Archive for the ‘Issues’ Category
Posted by Christopher Coen on December 24, 2013
Its become popular in a certain part of the political spectrum in the US to scapegoat refugees for economic ills of the country. U.S. Citizens who are struggling economically can be both vulnerable to these false arguments as well as contributors to a climate of hostility to other vulnerable populations — people resettled to this country. A Nepali-Bhutanese man’s Op-ed in The Oregonian however makes the case for refugee resettlement by addressing the economic arguments:
Refugee resettlement is an integral part of the U.S. immigration program, helping to bring the world’s most vulnerable populations to safety in the US. But some wonder why the federal government welcomes more of these strangers when the U.S. already has so many homeless and unemployed citizens. Based on my experiences arriving from a Bhutanese refugee camp in Nepal, refugee resettlement need not be viewed as an issue of benefits to newcomers at the expense of old-timers. Usually, both the U.S. government and its newest arrivals end up winners.
First of all, refugees don’t come to U.S. for free or without going through a security check. When a refugee comes from refugee camps overseas or from a country torn by war or political unrest, he or she takes a travel loan from the U.S. government for airfare. Refugees have to pay that money back. I owed $1,300 for my one-way plane ticket. Within a year, I paid every penny back.
Refugee resettlement is an investment in the lives of refugees and in the development of this country. Annually, the U.S. resettles an average of 70,000 people, or roughly 1 percent of the total world refugee population. Since 1975, more than three million refugees have been resettled into the U.S., according to the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). That’s an enormous addition to the tax base. Even though refugees have to wait until they are U.S. citizens to receive certain benefits, they start paying taxes upon arrival…
…more refugees work and pay taxes than not, making up for those who are unable to…
…Initially, limited English skills lead most refugees to work entry level jobs that average Americans would rather not do. Big corporations like Marriott and Hilton count on refugees coming here to fill a legal workforce. Those same corporations donated to both Democratic and Republican parties and their candidates during the 2012 general election to push for the admission of more legal workers. These hard-working refugees stay at work longer than American co-workers. This helps American employers save some money on training and hiring costs. More seriously, refugees developed a burning desire to work while being banned from doing so in home and camp countries… Read more here
Posted in economic self-sufficiency, employment/jobs for refugees, legislation, Nepali Bhutanese, Oregon | Tagged: bhutanese, economic, immigration, jobs, Nepali, oregon, political, refugees, travel loans | 1 Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on December 8, 2013
A recent study found that cheating students are more likely to want government jobs. I live the reality of that fact nearly every time I must deal with refugee resettlement government oversight agencies. In the US the humanitarian refugee program is strangely cloaked in secrecy at the government level; a secrecy that has no other purpose than to shield government agency staff and officials from accountability for their actions. It does nothing to help the refugees or the people and their interests for whom the government agencies supposedly work. An example of this is the State Department’s inspection reports of refugee resettlement agencies (contractors). In March of 2010 I put in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the reports completed from September 1, 2009 to March 1, 2010. In January 2012 the State Department FOIA office sent me six inspection reports supposedly in fulfillment of the request for six months of inspection reports. Yet, in email correspondence of January 20, 2012 with Barbara Day of the PRM’s Office of [Refugee] Admissions she claimed there were 23 inspection reports completed during that time period. I asked the FOIA office where the missing documents were? The FOIA office then did a little trick. They opened a new FOIA case and said to wait. Now, nearly two more years later I am still waiting for the 17 missing reports. What are they trying to hide? Notice how willfully they violate the law – Freedom of Information Act – to keep this public information away from the public. But that goes back to the type of people/personalities that are attracted to government jobs – jobs which have no real customers; customers who can vote with their feet and go elsewhere. I think what a shame it is that we arrive in such a situation when we have had so many Americans sacrifice their lives to oppose tyranny in the name of our country and our Constitution. Barbara Day has asked me to refer people to her who are alleging wrongdoing by resettlement agencies. How do I do that in good faith when she engages in such dishonest and unethical behavior with the FOIA requests? The newspaper article on government workers is found in in the Los Angeles Times:
College students who cheated on a simple task were more likely to want government jobs, researchers from Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania found in a study of hundreds of students in Bangalore, India.
Their results, recently released as a working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research, suggest that one of the contributing forces behind government corruption could be who gets into government work in the first place.
For instance, “if people have the view that jobs in government are corrupt, people who are honest might not want to get into that system,” said Rema Hanna, an associate professor at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. To combat that problem, governments may need to find new ways to screen people seeking jobs, she said…
Cheating seemed to be rampant: More than a third of students had scores that fell in the top 1% of the predicted distribution, researchers found. Students who apparently cheated were 6.3% more likely to say they wanted to work in government, the researchers found.
“Overall, we find that dishonest individuals — as measured by the dice task — prefer to enter government service,” wrote Hanna and coauthor Shing-yi Wang, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
They added, “Importantly, we show that cheating on this task is also predictive of fraudulent behaviors by real government officials.”…
Surveying people about corruption also did little to predict whether people were prone to lie in real life, the researchers concluded — a troubling finding for governments that have folded such questions into job screening. Nor did ability seem to make a difference. Read more here
Posted in Office of Admissions, openess and transparency in government | Tagged: Barbara Day, cheating, FOIA, Freedom of Information Act, government workers, immigration, refugees, resettlement, State Department, students | 5 Comments »
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 | 3 Comments »
Posted by Christopher Coen on November 17, 2013
It turns out that the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis gave more than $800,000 in a lobbying effort to expand the time limit for lawsuits by victims of childhood sexual abuse. I long had some worries regarding the church being entrusted to care for refugees. In 2005 I wrote to the organization’s resettlement director as well as to the Archbishop (here and here) regarding deficiencies in refugee resettlement at the agency, though I never received any response. Deficiencies included refugees lived in overcrowded and uncomfortable conditions that led in some instances to eviction, late health screenings, no furniture provided other than beds, failure to enroll refugees in Refugee Cash Assistance and Refugee Medicaid Assistance, and failure to enroll refugee children in school. An article in the Star Tribune explains the lobbying effort by the church against childhood sexual abuse victims:
The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis was at the forefront of extensive lobbying against efforts to expand the time limit for lawsuits by victims of childhood sexual abuse, according to a document obtained by the Star Tribune.
An internal accounting analysis prepared by the archdiocese shows that the lobbying association known as the Minnesota Religious Council received more than $800,000 from the Catholic Church during a seven-year period ending in the middle of 2008. A similar analysis was not available for subsequent years, but state lobbying records show the council spent more than $425,000 on lobbyists from 2006 through 2012.
Lobbying records also show the council doubled its lobbying force to six individuals on March 22, 2013, just weeks before the passage of the Child Victims Act. That law eliminated the statute of limitation for child sexual abuse cases going forward. It also created a three-year window for litigation of many previously barred claims in cases where churches, schools and other institutions failed to provide protection to children.
Since the law took effect in late May, at least 18 lawsuits seeking damages for sex abuse have been filed against Minnesota Catholic clergy and leaders… Read more here
Posted in Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, children, failure to enroll refugee children in school, furnishings, lack of, housing, overcrowding, late health screenings, medical care, sexual abuse, Twin Cities | Tagged: catholic, children, immigration, Minneapolis, refugees, resettlement, sexual abuse, st paul | 3 Comments »
Posted by Christopher Coen on November 7, 2013
*CORRECTION*: World Relief High Point office claims it never partnered with Tyson and only referred seven refugees to the Tyson plant (see comment from Office director Andrew Timbie below).
Tyson Foods, Inc. Plans to employ about 250 Karen refugees from Myanmar (formerly Burma) at the company’s chicken processing complex in Wilkesboro, NC. The World Relief resettlement agency offices in High Point and Raleigh will be directing refugees to Tyson “to hire them in mass.” This seems to be a prescription for employer abuse when refugees are not treated as individuals with varying levels of employability and various employment area interests but are instead directed in mass to employers in distant and sometimes isolated locations. I note that the State Department resettlement contract documents signed by World Relief require individual assessments via individual case management. How will Tyson treat these people when it knows it can order up more large batches of refugee workers to replace them if it wishes?
A local church official says he was told that Tyson has carried out similar efforts in connection with its processing plant in Center, Texas, and with plants in Arkansas and Missouri. Tyson has also lured refugees in Texas, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kentucky. Tyson has a troubling history in their treatment of Hmong refugees as well. An article in the Wilkes Journal Patriot has details about the plans for Wilkesboro:
Tyson Foods Inc. has announced plans to employ Burmese refugees at the company’s chicken processing complex in Wilkesboro.
Tyson officials shared the plans with about 30 local businesses, public schools, town and county government and law enforcement leaders and others during a meeting Tuesday at the Tyson technical services building on N.C. 268 West in Wilkesboro.
The [Karen] refugees are originally from Myanmar…
About 250 over two years
Worth Sparkman, Tyson public relations manager, said later that the company anticipated hiring about 250 refugees over the next two years to work at the processing complex in Wilkesboro…
People who attended the meeting, which wasn’t announced to the public or media, said Tyson officials indicated that it was hard to predict how many Burmese refugees might come to Wilkes to work at the Tyson complex and when.
Local officials comment
They said Tyson officials told them the newcomers would come as families and would contribute to the local economy with the money they spend here, including for housing. Refugees start paying U.S. and state taxes when they become employed.
People who attended the meeting said Tyson officials also talked about the responsibility of Christians to reach out and help the refugees and about the tradition of coming to America for a better life…
Dr. Marty Hemric, Wilkes school superintendent, attended the meeting and said state funding for the school system’s English as a second language program would increase if the number of students who don’t speak English increased.
Wilkes Sheriff Chris Shew also attended the meeting and said his biggest concern was finding interpreters for his department’s interactions with the refugees. “My concern is being able to bridge the communication gap,” he said.
Wilkes County Manager John Yates, Wilkes Department of Social Services Director Bill Sebastian, Wilkesboro Town Manager Ken Noland and other local officials are calling officials in communities elsewhere in the country who have experienced an influx of refugees for insight on what to expect here…
Involvement of churches
The Rev. Steve Gouge, director of missions of the Brushy Mountain Baptist Association, said Tyson officials contacted and met with him Thursday to discuss their interest in having the association’s churches interact with the refugees…
Gouge…said he was impressed with the plans shared by Tyson officials and said he was told the company carried out similar efforts in connection with its processing plant in Center, Texas, and with plants in Arkansas and Missouri…
Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride and other large food processors in the U.S. increasingly are turning to refugees from Myanmar, Sudan, Somalia and other countries for a more stable workforce. Tyson Foods processing complexes in Center, Texas; Shelbyville, Tenn., Waterloo, Iowa; and elsewhere each employ hundreds of resettled refugees.
World Relief assists
Tyson and other companies find many of these workers with assistance of nonprofit agencies that have contracts with the U.S. State Department to help refugees in the United States become resettled and self-sufficient…
“Our role as a resettlement agency is to help find homes for them (refugees), help them get their Social Security cards” and address other basic needs, said Andrew Timbie, manager of the World Relief office in High Point.
“We have a team working with employers to hire them in mass. Our goal is to get them employed and to set them up for self-sufficiency.”
Timbie said World Relief staff work with leaders of refugee populations to get the word out about available jobs, such as at the Tyson complex in Wilkesboro...Read more here
Posted in Karen, meatpacking industry, poultry production, Raleigh-Durham, secondary migration, refugee, Wilkesboro, World Relief | Tagged: High Point, Karen, meatpacking, Myanmar, refugees, resettlement, Secondary migrantion, Tyson, Wilkesboro, World Relief | 9 Comments »
Posted by Christopher Coen on November 2, 2013
One of the former Lost Boys of Sudan now living in Amarillo, Texas has filed a negligence lawsuit against a Kansas bounty hunter claiming the man wrongfully targeted him and attacked without warning. Aguer Gak claims that Donald Ray Adams, without announcing his intentions or identifying himself as a bounty hunter, and without asking Gak his name or for any identification, Tased Gak, pepper sprayed him, Tased him again, and then shackled Gak in Amarillo on Nov. 17, 2012. Adams claimed he was searching for a bail jumper. In the state of Kansas becoming a licensed bounty hunter requires only completing a two-day course and paying $200. An article at Amarillo.com has the details of the story:
An Amarillo man filed a negligence suit Wednesday against a Kansas bounty hunter, alleging the man wrongfully identified him as a bail jumper, Tasing and assaulting him in front of a north Amarillo motel last year.
The suit was filed in 320th District Court by Aguer Gak, a Sudanese immigrant who works at Tyson Fresh Meats, against Donald Ray Adams.
On Nov. 17, 2012, Adams, 66, approached Gak about 8:30 p.m. as Gak was talking on a cellphone near the Cowboy Motel, 3619. E. Amarillo Blvd., according to the suit and Amarillo police reports.
“Without announcing his intentions or identifying himself as a bounty hunter, and without asking Gak his name or for any identification, Adams Tased Gak, then pepper sprayed him, then Tased him again, then shackled Gak,” the suit states. “The quick actions of an intervening Good Samaritan with a broom allowed Gak to escape Adams’ capture, with Gak fleeing for his life, still shackled with Adams’ restraints.”
During the melee, two other witnesses called 911 and one man told police the fracas sounded like someone was being killed…
One witness, Deng Awon Kon, told police Adams left in his pickup before police arrived. Kon said he followed Adams until he stopped near some police vehicles.
Adams, according to a police report, told officers Gak, 33, was a Kansas bail jumper he was attempting to apprehend, but one investigating officer determined Adams had attempted to capture the wrong man.
Officers said they later located Gak — who still was handcuffed and had two Taser probes buried in his arm — a few blocks from the motel. Officers transported him back to the motel, where he identified Adams as the man who attacked him, Amarillo police reports said.
A Potter County jury found Adams guilty of misdemeanor assault July 17, and a judge sentenced him to serve nine days in jail and ordered him to pay a $2,000 fine…
Gak’s Amarillo attorney, Vince Nowak, said he suffered injuries to his head and his arm during the incident… Read more here
Posted in Amarillo, police, safety, Sudanese | Tagged: Aguer Gak, Amarillo, bounty hunter, immigration, Lost Boys of Sudan, refugees, resettlement, sudanese, Taser, Texas | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on October 28, 2013
A study commissioned by refugee resettlement groups in Cleveland finds that refugees in Cleveland are more likely to hold a job than native-born residents, more likely to send their children to college, and less likely to be on public assistance – after two years in Cleveland only 8 percent of refugee households are still receiving public assistance. Refugees are also more likely than U.S.-born citizens to start a business and to create a business that succeeds. They founded at least 38 businesses here in the last decade. An article in the Plains Dealer explains:
…A new study reveals that refugees — the world’s most desperate immigrants — tend to do well in Cleveland and often out-achieve their U.S.-born neighbors over time.
Eye-opening revelations include the fact that refugees are more likely to hold a job than native-born residents and more likely to send their children to college. After two years in Cleveland, researchers found, only 8 percent of refugee households are still receiving public assistance, a level of self-sufficiency that beats national norms.
The study by Chmura Economics & Analytics, which is being released Monday, challenges stereotypes and may illuminate a new economic development strategy. Far from burdening a community, refugees tend to assimilate quickly, find work, buy houses and often start businesses.
“Basically, we are business minded. That’s our caste,” Nar Pradhan explained in a soft Himalayan accent. “Cleveland is perfect for us. All of our family is here. All of us are employed.”
The study’s lead author, economist Daniel Meges, cautions the refugee community is minute — numbering fewer than 20,000 people in Greater Cleveland — and its economic impact would not match, say, a major new manufacturing plant.
Still, he said, he was surprised by the scale of economic activity generated by a little-known class of immigrants and concluded a depopulated city would be wise to welcome more of them.
“For a rather small investment, most of which is federal dollars, you bring in people who quickly find jobs and spend money,” Meges said. “These are people who would not be coming here otherwise and who tend to stay. By and a large, our refugees do OK.”…
In Greater Cleveland, the resettlement efforts fall to Catholic Charities, the International Services Center and US Together, an affiliate of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.
Recently, those three groups teamed up with several nonprofit and faith-based groups to form the Refugee Services Collaborative of Greater Cleveland.
With a grant from the Cleveland Foundation, the collaborative commissioned a study of the refugee community to gauge how it was faring and to plan how they could best help.
Researchers limited their survey to the 4,500 refugees who arrived since 2000 and to Cuyahoga County, where most of them live. From the study emerged unexpected discoveries.
- Seventy-five percent of the county’s refugees over age 16 are employed, compared to 57 percent of the general population.
- Most refugee families have more than one wage earner, allowing a decent standard of living even at minimum wage jobs. Nearly 250 refugees have bought houses.
- Refugees are more likely than U.S.-born citizens to start a business and to create a business that succeeds. They founded at least 38 businesses here in the last decade.
- Refugee households and refuge businesses combined contributed $45 million to the regional economy in 2012.
“Our hunch was this was true,” said Brian Upton, the assistant director of Building Hope in the City, a church-based group that works with refugees and that is part of the collaborative. “They are not takers. They are not a drain on our community. They are very entrepreneurial.”…
Tom Mrosko…directs the Office of Migration and Refugee Services of Cleveland Catholic Charities, the region’s busiest resettlement agency.
Cleveland-area refugees may do better than most because they arrive in modest numbers, Mrosko said. In a region that attracts few immigrants overall, refugee families get more attention from the schools, clinics and libraries that help assimilate new Americans… Read more here
Posted in Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services (Cleveland), employment/jobs for refugees, International Services Center (Cleveland), US Together | Tagged: catholic charities, Cleveland, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, immigration, International Services Center, public assistance, refugees, resettlement, US Together | Leave a 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 »