Friends of Refugees

A U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program Watchdog Group

Archive for the ‘CWS’ Category

Refuge placements to Amarillo restricted

Posted by Christopher Coen on February 23, 2014

amarillo

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 »

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

Posted by Christopher Coen on January 27, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Refugees abused at Bridge Refugee Services in Knoxville

Posted by Christopher Coen on January 15, 2014

knoxville

A gentleman who contacted us back in April (history is here and here) about conditions for refugees resettled via Bridge Refugee Services in Knoxville contacted us again recently to give an update and more information.

He said there have been at least five injuries of refugees at the factories where they were placed by the temporary employment agencies that Bridge uses to get refugees employed.

One refugee reportedly injured his shoulder at work and Bridge would not do anything to help. An Ethiopian refugee broke his hand at Quality Bakery Products. African refugees were also injured at Ifco Systems pallets division in Knoxville. Again, the agency would not help. Another refugee injured his lungs, inhaling a chemical at a Cooper Standard factory (production of plastic automobile bumper parts). Yet another refugee passed out at that factory, also due to the chemicals. He now coughs a lot and has respiratory problems. A third refugee who worked at the factory developed a rash on his body, which may have been due to the chemicals used there. Yet another refugee, an older Iraqi gentleman, severely injured his shoulder pushing a heavy cart at the Goodwill warehouse on Middlebrook Pike. The cart came back at him and he put his arms out to stop it. He needed surgery to repair the shoulder and was off work for months. He said Goodwill treated him well so he decided not to sue. At Custom Food Inc. exposure to spices caused sinus problems for an Ethiopian refugee who has allergies. He requested to switch jobs but Bridge’s employment coordinator refused to help him. Finally, at Propak Logistics’ pallets repair section many Iraqi refugees reported injuries for years to Bridge’s employment coordinator but the coordinator ignored their complaints and sided with the company against the refugees.

Bridge has arranged work via Express Employment (and Adico), for whom the refugees work. Many refugees sign papers not knowing what they are signing; some do not read English. Under this arrangement with Express a factory pays $9 per hour but refugees only get a bit more than $7 per hour. The work is unstable, with refugees working a week and then being off a week.

A former case manager also sent us information about the agency and pointed out that the refugee employment figures are dishonest as most of the refuges have only temporary employment that does not help them to pay rent and be self-sufficient. The nature of the temp jobs also means that the refugees will be unemployed just a short time after the agency reports them employed to the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) at 90 days and 180 days. (This, however, is a problem throughout the refugee program, and it doesn’t seem that the the ORR has much of an interest in requiring that resettlement agencies report if refugees are working at temporary or non-temporary jobs.)

Many of the interpreters quit in 2012 and 2013 after the agency’s officer manager lowered their pay from $10 per hour to $8, and since that time the agency has picked the refugees up at the airport upon their arrival without interpreters for refugees from Myanmar (Burma) and Africa. The agency then takes the refugees to their apartments and gives flawed home safety orientation involving just pointing to things and turning things on and off in an attempt to show them how things work. It then takes weeks before they find an interpreter. When the case manager voiced his concerns about this to the office manager she responded that it was case managers’ responsibility to bring an interpreter. He asked her how he could use one that is not contracted. She said they would look into but that it was his responsibility to get one and that it was okay to have a volunteer interpreter.

These refugees don’t receive proper attention because nobody can communicate with them. The African refugees compared services the agency was giving them to other refugees and realized they were receiving fewer services and less attention in all areas. As a result, when the African refugees started their own organization to help their own community they refused to work with Bridge.

The case manager points out that the Bridge office in Chattanooga is more organized than the office in Knoxville due to the qualifications, dedication and experience of the office coordinator in Chattanooga. She comes in everyday at 8:30 am and leaves at 4:30 pm unlike the one in Knoxville who comes in at 9am or 10am and sneaks out around 2pm-3pm yet submits weekly time sheets indicating 40 hours of work. The agency lists the working hours on the door as 8:30am to 4:30pm, yet if refugees and others come in at 8:30am the only people they find are the financial manager and the case managers. If the case managers are not there the office stays closed until 9:30am.

The  Knoxville office manager also wastes staff time with pointless staff meetings early on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. On Friday they have two staff meetings; one for the Executive Director with meeting agendas that contain her personal events such as her son’s birthday and her marriage anniversary, and a second meeting with the office manager. The meetings consume most of the day until 2pm, at which time the Director and the office manager leave the office to go home while the rest of the staff stay to finish their paperwork, as Friday is supposed to be a day for that and not for meetings.

The case manager tried many times to tell the administration that their everyday meetings are just a barrier that prevents them from doing their jobs but the office manager insisted on enforcing these meetings. He said she has no management skills and is only in the office manager position because the Director of Bridge is her close friend. The office manager also told the staff that no one is allowed to communicate with the agency’s board of directors, EMM and CWS (Bridge’s national affiliates), or TOR (Tennessee Office for Refugees); this to prevent any leaks of information to those organizations.  He said anyone who dares to violate that rule knows they may face retaliation and lose their job.

He also reports that Bridge is placing refugees in apartments in a bad downtown neighborhood with a lot buying, selling and use of street drugs. The apartments have carpeting that smells bad, broken plumbing, and heavy insect infestations.

Transportation of refugees was yet another area of violation by the agency. A van donated in 2011 used to transport refugees had mechanical problems in the steering wheel as well as no air-conditioning. The case manager told the managers that the vehicle was not safe to use but it was clear to him that money in the budget for their salaries (the director and the office manager who do not even work the full-time they are supposed to work) was more important than refugee safety issues. The heat inside the vehicle was so unbearable in the summer months that a staff member was overcome by the heat and had to be taken to the ER by ambulance. The agency only stopped using the van and sold it to the junkyard when the major mechanical problem in the steering wheel prevented it from being driven.

He pointed to another serious problem – that the agency did not have a shredder for years until recently in 2013. He used his own shredder that he brought from home. He says that every-time he spoke to the current administrators to give the staff a shredder they ignored him just as the previous executive director did when he told her a case manager who quit in 2010 threw boxes filled with confidential papers in the trash. She wasn’t concerned so he and another staff member dived in the dumpster to recover those boxes. The current administrators also do not care if staff use their own equipment to get the job done, such as their own laptops and other devices needed – a violation of HIPAA policy (privacy law). The agency is also violating the HIPAA policy by having unauthorized people being involved with refugee clients’ personal medical information, e.g. the office manager talks about the clients’ medical issues in front of her husband who often comes to the office.

The agency is run so poorly by the current administration, and with a lack of supervision from the board of directors, that the most highly qualified and decorated case workers have quit the agency since 2010 – in 2010 three case workers quit; in 2011 two quit; and three in 2013. In early 2013 the only two case managers left quit in the same month due to the hopeless situation with the management.

By the way, the most recent State Department monitoring report for this agency seems to have occurred back in 2006 — at least that is the most recent one that the State Department has released to us. The agency had a different director and case managers at that time.

Posted in abuse, Bridge Refugee and Sponsorship Services, Bridge Refugee and Sponsorship Services, Burma/Myanmar, Burundian, community/cultural orientation, cultural/community orientation, post arrival, dangerous neighborhoods, employment abuses, employment/jobs for refugees, Ethiopian, home safety orientation, housing, housing, substandard, Iraqi, Knoxsville, language, language interpretation/translation, lack of, rats and roaches, transportation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Refugee teen bullied in Syracuse

Posted by Christopher Coen on December 1, 2013

human_dignity

A refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo reports that when she arrived in Syracuse for resettlement she was bullied in high school. She fell back on her survival skills from back home and eventually summoned the courage to stand up for herself. A resettlement agency in the city also reports that it can no longer find refugees steady work “en masse” with manufacturing employers who have now left the area (of course the State Department refugee contract individualized case management requirement should not have allowed such an approach to begin with). WRVO Public Media has the story:

…For Lorina Mpinga, who was a teenager when she arrived from D.R.C, figuring out high school without knowing English proved to be a massive challenge.

Mpinga was bullied her first year in high school. She had a hard time standing up for herself at first without English language skills, but eventually got the courage.

“I have to make sure I tell them and let them know who I am, not a little scared girl and I don’t want to live a life of being scared of going to school every day,” she said.

Asked whether or not being bullied as a teenager put a damper on coming here, Mpinga quickly dismisses the idea.

“I know, from before, that you always have to stand up for yourself” and being a teenager anywhere in the world is tough, she added…

City officials recognize the refugee community as a source of new population and key to revitalizing the Northside, but for now it’s still a working class neighborhood that has its fair share of crime and vacancy…

the factory jobs that used to be open to immigrants with little or no English are gone.

…the factory jobs that used to be open to immigrants with little or no English are gone.

“There are no places like G.E. anymore, there are no places where you could move up doing a manual labor type job [and] all you need is training basically,” Susan Ohlsen from InterFaith Works said.

Job training programs run through various non-profits help new Americans get jobs in health care or construction, but finding refugees steady work en masse is a challenge, according to Ohslen… Read more here

Posted in Congolese, employment services, Interfaith Works, Interfaith Works, schools, Syracuse, teens | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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

Posted by Christopher Coen on October 19, 2013

Reopening 

Although the federal government shutdown has now ended, refugee resettlement won’t restart until at least Oct. 28. Complex approval, documentation and travel logistics will also delay many refugee arrivals for months. Some refugees may be required to reapply for medical approvals or security clearances that are good for a limited time, and depending on the country, refugees also may have to reapply for exit visas. An article in USAToday explains:

…roughly 4,500 refugees who had been cleared to come to the United States in October — including 73 heading for Kentucky — but now face delays that resettlement officials say may take months for some to resolve…

Now more than 2 weeks old, the shutdown forced the U.S. State Department to suspend most refugee arrivals and enact a travel moratorium, partly because the financial, medical and federal benefits or services aren’t available in some areas to help newcomers from Somalia, Iraq, Myanmar, Bhutan and a host of other countries, officials said.

Although most expect Congress to reach an agreement to reopen the government, resettlement won’t restart until at least Oct. 28 — and even then, the shutdown’s cascading effect on complex approval, documentation and travel logistics will delay many arrivals for months.

Nowhere to go

…Some may be required to reapply for medical approvals or security clearances that are good for a limited time — and depending on the country, refugees also may have to reapply for exit visas, including Burmese leaving Thai refugee camps…

The shutdown came just as the government was set to begin admitting 70,000 refugees for the coming federal fiscal year, said Cindy Jensen, director of resettlement with the International Rescue Committee. The moratorium was first extended to Oct. 21, and then again to Oct. 28.

A State Department official said the move was meant to ensure refugees receive proper support when they arrive but acknowledged it had left thousands of people “sitting in limbo.”

The government is allowing those who are seen as being at high risk to continue to arrive, such as Iraqi refugees who helped the United States during the war.

Church World Service, one of a handful of federally approved resettlement agencies, reported that nearly half of the refugees under its authority, initially cleared for travel in October, will be delayed as long as three months…

…Kentucky Refugee Ministries, which operates on a tight budget, is having to use reserves to continue to pay caseworkers and provide services, partly because the shutdown has kept the agency from getting the federal reimbursement of $750 per arrival budgeted for October… Read more here

Posted in Catholic Charities of Louisville Inc., Congress, CWS, funding, IRC, Louisville, moratorium / restriction / reduction | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

US to start resettling 2000 Syrian refugees

Posted by Melissa Sogard on August 13, 2013

syria

The US will soon begin resettling 2000 Syrian refugees. Up to now Syria’s neighbors Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan have shouldered the enormous refugee burden on their own, collectively taking in about 2 million Syrian refugees. Before the crises in Syria, Jordan was already feeling the tremendous burden of caring for hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees. The nation’s water supply has reached the breaking point. UN Referrals of Syrian refugees to the US will come within the next four months. Those eligible for resettlement are the most vulnerable civilians, mostly usually women and children (adult males having been killed), and people who are sick. The women will most likely be heavily traumatized by war and may struggle to achieve the economic self-sufficiency goal of the US resettlement program. An article at Mint Press News has the details:

The Obama administration has announced that it will take in 2,000 Syrian refugees, the first group to be resettled in the U.S. 2 ½ years after the start of the Syrian war. The conflict has resulted in the deaths of more than 100,000 and has created 1.6 million refugees according to the latest statistics from the United Nations (U.N.). With no end in sight, there will be an increasing demand for neighboring countries, as well as the U.S., to share the burdens when it comes to absorption and resettlement.

Foreign Policy’s The Cable reports that the announcement marks a break in policy for the U.S., which typically maintains a strict process for the application and absorption of refugees and asylum seekers.

Unlike previous efforts by the Department of Homeland Security to give temporary protected status to Syrians already in the United States, the State Department effort will bring in Syrians from overseas for permanent resettlement in America,” The Cable reports.

Referrals will come within the next four months…

The number may be small, but those working in refugee resettlement projects emphasize that those eligible for resettlement are among the most vulnerable civilians caught in the crossfire of war. “The criteria will be the most vulnerable refugees, most usually women and children, people who are sick and will not make it if we [U.S.] don’t help them get out,” said Lavinia Limon, President and CEO of U.S. Committee for Refugees, to Mint Press News…

Thus far it has been Syria’s neighbors who have stepped forward in the absence of further international support, namely Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, collectively taking in about 2 million. “Other countries have stepped forward in this responsibility-sharing exercise. Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan have opened their doors to over 2 million,” [Erol Kekic, director of the Immigration and Refugee Program for global humanitarian agency Church World Service] said.

Despite collectively representing 1/10 the land area and a fraction of U.S. resources, these countries have been forced to share the burden, partly due to their close proximity to the conflict… Read more here

Posted in children, CWS, Dept of Homeland Security, Obama administration, Syrian, women | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Community Refugee and Immigration Services Center in Ohio burglarized

Posted by Christopher Coen on June 18, 2013

burlarized

Thieves broke in and burglarized the offices of Community Refugee and Immigration Services Center in Columbus last week, according to an article and video at 10TV: This is the resettlement agency that placed refugees in a horrible apartment complex for years before being caught my the media.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Workers discovered a shattered door and missing computers at the Community Refugee and Immigration Services Center on Sinclair Road.

According to the police report, workers said that the break-in happened Sunday night and caused hundreds of dollars in damage.

It was unknown if security cameras captured the crime. Read article at source here

Posted in Columbus, Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS), Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS) | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Refugees in great need of trauma-sensitive, culturally and linguistically appropriate mental health

Posted by Christopher Coen on June 6, 2013

culturally-linguistically

Iraqi refugees in Sacramento, California battling the symptoms of post-traumatic stress have found accessing mental health care services difficult. Under Medi-Cal (California’s Medicaid program) people have to wait up to six months to see a doctor. When they finally get an appointment the question is whether the services are culturally and linguistically appropriate. An article in the Sacramento Bee has more:

Sacramento is now home to 2,700 Iraqi refugees, many of whom have brought the war with them.

Nearly all are battling the symptoms of post-traumatic stress, including insomnia (59 percent), depression (44 percent), headaches (41 percent) and fear (38 percent), according to a report released by the UC Davis Health System Clinical and Translational Science Center…

Because of their reluctance to discuss mental problems with counselors and their inability to navigate the U.S. health care system, most Iraqi refugees don’t get the help they need, said research program manager Linda Ziegahn…

Most are getting really frustrated with the American health care system.”…

The report, based on interviews with 34 local Iraqi refugees, was conducted with the help of Opening Doors, a refugee resettlement agency, and the Mesopotamia Organization, an Iraqi self-help agency started by Sarmed Ibrahim, an engineer from Iraq.

“I want to thank the U.S. for making us feel safe, and where our kids can get the best education in the world,” Ibrahim said. “But after at least 10 years of suffering, most of us need mental care. It takes 3-4 months to get an appointment with a psychiatrist covered by Medi-Cal.”

The lack of help with medical issues is affecting their ability to get jobs, Ibrahim said.

But there aren’t enough Medi-Cal doctors to go around, said Marissa Ramos, chief of the California Refugee Health Program.

Even in Sacramento County, to get in to see the doctor will take up to six months. If they can finally talk to a psychiatrist, many are afraid to.

“I do not like speaking about personal problems in public,” one refugee said. “Whoever sees a psychiatrist is considered ‘crazy’; that is why we are lagging behind … .”…

…Delphine Brody of the California Network of Mental Health Clients said that Sacramento County doesn’t have a program for victims of war and torture…

“These refugees are in great need of trauma-sensitive, culturally and linguistically appropriate mental health,” Brody said… Read more here

The comments section has a message from a local group called VIRTIS that psychological care available in many languages, although not in Arabic.

 

Posted in Iraqi, language, mental health, Opening Doors, PTSD, Sacramento | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A closer look at refugee resettlement in Georgia

Posted by Christopher Coen on April 29, 2013

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

In the last eight months four refugees injured at work in Knoxville

Posted by Christopher Coen on April 26, 2013

injury3

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: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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