crossed the border since 2011 claim that they’ve been physically and verbally abused by border patrol agents while in their custody. Documents obtained by BuzzFeed via the Freedom of Information Act didn’t specify whether the claims were ever substantiated or investigated by the Border Patrol, but government officials filed two dozen reports about such allegations.

These “Significant Incident Reports” were made by staff at shelters connected to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement between March of 2011 and 2013. The office receives the children within three days of their apprehension. One girl from Guatemala claims her leg was run over by border patrol vehicle while she was trying to escape, though officials didn’t believe her. Another boy said an agent punched him in the stomach.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has not commented on the abuse allegations, but on Monday afternoon the organization replaced its head of internal affairs, James F. Tomsheck, “amid concerns about use-of-force investigations of Border Patrol agents,” according to The Washington Post… Read more here

Posted in abuse, children, U.S. Customs & Border Protection | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Refugees preyed upon on Rochester NY streets

Posted by Christopher Coen on June 8, 2014

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Refugees in Rochester NY say they are fed up with being targeted for crime on the city’s streets. Ironically, many of these refugees do not report the crimes to police. Reportedly, the assaults, robberies and verbal abuse against local Nepali-Bhutanese and other refugees are being committed by young men from the African-American community. There is some debate whether these attacks are hate crimes or if the young men are targeting the victims due to their vulnerability as immigrants. An article in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle examines the issue:

Are the assaults, robberies and verbal abuse against local Bhutanese, Nepali and other refugees by young men from the African-American community hate crimes or crimes of economics and opportunity?

Perhaps a little of both.

Former Rochester police chief James Sheppard, who now works as a mentor to young African-American men whose lives have gone down paths of crime, downplayed tagging the crimes as “hate crimes” — defined generally as a criminal offense motivated by bias against race, religion, gender or other characteristics. He said the perpetrators are more often young black men who don’t feel good about themselves and who prey on the vulnerable for economic reasons…

Those who have been attacked say the abuse is often accompanied by comments such as “go back to your own country,” or “you don’t belong here.”…

Members of that community say they often do not call police because they either fear retaliation from the accused, they don’t think police will be effective at solving the problem, or they are simply more inclined just accept the abuse… Read more here

Posted in crime, dangerous neighborhoods, gangs, hate crimes, Nepali Bhutanese, police, Rochester, safety | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Resettlement agency worker responds to my public comment

Posted by Christopher Coen on June 8, 2014

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There’s a comment in response to my comments submitted to the U.S. State Department for their annual call for public comments.  The author works at a refugee resettlement agency and disagrees with my points.  Today I responded to the author of the comment; both his/her comment and my response are below:

Nilo Nilo said

Dear Mr. Coen,

I work for one of the voluntary agencies (volags), however I’m not commenting as a rep. of the agency. I appreciate your opinions and desire to improve the program, even if I disagree. I just wanted to respond to a few points in your post. PRM visits affiliate sites at least every fifth year (at the outside). For example if a site was last visited in FY10 they can expect to be visited in FY14. HQs are visited every year. HQs visit each of their affiliate sites at least every 3 years. From what I’ve seen, volags are often more rigorous in their review of sites and hold them to a higher standard than PRM/Cooperative Agreement standards. The idea of having external monitors is an interesting idea and would have its pros and cons. It would provide outside eyes and may (or may not) be more stringent than volag monitors. On the other hand, volags do work with sites everyday to ensure the best available services are provided, to trouble shoot issues, and help them with training among other things. The depth of knowledge volags have about their affiliates allows a more specific review of programs (better or worse I couldn’t say).

In both PRM and volag monitoring visits, 4 families are visited in their homes and interviewed with interpretation (for one hour to 90 minutes each) about the services they received, their relationship with the agency, and their feelings about their resettlement experience. This makes up one-third to one-half of the visit time (including the time it takes to travel to and from refugees homes which are often far apart). I would disagree that either PRM or volags place more emphasis on documentation then refugee feedback.

Also, PRMs visits are announced 2 weeks before a visit, which could give sites a little time to scramble to cover tracks, I suppose, but is mostly because staff are very busy and sites need to make sure they have time and coverage during a PRM visit (when daily work is interrupted) to host the monitors. In my experience, serious issues tend to be systemic and are not so easy to “clean up” before a visit.

I’m not sure what you have in mind for monetary penalties (the specific agencies? the HQ?) but while both HQ and the agencies are technically “contractors” I think that term makes it easy to confuse with other, private, government contracts which are well funded – that is not the case in resettlement. We are all not for profit and compensated (as individuals and agencies) at a much lower rate than Deloitte or whoever comes to mind as a contractor – there are no profits – so monetary penalties would directly affect programs and (by turn refugees). Sites that have serious problems face restrictions on arrivals, heavier over-site, and if they don’t improve will be shut down. That last step doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.

The operational guidance you link to appears to be an overview of some of the R&P requirements, from FY2007. I think it’s important for your readers to know that the volags and agencies are actually held to a 51 page contract called the Cooperative Agreement, which is updated with new requirements each fiscal year. If you feel the content of this contract isn’t comprehensive enough or should include more/different requirements, that is a fair opinion, but I wouldn’t want anyone to be confused and think that the link you provided is what is used to guide programing or services.

There are improvements that need to be made in the program, believe me, but I think there is sometimes a misconception that resettlement agencies are somehow using the program to make money (it is always a loss – the amount provided is actually less than half of what it takes to run the program) or that staff are uncaring or incompetent. The first is never true and the second no more so than anywhere else. In my opinion, if one wants to help refugees, they should point out the flaws, but also advocate for increased funding both for per capita refugee funds and administration (which does, in fact, cost money). To be honest, resettlement is really an area where it is rather astonishing how much is done with so little, if one is willing to take in the full picture.

Best.

…and my response:

Thank-you for your comment. Yes, I have heard the claim of the State Dept visiting resettlement sites for monitoring inspections every 5 years but the inspection reports supplied from our FOIA requests do not back that up, so I’ll believe it when I see it.

I can’t be impressed with self-monitoring by resettlement agencies. How often do they report cheating, neglect, serious mistakes? What would be their incentive? Its a public program, therefore the results of these self-inspections should be easily available to the public. They are not available at all.

How are four families selected by the State Dept. for interviews? Shouldn’t all refugees at least fill out a questionnaire about their experiences in order to find problems, and then a visit to the four most serious cases? It would be done that way if the State Dept. as partner/friend/overseer of the resettlement agencies wanted to find problems.

If the State Dept is only interviewing four families to get their opinions, while relying on agency documentation for all the rest, then it is inarguable that the State Dept. places more emphasis on resettlement agencies’ documentation then on refugee feedback.

The pre-announced notification has allowed agencies to visit refugees to tell them what to say (a Tampa area agency was caught doing this), to deliver money and required items that were due weeks or months earlier (this is documented in the monitoring reports, copies of which are found on our website), and quick filling-in of documentation forms that were never completed or even begun and which were supposed to be contemporaneous (a practice also found in the monitoring reports).

Agencies would need to take monetary penalties from salaries, as management is responsible for violations and should take the penalty. Any charity that didn’t do this, but instead took the penalty from refugee programing, would obviously have no credibility.

As you said, the shutting down of agencies doesn’t happen often; not even after repeated, serious violations. Its a rare bird, therefore agencies need not worry too much.

The Operational Guidance is rarely changed, therefore a 2007 date should not surprise you. The previous one was in 2001 I believe. Changes are always minor. If you know of a newer version let us and the public know.

We link to the the Basic Terms of the Cooperative Agreement as our number one link (see bottom left column), so we do not pretend that the Operational Guidance is the only contract document (and the wording was changed under pressure form agencies around year 2000 so that even these minimum requirements are no longer a strict requirement). Even the most comprehensive contract document, however, is worth nothing if it is not enforced, penalties are non-existent, and agency shut-downs are so rare.

I have never claimed that refugee resettlement is a money-making enterprise. I have pointed out that many agencies are operating on 90% and above government funding, and linked to IRS 990 forms which prove this point. There is no reason to expect that resettlement agencies be fully compensated for resettlement. Resettlement was historically a private enterprise fully funded by charities. The U.S. federal government got involved in a large capacity after WWII to counter the communist block’s influence. The money the State Dept. furnishes is meant to be seed money for the agencies, who are expected to add significant private funding (which is regularly and often not done, resulting in credibility issues).

I think asking everyone to join you in requesting additional per capita funding for resettlement is hard to do when resettlement agencies have yet to prove that use the public money they get well, and when they fail to raise significant private funding as required. Your image is tied to your performance. That is why I ask for significant change in the program so that the public will gain trust and offer full support.

 

Posted in funding, moratorium / restriction / reduction, neglect, openess and transparency in government, Operational Guidance, public/private partnership, State Department | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Springfield, Massachusetts case back into the public spotlight

Posted by Christopher Coen on June 1, 2014

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The refugee case in Springfield, Massachusetts has come back into the public spotlight after police responding to call from a Somali family discovered them living in an apartment with an extremely heavy roach infestation and no electricity. Of the family’s children two required special breathing equipment, which was not functioning without electricity.  City inspectors said it was the worst roach infestation they had ever seen and condemned the apartment. In addition, there were missing or non-working smoke detectors, no working stove, and other conditions that made the apartment uninhabitable. The mayor and others have of course jumped on the refugee resettlement agencies in town but the family was resettled in 2003 and moved out of the state only to move back, and then out again and then back again.  Jewish Family Service of Western Massachusetts last assisted the family in 2011 until the family moved out-of-state a second time and claim it was not aware the family needed help again.

A couple of articles in The Republican newspaper report on the case:

SPRINGFIELD – City officials said Tuesday that Somali refugees including 12 children were found living in deplorable conditions in a Union Street apartment that had a heavy infestation of roaches and no electricity.

The duplex apartment at 515 Union St. was condemned Thursday by the city, and the tenants — believed to number three adults and 12 children — were relocated after Code Enforcement and Housing officials were notified and conducted the inspection, city officials said.

“It was the heaviest infestation of roaches I have seen in years,” said David Cotter, the city’s deputy director of code enforcement in the Housing Division. “They were all over the walls, floors, ceilings, window areas, doorways. I ordered all the inspectors out of there until we could get a full extermination report.”

According to police, one child was doing her homework outside the building under a street lamp on Wednesday night due to the lack of electricity, Cotter said.

Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, who has been critical of the refugee resettlement policies in Springfield in the past, renewed his criticism on Tuesday. Refugees have not received adequate follow-up services from the resettlement agencies, from the federal level on down, leaving them to be a strain on city services, Sarno said.

“Where is the accountability?” Sarno said.

The residents were living in poverty and in crowded, unsafe conditions, Sarno said.

Sarno had urged the federal government to stop locating new refugees in Springfield last year, and called for a moratorium again on Tuesday.

“No mas, no more,” Sarno said… Read more here

Although Jewish Family Service is not responsible for this family, that was resettled eleven years ago, they have pledged to help.  A second article gives more information:

SPRINGFIELD – Jewish Family Service of Western Massachusetts President Robert Marmor said this week that his agency will work with the state to ensure the safety of 12 refugee children who were living in conditions at a Union Street apartment described as roach-infested…

In another twist, the 12 children and their parents have since moved temporarily into a Greenfield hotel after spending a night in a Marian Street apartment provided by their landlord. That apartment was also condemned, officials said…

Marmor, in a letter to Associate City Solicitor Lisa DeSousa, said his agency will act immediately to “ensure the children are safe and in appropriate child care and academic settings.”

David Cotter, the city’s deputy director of code enforcement, said the roach infestation was the worst he has seen in many years.

In addition, he said there were missing or non-working smoke detectors, no electricity or working stove, and other conditions that made the apartment uninhabitable.

Marmor said his employees, in communicating with the family, believe there has been numerous complaints to the landlord about conditions. The landlord is No Limit Investment, whose officers are listed as Jimmy Davis, of Philadelphia, and Dasha Miller, of Springfield, according to records.

Daniel Kelly, of Springfield, a lawyer representing the landlord, said they are working to correct all violations this week at 515 Union St. In addition, they are correcting violations found at the second apartment they provided to the family at 197 Marion St…

The electricity had been turned off at the Union Street apartment because of very large unpaid electric bills, Kelly said… Read more here

Posted in children, housing, Jewish Family Service of Western Masachusetts, moratorium / restriction / reduction, police, Somali Bantu, Springfield | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

State Department refugee resettlement office taking comments

Posted by Christopher Coen on May 28, 2014

 

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The State Department refugee resettlement office is taking comments from the public on opinions for the size and scope of the resettlement program for fiscal year 2015.  It’s a good opportunity to address the problems in the program in the spirit of helping refugees who are neglected and injured by these problems, and in increasing potential public support if the problems are ever addressed and solved.

For my comment this year I brushed off and updated one of my comments from an earlier year since the State Department refugee office has never addressed the concerns or answered the questions and the comment remains pertinent.

Comments should be addressed to: Anne C. Richard, Asst. Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, US State Department, Washington, DC, and emailed to: Delicia Spruell at spruellda@state.gov or faxed to (202) 453-9393.

Comments are due by 5 p.m. on May 29th.

Posted in Ann Richard, Assistant Secretary of the PRM, capacity, crime, Operational Guidance, public/private partnership, State Department | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Refugee woman lost seven fingers in meat-packing accidents, not understanding safety training

Posted by Christopher Coen on April 23, 2014

 neglected1

Iowa’s 6000 refugees from Myanmar are struggling on. The U.S. Refugee resettlement program still hasn’t figured out how to adequately assist refugees who move from their original resettlement location to other geographical locations for jobs or to be near family (secondary migration). This, even though large numbers of refugees have relocated in search of jobs since the 2008 economic recession. As a result, refugees have committed suicide, parents have lost custody of their children, children have died and refugees have been horribly maimed in meat-packing plant jobs – all due to the lack of support and assistance. An article in the Des Moines Register explains the situation in Iowa:

On the Monday after standard time went into effect, Lee Mo’s children missed school. The Burmese refugee family knew the American ritual of moving clocks forward and back, but they didn’t know on which dates that happened, so the school bus left without them.

Even if she had known the date, Mo couldn’t read a calendar. For much of her five years here, she has had to estimate time based on the position of the sun. She doesn’t know her age. She can’t make a phone call. Like about half of the people in Iowa who speak her native Karenni, she can’t read in any language…

Since 2006, refugees from Burma have been turning up in Iowa, becoming its largest incoming refugee group.

There are an estimated 6,000 refugees from Burma who are here…

It’s not just the inability of parents to communicate with teachers, or pick kids up or help them study. It’s someone being prematurely cut off food stamps because the paperwork wasn’t done due to language barriers. It’s the child who missed two years of schooling because the mother didn’t know to enroll her. The man who couldn’t read his eviction notice until a week before he had to move with the 14 people sharing his one-bedroom apartment. It’s the untouched FIP benefits debit card loaded with $900 that someone didn’t know what to do with, even as she fell behind on rent.

“We have people getting surgery, but they don’t know what surgery they’re getting,” said Ohr. One woman lost seven fingers in meat-packing accidents, not understanding the safety training. A newborn died after being kept waiting in the emergency room. People have lost parental rights for lack of “cultural awareness” or an attorney who spoke their language.

“It’s a crushing of the spirit,” said Ohr.

In 2012, just a year after their families moved to Iowa, three Karenni-speaking children drowned in the Iowa River at Marshalltown. The mother of two was so distraught she tried to jump out of her apartment window.

Mo’s sister was in the hospital recently recovering from a suicide attempt. Alone, depressed and unable to find work, she stabbed herself in the stomach with a knife. Depression is widespread…

Paw Moo Htoo has been in America seven months with her husband and six children… She is withdrawn and expressionless.

“I don’t know how to go to the store, to doctor’s appointments, to my children’s school,” she said through an interpreter. She can watch TV only if one of her kids turns it on. “I struggle with so much…because of the language barriers, I can’t communicate with anyone.”

Htoo says her case worker only showed her how to turn on the lights and oven, but said nothing about enrolling her kids in school. So at first, they didn’t go. Money is tight. Her husband earns $1,200 a month at a Marshalltown meat-packing job, working 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. He pays $160 to be in a carpool and $740 for the 3-bedroom apartment they are required to have. And they’re paying $290 a month to reimburse the cost of their $8,000 airfare here… Read more here

 

Posted in Burma/Myanmar, children, drowning, Iowa, Marshalltown, meatpacking industry, mental health, neglect, secondary migration, refugee, taken away from refugee parents | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Refuge placements to Amarillo restricted

Posted by Christopher Coen on February 23, 2014

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Last fall the State Department restricted new refugee placements to Amarillo in fiscal year 2014 to family reunion cases after local government agencies reported being overloaded with newly resettled refugees and secondary migrants coming from other resettlement sites. Congressman Mac Thornberry brought State Department refugee resettlement office officials to Amarillo to meet with community leaders. Catholic Charities of the Texas Panhandle and Refugee Services of Texas are the local area resettlement agencies. They were asked three years ago to cut the number of resettled refugees (but apparently did not do so). Local government agencies complain that the schools was unable to handle the load of new refugee children, and that the City’s 911 emergency phone system was struggling to deal with the many languages spoken. Refugees – largely from Myanmar (Burma), but also from Iraq and Iran – have been migrating to the city for the $14 per hour meatpacking plant jobs, as well as to live near relatives. That “secondary migration” apparently continues, with the State Department only being able to cut the number of directly resettled refugees. An article in the Texas Tribune covers the story:

More international refugees were resettled in Texas in 2012 than in any other state, according to the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement. And one of the leading destinations is Amarillo, where members of Mr. Thawng’s church and other newcomers from places like Myanmar and Iraq often work in meatpacking plants.

Now local officials are worried that Amarillo’s refugee population is straining the city’s ability to respond to 911 callers who speak numerous languages and to help children learn English and adapt to a new culture.

We’ve raised some red flags and said this isn’t good for some entities in the city or for the refugees themselves,” said Mayor Paul Harpole.

Amarillo, the state’s 14th largest city, with 195,000 residents, receives a higher ratio of new refugees to the existing population than any other Texas city, according to 2007-12 State Department data from Representative Mac Thornberry, Republican of Clarendon. And the only Texas cities that receive a larger number of refugees than Amarillo (which received 480 in 2012) are also the state’s largest: Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio.

But those numbers show only a refugee’s initial placement and do not account for secondary migration, Mr. Thornberry said. Many refugees who initially settle elsewhere relocate to Amarillo for jobs or to join family members.

The State Department decides how many refugees are resettled in an area, and states review those recommendations. Last fall, the department, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and refugee placement organizations agreed that for 2014, placements in Amarillo should be limited to family reunifications, Stephanie Goodman, a spokeswoman for the commission, said.

We cannot keep going at the rate we’ve been going,” Mr. Thornberry said… Read more here

An article at FOX KAMR has more:

…Over the last five calendar years, more than 2,700 refugees have resettled in Amarillo.  That represents roughly 1.3% of our current population…

Right now, the bulk of refugees coming to Amarillo are from Burma, followed by Iraq and Iran.

Refugees will always be welcome but, right now, the numbers are growing too quickly. Putting too many in one place and putting too much burden on the schools system or the police or fire, is not healthy for refugees or us.” Mayor Paul Hapole said.

There are two organizations that help refugees in the resettlement process:  Catholic Charities of the Texas Panhandle and Refugee Services of Texas.

They were both asked three years ago to reduce the number of refugees brought to Amarillo.  But, original resettlements are not the main problem.

Nancy Koons, the Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Texas Panhandle said.  “In addition to that we see a lot of secondary refugees that settle in other cities then choose to move to Amarillo because they have family here, they like the weather or they know that there’s employment.”

Despite the efforts to reduce the number of refugees brought into Amarillo, the population is still growing too fast.  That’s why congressman Mac Thornberry brought the state department to Amarillo to meet with community leaders.

“One of the things I hope we can accomplish is helping the state department understand that we’re not just dealing with the people they bring to Amarillo.  But, it’s the relatives and the secondary migration that we’re also dealing with and they’ve also got to take that into account.”  Thornberry said… Read more here

Posted in Amarillo, Burma/Myanmar, Catholic Family Service, Amarillo, children, Iranian, Iraqi, meatpacking industry, moratorium / restriction / reduction, Office of Admissions, Refugee Services of Texas, Refugee Services of Texas, school for refugee children, schools, secondary migration, refugee | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Georgia resettlement agencies’ proposals rejected

Posted by Christopher Coen on February 16, 2014

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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 »

 
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