Friends of Refugees

A U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program Watchdog Group

Archive for the ‘Christian’ Category

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

Posted by Christopher Coen on February 6, 2016


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

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

The affiliate does not use any volunteers…

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

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

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

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

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

Attacks on refugees in Syracuse delivered with racial slurs

Posted by Christopher Coen on February 4, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

CEO of Catholic Charities defends refugees

Posted by Christopher Coen on January 30, 2016

The CEO of Catholic Charities Jim Gannon wrote an Op-ed piece in defense of refugees after The Albuquerque Journal wrote an editorial in support of anti-refugee legislation. He points out that John Brennan, director of the CIA, does not support the legislation. He also refutes the myth that the UN or Obama administration is favoring Muslim refugees. The Op-ed has more:

The Albuquerque Journal editorial board suggested in an editorial comment Monday that the U.S. Senate’s failure to pass the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act was a derailment of prudent legislation. They used the fear instilled by the violent terrorist acts of Paris as the motivation for the need.

They cited John Brennan, director of the CIA, who does not support the legislation. Brennan does think it’s prudent to understand how ISIS or other terrorist organizations might strategize the use of migrating refugees. He does not advocate suspension of welcoming refugees into our country, but somehow his opinion is stretched by the editorial staff as a disguise for the lack of substance in their argument.

While the editorial staff denies it’s suggesting religious discrimination, it does hint just enough to suggest President Obama is favoring the resettlement of Muslims over Christian. When the fact is over 90 percent of Syrians are of the Islamic faith. All their information regarding Christian’s persecution, proponents of stronger checks and senior U.S. security and law enforcement officials go nameless… Read more here

Posted in Catholic, Congress, legislation, New Mexico, Obama administration | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Evangelicals recommit to refugee resettlement

Posted by Christopher Coen on January 17, 2016


As in earlier statements of support in November, evangelicals are again reaffirming their support of refugee resettlement efforts. In these ongoing statements evangelicals are rejecting Republican fear-mongering and scapegoating of refugees. Evangelical leaders said more churches are now stepping forward to resettle refugees, and they emphasized that they offer their services based on need, not religious affiliation. An article at The Deseret News has the story:

WHEATON, Ill. — Rejecting fearmongering about the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the U.S., about 100 evangelical leaders are calling on Christians and their churches “to support ministries showing the love of Jesus to the most vulnerable, those in desperate need, and the hurting.”

“Our statement is to change a narrative of fear and instead focus on faith and compassion,” said Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research in Nashville, Tenn. “Our desire is not to resettle everybody in another country. When a house is burning down, we need to put out the fire and rescue people fleeing the fire.”

Meeting on Thursday (Dec. 17) at Wheaton College, outside of Chicago, evangelical leaders said in their statement, “We will motivate and prepare our churches and movements to care for refugees. We will not be motivated by fear but by love for God and others. … We cannot allow voices of fear to dominate. Instead, we commit to actions of love and compassion for refugees.” They said there are nearly 60 million displaced or refugee people worldwide, “a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented size”… Read more here

Posted in evangelical | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Christian Syrian asylee family finds hostile welcome

Posted by Christopher Coen on December 17, 2015



It turns out that the Syrian refugees who arrived in taxis at the Mexican border last month, and which right-wing political candidates and media outlets described as infiltrators, are a Christian Syrian family fleeing violence in Syria. The family presented themselves at the US-Mexican border to US Customs and Border Protection, which right-wing Breitbart News reported as being “caught”. Donald trump speculated that the family were members of the Islamic State. Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said that the husband and wife and two sons – aged two and five – could be the embodiment of America’s “worst nightmare”. They now find themselves indefinitely detained in Texas in separate detention centers, with no explanation given, and despite a July ruling by a federal judge in California who ordered that mothers with children should be released quickly from detention facilities. Texas is now considering licensing the facilities as “childcare centers”.  Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) claims the family has failed to establish they are “not a danger to the community or US security”. An article in The Guardian has more:

Throughout the seven months it took Samer and his family to make their way from Syria to the United States, he told himself that the risk and cost would be worth it they could swap their war-ravaged homeland for what he believed was a “land of opportunity, hope and peace”.

But the family’s arrival in the US has proved more stressful than the journey: days after they reached Texas they found themselves the unwitting subject of a national debate over potential terrorist infiltration.

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said that Samer, his wife and two sons – aged two and five – could be the embodiment of America’s “worst nightmare”. Donald Trump speculated that the family, who are Christian, could be members of Islamic State… Read more here

Posted in asylees, Christian, ICE, right-wing, Syrian, U.S. Customs & Border Protection | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The myth that the US government discriminated against Christian refugees

Posted by Christopher Coen on November 25, 2015


Some media outlets are trying to foment the false notion that the US and UK governments have discriminated against Syrian Christian refugees. The claim is that the discrimination is “unintentional”. How do the governments “unintentionally” discriminate against Syrian Christian refugees? The assertion is that Christian refugees are avoiding UNHCR refugee camps due to persecution by Islamists and instead housing in churches and Christian houses, and not applying to the refugee program. They claim State department statistics back up this claim since only 2 per cent of Syrian refugees accepted by the US since the conflict broke out in 2011 are Christian (53 Christian refugees compared to 2130 Muslim refugees, out of a total of 2216), though Christians make up 10 percent of the Syrian population. What this ignores is that refugees can also apply for refugee status either directly through US embassies, or though US government-trained NGOs. Secondly, Sunni Muslim refugees make up the bulk of the 2216 Syrian refugees that have so far arrived in the US because they represent 74 percent of the Syrian population and have been the main targets of the Assad regime. The Syrian regime is a coalition of minority groups, including Christians, under the Shia (Alawite) Muslim Al-Assad family. This is why Sunni Muslims are disproportionately represented among Syrian refugees in the US, and not because the US government is discriminating against Christians. An article at Factcheck explains:

From 2013 though Nov. 17, the U.N. says it has referred 22,427 Syrian refugees to the U.S. for “resettlement consideration.” The U.N. could not tell us how many of the 22,427 U.N. referrals were Christian, and the State Department did not know how many Christian Syrians may have been rejected by the U.S. But we know the U.S. is drawing from a limited pool of applicants provided by the U.N. from a predominately Muslim country.

So what religion are the Syrian refugees admitted to the U.S.?

The vast majority are Sunni Muslims, who make up 2,128, or 93 percent, of the Syrian refugees in the U.S. The Sunnis are about 74 percent of the Syrian population, according to the CIA, but “they tend to support the rebels and oppose the Assad regime, and Syrian Sunnis have been subject to ethnic cleansing at the hands of the Alawite minority in recent months,” as the Washington Post reported on Oct. 18, 2012.

This explains why Sunni Muslims are disproportionately represented among Syrian refugees in the U.S., Andrew Tabler, a Middle East expert at the Washington Institute, told us in an email.

Syrian President Bashar Hafez al-Assad’s regime is “made up of Alawites AND other minorities like Christians,” said Tabler, who wrote a 2011 book called “In the Lion’s Den: An Eyewitness Account of Washington’s Battle with Syria.”… Read more here

Posted in Alawites (Alawis), Christian, NGO's (Non-governmental organizations), State Department, Sunni, Syrian, UNHCR | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Evangelicals split on refugees who are Muslim

Posted by Christopher Coen on July 25, 2015

dividedWhile some evangelicals are saying that they must be wary of anti-immigrant sentiment due to its exploitation for political gain, others continue to scaremonger their congregants, claiming that the small number of high-profile terror attacks by Muslims who came here as refugees is a good enough reason to deny entry to the tens of thousands of Muslim refugees who settle here, running from terrorists, and who seek a return to living peaceful lives. Alex Mandes, director of The Immigration Alliance, a pro-refugee and immigration group of evangelical churches and ministries said, “To hear [Franklin Graham, head of Samaritans Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association] espouse [stopping all immigration of Muslims to the US] saddens me because I would hope a man who speaks for the church would speak for the gospel and not give political rhetoric that we hear.…My biggest hurt is that the church has no better answer than that? We have the great commission and the great commandment. Migration has always been a tool that God has used to bring people to himself.” An article in Christianity Today explains the issue:

…“We are under attack by Muslims at home and abroad,” Franklin Graham, head of Samaritans Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, wrote on his public Facebook page on July 17. “We should stop all immigration of Muslims to the US until this threat with Islam has been settled.” At press time, more than 167,000 people had “liked” the post.

Graham’s comments came one day after 24-year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, born in Kuwait and living in Chattanooga, Tennessee, shot seven people, killing five, outside a military recruiting office. Police killed Abdulazeez in an exchange of gunfire a short time later. All five of those killed were US servicemen.

Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration, which advocates for cutbacks on immigration, echoed Graham’s concerns…
But [Jenny Yang, vice president of advocacy and policy at World Relief] says those comments could backfire and lead to policy changes that hurt Christians fleeing persecution.

“My fear is that if we say, ‘Muslim refugees shouldn’t come in,’ then it will probably be harder for Christian refugees to come in,” Yang said….

Christian groups that assist refugees have run into challenges from anti-refugee sentiment at the grassroots, driven in part by other recent fatal assaults by radicalized Muslims:

  • The April 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that killed 3 and injured 264.
  • The June 2014 killing of two gay men Seattle.
  • The September 2014 beheading of a woman in Moore, Oklahoma.

Muslim immigrants have also been targets of violence. Earlier this year, three young students—Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha—were gunned down in their North Carolina apartment…

Alex Mandes, director of The Immigration Alliance, a pro-refugee and immigration group of evangelical churches and ministries, said evangelicals should be wary of anti-immigrant sentiment, which can be exploited for political gain.
He said he was disappointed to hear Graham’s comments…. Read more here

Posted in evangelical, Muslim, security/terrorism, World Relief | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

No birth control referrals for raped unaccompanied immigrant girls, say two faith based contractors

Posted by Christopher Coen on March 5, 2015

girl_symbol Refugee resettlement contractors World Relief and the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) are demanding religious exemption for the requirement that federally funded organizations that house unaccompanied migrant children provide victims of sexual abuse with “unimpeded access to emergency medical treatment, crisis intervention services, emergency contraception, and sexually transmitted infections prophylaxis, in accordance with professionally accepted standards of care, where appropriate under medical or mental health professional standards.” In an obvious abuse of religious exemption standards they claim that a mere referral to emergency contraception or related would offend their personal religious beliefs, nor should they have to notify federal agency personnel who could instead do the referral. Essentially they want to stand in the way of unaccompanied immigrant girls and prevent them from getting the pregnancy services they chose. This, while taking public funds for a public program to care for these girls. The USCCB had also wanted a federal grant to provide services to victims of human trafficking, while similarly denying the women and girls access to a full range of legally permissible gynecological and obstetric care. Thankfully the group did not get the grant. The details of this most recent religious exemption abuse are found in an article at Think Progress:

Estimates suggest that anywhere between 60 and 80 percent of migrant women and girls are raped on their journey as they travel across the southern United States border. But many of the organizations that provide medical care to these migrants are refusing to provide emergency contraception or make pregnancy-related referrals to girls who have been raped. What’s more, the religious organizations that operate these groups are opposing a move by the Obama administration to address epidemic rape of young unaccompanied migrants by requiring contraceptive care. During last year’s border surge, a total of 68,541 unaccompanied children streamed through the southern Texas border from Latin America. Almost half of the children apprehended by border patrol agents were girls. Rape and sexual assault are “major motivating factors” for why girls flee their home countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, a Women’s Refugee Commission report found last October. The report stated that children on the run who traveled with smuggling guides known as coyotes reported sexual abuse, including one child who “told of how women and girls were kept in a separate room and could be heard screaming while being raped.” And even once in the United States, some migrants alleged that sexual assault (especially among LGBT detaineestook place in detentionsometimes by guards. Those children may not receive adequate care after border patrol agents pass them onto group shelter homes, the majority of which are operated by faith-based organizations such as the Baptist Child and Family Services (BCFS), which received $190 million in a single grant last year. But it was the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), which received roughly $22.1 million, that sent a letter last week objecting to a Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA)regulation by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) that would require federally funded organizations that house unaccompanied migrant children to provide victims of sexual abuse with “unimpeded access to emergency medical treatment, crisis intervention services, emergency contraception, and sexually transmitted infections prophylaxis, in accordance with professionally accepted standards of care, where appropriate under medical or mental health professional standards.” The rule includes a clause that would allow faith-based organizations to offer external pregnancy-related referrals for unaccompanied children… Read more here

Posted in Catholic, children, churches, faith-based, Guatemalan, Honduran, ORR, safety, Salvadoran, teenagers, teens, U.S. Customs & Border Protection, unaccompanied minors, USCCB, women, World Relief, young adults | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Attacker of Albuquerque Iraqi Catholic refugee yelled anti-Muslim obscenities

Posted by Christopher Coen on June 17, 2014


An Iraqi Catholic refugee alleges she was assaulted in her Albuquerque apartment and robbed of $20,000 in gold. Now the FBI is investigating the case as a possible federal hate crime. An article in the Daily Reporter covers the story:

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — An Iraqi Catholic refugee who was assaulted in her Albuquerque apartment appears to be the victim of a hate crime by an attacker who yelled obscenities about Muslims, police said.

According to Albuquerque police, a man last week forced his way into the home of Seham Jaber, shouting nasty remarks about Muslims and punching her in the head and stomach. The intruder then tore up her family’s citizenship papers in the June 5 attack, investigators said.

“The irony is the individual thought the family was Muslim, and they’re actually refugees from Iraq who are Catholic,” Albuquerque police spokesman Simon Drobik said.

Jaber, who speaks Arabic, told police the unknown assailant also stole at least $20,000 in gold, which represented her family’s life savings. The assailant also stole jewelry, she said.

“No house, no car. It was all in gold,” Saad Sajet, Jaber’s husband, told the Albuquerque Journal.

The suspect was described as wearing a mask, jeans and a yellow T-shirt.

No arrest has been made.

The FBI now is investigating the case as a possible federal hate crime, Albuquerque police said Friday… Read more here

Posted in anti-Islamic, Catholic, dangerous neighborhoods, FBI, hate crimes, Iraqi, New Mexico, police, women | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Canadian priest expoited refugee workers

Posted by Christopher Coen on October 24, 2012

A priest in Alberta exploited refugee workers in a scheme that involved charging high rates for the workers while paying the refugees low wages under threat of deportation. An article at Notes From the Underground has the details:

It appears that a certain…priest in Alberta whose business was involved in exploiting refugees and immigrant workers may soon be returning to active clerical duty.

Fr John Lipinski, a priest of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Ecumenical Patriarchate, through his Alberta firm, Kihew, advertised and searched in Polish papers for immigrants and refugees for available electrical positions.  The firm would then charge high rates while paying the immigrants low wages under threat of deportation…

Court was told Kihew made about one million dollars through the scheme.The court found that Kihew contracted out the foreign workers to several businesses at a high hourly rate of pay but the workers themselves made very little... Read more here

Posted in Canadian refugee resettlement pgrm, Christian, employment/jobs for refugees, human trafficking, scams | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »


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