Archive for the ‘USCCB’ Category
U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops
Posted by Christopher Coen on February 23, 2014
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 are unable to handle to 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 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 be 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: Amarillo, Catholic Charities of the Texas Panhandle, immigration, meat packing, Refugee Services of Texas, refugees, resettlement, restriction, schools, State Department | 1 Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on February 16, 2014
In the fiscal year ending in September, resettlement agencies in Georgia proposed resettling 3520 refugees, yet only resettled 2,710 refugees. Even that number, however, was up 8 percent from the year before. The U.S. State Department confirmed it limited the number of refugees coming to Georgia based partly on the state government’s request for reductions. The Republican governor has asked for reductions in resettlement since 2012. At 2,710 refugees resettled last year, that ranks the state at eighth among states in refugees resettled, closely matching Georgia’s ninth-place ranking for total population. The state government complains about Georgia’s share of costs to support refugees – an estimated $6.7 million in state and local taxpayer costs in fiscal year 2011 for public schools, child care and other expenses. The resettlement agencies point out that the federal government directed over $10 million dollars to the state for resettlement in that fiscal year alone, and that private aid money was also attracted to the statewide resettlement efforts (though they don’t say how much in private funding. One problem is that the resettlement agencies are concentrating nearly all the refugees in the Atlanta area, particularly in DeKalb County and especially in Clarkston – not only stressing that area but resulting in de facto segregation.) An article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution covers the issue:
The federal government is placing new limits on the number of refugees being resettled in Georgia, following requests from Gov. Nathan Deal’s administration for sharp cuts, public records show.
State officials started asking for reductions in 2012, citing worries that refugees are straining taxpayer-funded resources, including public schools.
Alarmed by the state’s position, resettlement agencies are publicly highlighting the economic benefits refugees bring. The agencies say refugees create a net gain by working, creating businesses, paying taxes and attracting more federal and private aid money than what the state and local governments spend on services…
In the fiscal year ending in September, Georgia received 2,710 refugees from around the world. That is up 8 percent from the year before. But it is 810 fewer people than originally proposed by resettlement agencies.
The U.S. State Department confirmed it limited the number of refugees coming to Georgia, based partly on the state’s requests…
In July, Deal’s administration asked the federal government to keep the same limits in place for this fiscal year, according to records obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. And the federal government is sticking to roughly the same range.
Georgia’s Department of Human Services — which distributes federal funding to resettlement agencies — estimated it cost $6.7 million in state and local taxpayer funds to support refugees in fiscal year 2011. That figure includes Georgia’s share of costs for public schools, child care and other expenses. The state’s estimate does not reflect taxes paid by refugees and the businesses they have created. A state report also shows the federal government kicked in $10.2 million for refugees during the same time frame.
Over the past three fiscal years, 7,866 refugees have been resettled in Georgia. During that same time frame, 184,589 were resettled nationwide. Georgia ranked eighth among states in the past fiscal year, according to an AJC analysis of pubic records. That hews closely to Georgia’s ninth-place ranking for total population.
“Georgia has been a welcoming home for many refugees, but the program does pose some challenges for the state,” said Brian Robinson, a spokesman for the governor. “We’re willing to do our part, but we want to make sure we’re not taking more than our fair share.”…
J.D. McCrary, the executive director of the International Rescue Committee in Atlanta, called the state’s actions “unfortunate.” He and other advocates said Georgia — a state of more than 9 million people — could successfully resettle as many as 4,000 refugees each year… Read more here
Posted in capacity, Catholic Charities Atlanta, funding, Georgia, IRC, moratorium / restriction / reduction, Office of Admissions, schools | Tagged: Catholic Charities Atlanta, child care, funding, immigration, J.D. McCrary, Nathan Deal, reduction, refugees, resettlement, schools | 1 Comment »
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 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 »
Posted by Christopher Coen on September 21, 2013
Resettlement to the US of Syrian refugees (and here) will begin in mid 2014 (a few trickled in already over the years). Some Iraqi refugees displaced to Syria and later to neighboring countries will also be resettled once again, this time to the US. Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada will be resettling some of the Syrian and Iraqi refugees. A news video report at My News 3 has the story:
LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3.com) – As more evidence of the use of chemical weapons are found in Syria, Las Vegas charities and residents are getting ready to help where it can.
Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada says it is readying for Syrian refugees.
Some refugees are already trickling in, trying to make a new start while their hearts remain in Syria. One family had escaped Iraq 10 years ago to reset their lives in Syria. Now they are forced to move again. Watch video here
Posted in Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada, Las Vegas, Syrian | Tagged: Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada, chemical weapons, displaced, immigration, Iraqi, Las Vegas, refugees, resettlement, syrian | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on August 31, 2013
Glass half full/half empty
Tennessee Republican lawmakers are again raising concerns about the cost of letting refugees resettle to the state. They are questioning costs to the state for refugee participation in TennCare, languages services in public schools and public housing are asking for a comprehensive fiscal study of the state’s participation in the federal Refugee Resettlement Program. Refugee advocates point out the positive economic impacts (refugees take jobs many Americans do not want and their employment and buy of homes, cars, etc. expands the tax base) and question the motives of singling out refugees. A recent article in The Tennessean covers the issue:
Republican lawmakers are raising concerns about the cost of letting foreign-born refugees resettle here, an exercise that has immigrant advocates questioning their motives.
The Tennessee General Assembly’s newly created Joint Government Operations Legislative Advisory Committee agreed on Wednesday to begin a comprehensive fiscal study of the state’s participation in the federal Refugee Resettlement Program.
The program, in which Tennessee and 48 other states are partners, provides refugees new to the United States a range of placement, health and employment services. Its budget for Tennessee, $8.9 million last year, comes solely from the federal government.
But Tennessee Republicans are pointing to other, indirect state taxpayer costs associated with the arrival of refugees: their participation in TennCare, languages services in public schools and public housing…
Tennessee’s refugee population has risen in recent years, with [approximately] 1,500 arriving last year, mostly moving to the state’s largest cities, especially Nashville, according to Catholic Charities.
“There is a substantial cost to this state for this program,” said Don Barnett, a fellow for the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for less immigration to the United States. “TennCare is one cost but not the only.”
Immigrant advocates, who stressed that refugees also offer positive economic impacts to their communities, questioned the motives of singling out refugees.
“Why are we asking this very narrow question?” said Stephen Fotopulos, executive director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, noting that refugees made up less than 1 percent of the state’s new residents each year… Read more here
Posted in capacity, Catholic Charities of Tennessee, education, funding, health, moratorium / restriction / reduction, right-wing, Tennessee | Tagged: Don Barnett, Joint Government Operations Legislative Advisory Committee, legislature, positive economic impacts, refugees, Republican, resettlement, Stephen Fotopulos, taxes, Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition | Leave a Comment »