Archive for the ‘CWS’ Category
Posted by Christopher Coen on April 29, 2013
The U.S. State Department has not responded to many questions posed by a media outlet in Athens, Georgia which has looked at the refugee resettlement program, though a recent article by the newspaper is pro-resettlement. The state government claims refugees are undue burden on limited state resources. Resettlement agencies claim refugees pay taxes, buy homes, and support education, and invest in their communities. They also claim that fewer refugees allowed to resettle in the state this year has resulted in a reduction in services to refugees already here. In the meantime resettlement agencies have also been making a late attempt to spread refugees out to other parts of metro-Atlanta and the state so as not to overburden local resettlement sites. An article in the Athens Banner-Herald discusses these and other related issues:
…Resettlement agencies prefer to place new refugees close to family or existing ethnic communities to ease the transition to life in the U.S. Family ties and communities are often bundled around resources – agency offices, English language classes, jobs – necessary to acclimation.
…the Georgia Department of Human Services to ask for a reduction of refugees coming to the state in 2013, citing school district budget shortfalls, and health and safety concerns. The U.S. Department of State would not confirm if other states had made similar requests.
“We regularly receive feedback from stakeholders involved in the refugee resettlement process and take those into account as we finalize the placement plan for the upcoming year,” wrote state department spokesperson Laura Seal in an email.
The department declined to say how regularly these adjustments are made.
Georgia is home to the seventh largest refugee population in the country. Media reports have not listed other states as requesting reductions.
Georgia’s rationale for the cuts doesn’t hold water, according to the agencies that support resettlement. Problems allegedly caused by refugees often are bottled in DeKalb and Fulton counties. But the impact of the cuts has impacted services to refugees throughout the state, refugee advocates said, and has strained the state and agency relationship supposed to benefit refugees…
…In August, just after refugee agencies submitted their annual capacity proposal to the U.S. State Department, a number it uses to determine refugee placement in Georgia, DHS sent a letter to the federal agency requesting a 50 percent reduction in refugee resettlings in the state.
The reduction, in effect, ended up closer to 20 percent, though an examination of arrivals in the first two quarters of 2013 shows no sign of abatement. The reduction lowered the maximum amount of refugees coming to the state, potentially with little impact on overall arrivals, but directly impacted the budgets of aid agencies, which receive federal funding based on the number of expected resettlements…
…[state officials have complained that refugees have incurred costs the state can’t handle, yet] Repeated requests for detailed information on costs incurred by refugees went unfilled by the Georgia DHS. A February article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted a state official estimating the cost at $6.7 million, an amount that included education costs… Read more here
Posted in capacity, funding, Georgia, moratorium / restriction / reduction, Office of Admissions, openess and transparency in government, Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services of Atlanta (RRISA), Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services of Atlanta (RRISA) | Tagged: Athens, Coalition of Refugee Service Agencies, CRSA, georgia, IRC, refugee family services, refugees, resettlement, RRISA, World Relief | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on April 26, 2013
A volunteer who assists refugees in Knoxville contacted us to tell us what is happening in that city. He claims that refugees are being injured at work in alarming numbers and that Bridge Refugee Services has not taken sufficient action to protect them. He claims that agency even sided with the temporary employment agency that placed the refugees, and is more concerned about keeping up their employment placements than they are with the refugees’ welfare.
In his letter to us he said he helps New Americans in Knoxville who have been here for a few years but that lately he has received many complaints from the new refugees. The refugees he helps are those who were resettled by Bridge Refugee Services and in the last three years the refugees who have arrived in Knoxville have encountered low quality services, especially employment assistance. He said that the refugees are employed with companies that do not provide full-time benefits after 90 days of employment, and more importantly, do not provide a safe working environment. He claims that when refugees are injured at work that Bridge Refugee Services has not been advocating for them. An Ethiopian refugee broke his hand pushing a heavy cart at work and claimed the resettlement agency was not helpful. The writer said that in the last eight months four refugees have been injured at work and none of them received any compensation. When the refugees talk to Bridge staff they say that the agency sides with the employment agency that contracts with employers who want low wage workers. He says believes that Bridge is doing this because the agency wants to keep good relations with employers so that they may place more new refugees in jobs to show the State Department high employment figures. He said he tried to talk to Bridge staff but he feels that the employment manager has no respect for anyone. He believes that she is forcing refugees into work they can’t do or into work that is not safe for them.
If anyone knows more about this situation please contact us
These are some older post on this resettlement contractor – here and here).
Posted in Bridge Refugee and Sponsorship Services, Bridge Refugee and Sponsorship Services, employment services, employment/jobs for refugees, Ethiopian, Knoxsville, safety, volunteers | Tagged: Bridge Refugee Services, employment, injuries, injury, Knoxville, resettlement, rtefugees, workplace | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on April 23, 2013
An apartment complex in Columbus where refugee resettlement agencies placed refugees because of low rental rates is riddled with 63 code violations. A Nepali-Bhutanese refugee who lives in a unit with his family says his unit was plagued with bedbugs last year and said he was worried about his family’s safety. Another Nepali-Bhutanese refugee said the staircases are broken and lights don’t work. Community Refugee and Immigration Services and World Relief Columbus stopped placing refugees in the complex after last year’s fire publicity, but have not evacuated the other refugees to better housing despite the extensive code violations. The units are poorly maintained, have bedbugs and roaches, leaky and defective plumbing and electrical problems, according to an inspection report. I think this case case shows the wisdom of placing refugees only according to rental unit prices while ignoring basic safety, repair and habitability issues which, by the way, are violations of the State Department refugee contracts. Will the State Department be taking any action against its refugee contractors in Columbus? I’ll believe it when I see it. An article in The Columbus Dispatch has the details of this story:
Columbus prosecutors say that a North Side apartment complex that rents to scores of refugees is riddled with code violations that owners have ignored for months.
Prosecutors filed a complaint yesterday with Franklin County Environmental Court against Summit Park Apartments. The complaint says a code-enforcement inspector has found 63 violations since September.
The inspection report said multiple units were poorly maintained, had bedbugs and roaches, leaky and defective plumbing and electrical problems…
In three inspections since November, building inspectors found wooden balconies that had deteriorated to the point that they were unsafe. The inspections also determined that concrete and steel balconies there must be evaluated and repaired…
… In August, families from Bhutan, Somalia and other countries were displaced after fire ravaged one of the buildings, at 4349 Walford St. The fire started in a fenced-in storage area that had been filled with furniture.
Fire investigators said it was arson. At least two refugee agencies, , have not placed anyone at the complex since then.
“They still had code violations that hadn’t got taken care of that got worse after the fire,” said Kay Lipovsky, office manager for World Relief Columbus.
Agencies place refugees at complexes such as Summit Park because rents are inexpensive, she said.
One resident, Yam Subba, a Bhutanese Nepali refugee who lives in a unit with his wife, their 2-year-old daughter and his mother, said his unit was plagued with bedbugs last year. Subba, 28, said he was worried about his family’s safety.
Another Bhutanese Nepali refugee, Moti Rai, who lives in a unit with his father, said the staircases are broken and lights don’t work. Still, Rai, 27, said he lived in a small hut in a refugee camp in Bhutan. “I think this is better than that.”… Read more here
Posted in apartment building fires, bed bugs, Columbus, Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS), Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS), housing, housing, substandard, Nepali Bhutanese, safety, World Relief | Tagged: bedbugs, bhutanese, code violations, Columbus, Community Refugee and Immigration Services, nepalese, roaches, slum lord, Summit Park Apartments, World Relief | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on April 19, 2013
The State Department visit to Indiana this week highlights an important issue – our national refugee resettlement program requires refugees to find employment early to gain economic self-sufficiency, but that often comes at the cost of the refugees learning English. The resettlement program need to find solutions and carry them out so that the refugees can do both. An Indy Star article covering in part the State Department’s visit to Indianapolis indirectly addresses the issue:
About a year ago, executives at a fulfillment center on the Near Southside heard about Indianapolis’ growing Burmese population. The company, which had long prided itself on hiring minorities, decided to help out by offering some entry-level jobs to those in need of employment.
That gesture led to a visit Wednesday from a delegation of Washington and United Nations officials to the OSP Group site on Southeastern Avenue…
…In deference to Burmese employees, the company, which ships nearly 16 million packages a year from Indianapolis, uses signs with numbers and symbols instead of words so workers need not be literate in English to understand…
…Bartlett and Shelly Pitterman, a regional representative from the UNHCR, talked briefly with one of those employees, Mang Sin Cer, 29, who took a short break from sorting packages.
Speaking in her native Chin language through an interpreter, Cer softly and succinctly answered their questions. She has worked for the company for about a year. She came to the United States a few years ago through Malaysia.
Friends baby-sit her nearly 3-year-old while she works. Others give her a ride to work from her home on the Southside.
As for the job? Sometimes she gets tired, but “everything is all right,” Cer said through the translator.
Then, Bartlett asked whether she was learning any English.
“A little bit,” Cer said.
When Bartlett heard that the company did not have a program to help employees learn English, he suggested, “You should think about one.”… Read more here
Posted in economic self-sufficiency, employment/jobs for refugees, Exodus Refugee Immigration, Indianapolis, language, Office of Admissions, UN (United Nations) | Tagged: Burma, economic self sufficiency, English, Exodus Refugee Immigration, Indianapolis, Larry Bartlett, Myanmar, OSP Group, refugees, resettlement | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on April 4, 2013
The Heartland Alliance refugee resettlement agency in Chicago claims it doesn’t have the funding to help its refugee clients enroll their children in preschool. But Interfaith Refugee and Immigration Ministries (now RefugeeONE) says kids who don’t go to preschool start school at a deficit because of the language. That’s why it began helping its refugee clients with preschool enrollment a year ago. Yet, the process of enrollment is confusing, time-consuming and difficult to navigate. [Note: article from 2009, apparently republished now] An article in Catalyst-Chicago explains:
Less than half of the children of immigrant parents are in preschool, one study found. Advocates say families need extra help navigating the pre-k maze.
When Krishna Rimal left a refugee camp in the South Asian nation of Bhutan for Chicago, he dreamed of a better education for his two children.
After the family arrived in December, Rimal’s son was quickly enrolled in 1st grade. But his daughter, Anisha, who turned 5 after Sept. 1, has been unable to get into preschool. She is not eligible to enroll in kindergarten until next year.
Social workers at Heartland Alliance, a refugee resettlement agency that is helping the family with English classes and job training, told Rimal that free preschool is available, but they don’t have time to help him find one and fill out the paperwork. Rimal doesn’t speak enough English to do it himself.
“We are new, and we don’t know where to go,” says Rimal, 34, who lives in Edgewater.
Ashley Ginter, youth case manager at Heartland, has given the family some paper and crayons for Anisha, but says she can’t do more. Ginter has a caseload of 140 children from kindergarten to 12th grade. “There would need to be another person, part time, to help with all the families with young kids,” she says. “We just don’t have the funding.”
Experts in early childhood education say that children of immigrants and refugees benefit tremendously from preschool. At the very least, they expand their English vocabulary at an early age. But their parents’ poor English skills and lack of awareness keep many of the kids at home.
Just 46 percent of children of immigrants were enrolled in preschool, compared to 63 percent of other children, according to a 2006 study published in Social Science Quarterly…
…Until a year ago, families being served by Interfaith Refugee and Immigration Ministries weren’t offered help enrolling their children in preschool. Amy Hill’s job as acting youth program coordinator didn’t include the younger children. But Hill says she was bothered by seeing several families with kids at home during the day. As a former teacher, she said she knew the kids “would already start school at a deficit because of the language.” So she began investigating preschool programs.
Even for Hill, the process of getting an immigrant child enrolled in preschool was confusing and laborious. Not every elementary school offers preschool, so calls have to be made to the district’s early childhood education office to find out what is available in a certain neighborhood. Some programs fill up as early as the previous year. More slots are available in half-day programs, but most families need full-day because of childcare issues. Applications can be complicated because families must prove that they meet income guidelines.
And sometimes, enrolling isn’t as simple as filling out some forms. Hill says that she had to call one school several times after turning in Head Start applications last spring for two children from Burundi and one from Burma. She eventually discovered that the school required all parents to meet in the fall for an interview process. Nobody was given an appointment, so many parents had to show up for several days to get an interview.
Knowing how much difficulty she had, Hill says families “on their own, would have never been able to do this.” Just 15 percent of the 120 kids on Hill’s caseload are preschool age, but she estimates spending a disproportionately greater amount of time working on their enrollment.
“They need to make it more uniform throughout,” Hill says of preschool enrollment policies. “There needs to be one way to do it, and one schedule.”… Read more here
Posted in Chicago, children, failure to enroll refugee children in school, Heartland Alliance, RefugeeONE (formerly, Interfaith Refugee & Immigration Ministries), RefugeeONE (formerly, Interfaith Refugee & Immigration Ministries), school for refugee children | Tagged: children, heartland alliance, immigrants, Interfaith Refugee and Immigration Ministries, parents, preschool, refugees, resettlement, school | 2 Comments »
Posted by Christopher Coen on March 28, 2013
Someone wrote to us recently to tell us about an Iraqi refugee who was not received at the airport by the local refugee resettlement agency in Knoxville, Tennessee – apparently Bridge Refugee Services. The refugee spent six hours alone, fearful and hungry until the airport police held him for questioning. The person reports that the police gave him a hard time due, apparently, to his limited English and inability to effectively explain his case. He then remembered to show them his refugee papers and police contacted Bridge Refugee Services who placed the Iraqi refugee in a cheap and dangerous motel for the weekend, claiming that they would arrange for his housing. They gave him a few microwaveable meals and a bottle of soda – not even a restaurant meal, which would have been proper had the agency actually been surprised by his arrival (a prepared, ready-to-eat meal is the minimum requirement in the refugee program). It was such a negative experience that he felt no trust toward Bridge Refugee Services and decided to move to Ohio to be near a friend.
Posted in Bridge Refugee and Sponsorship Services, Bridge Refugee and Sponsorship Services, Iraqi, Knoxsville, meeting refugees at the airport | Tagged: airport, arrival, Bridge Refugee Services, Church World Service, Episcopal Migration Ministries, Iraqi, Knoxsville, meal, refugees, resettlement | 3 Comments »
Posted by Christopher Coen on November 12, 2012
Indianapolis has become a major hub for Chin refugees from Myanmar. Now, Chin refugees are also making Columbus a favored destination for settlement. Chin has more than 40 dialects, which can make it difficult for schools and agencies to find interpreters. Although in this case it is the Lai Chin who are settling in Columbus’ Far West Side. An article in The Columbus Dispatch explains:
…during a visit to Columbus, Hai Vung Lian was impressed with what he saw. With more research, he discovered that the city — particularly the Far West Side — had a lot to offer his countrymen and women who needed a home: a steady job market and affordable housing near good schools, public transportation and hospitals.
“I thought we could start a community here,” Lian, 47, said of the Chin population, who have fled the southern Asian country of Myanmar, also known as Burma.
He encouraged Chin families living in refugee settlements outside Myanmar to start anew in Columbus. What started as a trickle in 2007 has become a steady stream of Chin refugees.
Community Refugee and Immigration Services in Columbus has placed 137 Chins since October 2007, Executive Director Angie Plummer said.
Another 13 are scheduled to arrive before the end of November.
One problem with resettlement efforts has been the language barrier. Chin has more than 40 dialects, making it difficult for schools and agencies to find interpreters…
Lai Chin is the common tongue for the 61 Chin students enrolled in South-Western…
According to the United Nations refugee agency, 8,562 refugees from Myanmar were resettled in the United States between January and June this year. More than 1,300, including the Chin, have been resettled in Ohio since 2008.
The largest community of Myanmar refugees is in Indianapolis. There, 3,909 refugees have been settled after arriving from overseas. Because of others moving within the U.S., the Indianapolis population has grown to about 9,000, about 6,400 of them Chin refugees, said Elaisa Vahnie, the executive director of the Burmese-American Community Institute in Indianapolis.
Vahnie said Indianapolis, like Columbus, is a transportation hub where unskilled workers can find warehouse and manufacturing jobs… Read more here
Posted in Chin, Columbus, Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS), Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS), Indianapolis, language, refugee magnet city, schools, secondary migration, refugee | Tagged: Chin, Columbus, Lai, refugees, resettlement | 3 Comments »
Posted by Christopher Coen on June 19, 2012
Last October police shot to death a man who struggled with them after trying to rob a Nepali Bhutanese refugee at a low-income North Side apartment complex where local resettlement agencies have placed them. Another media look into the situation at the apartment complexes shows that many refugees’ apartments have been burglarized since they began to arrive in the Columbus area four years ago. People also walk up to them and ask for money, with some refugees handing over cash just so they’ll be left alone and then not reporting the incidents to police. The article, however, also gives a clue about police-community relations by noting that police arrested a Nepali Bhutanese refugee for littering when he merely dropped a store receipt outside a convenience store. (Arrested for littering?) An article in The Columbus Dispatch has the story:
When Narayan Sharma returned to his North Side apartment on June 6, he was stunned to discover that someone had broken in.
He said he was shocked that the thieves apparently had no fear of being caught when they hauled out his 42-inch television, a laptop computer, a checkbook and cash during the daytime burglary.
Crime, Sharma said, was not a big problem during his 16 years in a refugee camp in the Himalayan country of Nepal. But it’s something he and other Bhutanese Nepali refugees have had to deal with since they began to arrive in the Columbus area four years ago.
One of the reasons is where many of them live — concentrated in several apartment complexes near Morse Road in the Northland area.
“Our expectation is to have safety and security,” said Bhim Basnet, who lives in the Breckenridge Apartments with his wife and four children, the oldest a 16-year-old girl, the youngest a 9-month-old son…
…He said he would like to see police patrolling the area. Community leaders and groups who work with the refugees estimate that their number has grown to more than 2,000 in little more than a year.
Sharma said that a number of refugees’ apartments have been burglarized and that people walk up to the refugees and ask for money. Some refugees hand over cash just so they’ll be left alone, said Damaru Adhikari, who works at the US Together refugee-resettlement agency.
Sharma…said: “They find easy targets, and people don’t complain.”
On Feb. 29, a 35-year-old Bhutanese Nepali refugee was arrested for littering outside a North Side convenience store. He said he dropped a receipt.
The charge, a third-degree misdemeanor, ultimately was dismissed, but the man had to pay $92 in court costs.
The incident “really scared” him, said his attorney, Edward Forman. “I can’t imagine in a million years he would be arrested for that.”… Read more here
Posted in Columbus, Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS), Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS), dangerous neighborhoods, housing, Nepali Bhutanese, police, US Together | Tagged: bhutanese, Breckenridge Apartments, burglary, Columbus, Community Refugee and Immigration Services, Nepali, police, refugees, resettlement, US Together | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on May 8, 2012
The Minnesota Council of Churches, an affiliate of EMM and CWS, is opening its first outstate (outside the Twin Cities) office in Mankato. Mankato is a small city and site of Minnesota State University and a Mayo Clinic facility. The top four employers are Immanuel St. Joseph’s – Mayo Health System, Minnesota State University, the public school district and MRCI Industrial Operation, a temporary employment services provider. An article in the Mankato Free Press explains:
MANKATO — When the Minnesota Council of Churches was deciding where to build its first outstate office for refugee assistance, Mankato stood out.
That wasn’t because refugees were coming here directly from their home countries. Mankato isn’t designated by the federal government as a first stop for refugees.
But refugees who landed in other American cities were making their way to Mankato and bringing relatives, said Rachele King, director of refugee services for the nonprofit.
She heard good things about Mankato, both as a place to live and one that helps refugees.
The Mankato office opened April 1, but is taking time to figure out what other nonprofits and governments are doing here to avoid competing with them… Read more here
Posted in Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS), Minnesota, Minnesota Council of Churches, Minnesota Council of Churches | Tagged: Church World Service, CWS, EMM, Episcopal Migration Ministries, Mankato, Minnesota Council of Churches, refugees, resettlement, Twin Cities | Leave a Comment »