Friends of Refugees

A U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program Watchdog Group

Posts Tagged ‘IRC’

Texas’ Effort to Block Syrian Refugees Proves Meritless

Posted by Christopher Coen on December 4, 2015

Texas

In an apparent act of admission that it is using the justice system to engage in political posturing, Texas today withdrew its request for a temporary restraining order to prevent the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the state. The state admitted that the US government had provided it with the information it sought – that is, nearly three weeks before filing the lawsuit.  In its court filings the IRC points out that it sent Texas officials a spreadsheet that it proposed resettling 200 to 250 Syrian refugee in Texas in fiscal year 2016 (a timeline showing events from November 16 is found at ABC News).

To save face the Texas Republican administration said it is still seeking an injunction against the federal government to require it to comply with its legal duty to consult with Texas in advance of resettling refugees. The US Justice Department said in its response that the Refugee Act of 1980 requires the government to regularly consult with states about the sponsorship process and distribution among states, but that there is no obligation to offer advance consultation about individual resettlement decisions. The Justice Department reiterated that the state has no legal authority to block the resettlement of government-approved refugees.

The response also called Texas’ fears over security unfounded and that Texas “has made no showing that these refugees pose any threat, much less an imminent one, to the safety or security of Texas residents or any other Americans. The federal government pointed out that refugee vetting is thorough and, on average, can take up to two years. Reuters has the details:

Texas on Friday withdrew its request for a temporary restraining order to prevent the imminent resettlement of 21 Syrian refugees into the state, saying the U.S. government had provided it with the information it sought on the group.

The move came just hours after the U.S. Justice Department filed papers in a federal court in Dallas, saying the state did not have the authority to act on national immigration policy and could not bar the refugees from resettling.

The relief agency that plans to resettle the Syrians in the coming days filed a separate motion at the U.S. District Court in Dallas, contending that Texas could not discriminate against refugees on the basis of nationality because that violates U.S. civil rights laws… Read more here

Posted in Dallas/Fort Worth, Dept. of Justice, IRC, Syrian, Texas, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Texas sues to halt Syrian refugee settlement in state

Posted by Christopher Coen on December 3, 2015

lawsuit

Texas officials have now gone to federal court in Dallas and sued the federal government and the IRC for keeping the state “uninformed” about “refugees that could…pose a security risk.” The officials argue there is a “massive expansion” of refugees being resettled from an area engulfed in fighting with ISIS (of the 4 million Syrian refugees externally displaced the US federal government has agreed to accept a modest 10,000 in fiscal year 2016 , compared to the 25,000 Canada will resettle by the end of February, and the 80,000 Germany has accepted). The IRC says it has worked well with the state for 40 years, and believes it can address some of the governor’s concerns as well as take care of the Syrian refugee families. An article in the Los Angeles Times has the story:

Texas officials have sued the federal government to stop half a dozen Syrian refugees headed to Dallas this week, the latest in a series of efforts by state leaders to curtail the resettlement of Syrian refugees here.

Texas officials filed a lawsuit in Dallas federal court late Wednesday seeking to delay the refugees’ arrival by at least a week, until a judge can hear the case.

The officials argue that the federal government and the agency resettling the refugees, the International Rescue Committee, have kept them “uninformed about refugees that could well pose a security risk to Texans”… Read more here

The IRC written response (found in the Texas Tribune) to the threat of a lawsuit reads in part:

The State of Texas has long been a safe haven for the world’s most vulnerable refugees. Refugees from Burma, Bhutan, Iraq, Eritrea, Afghanistan and, very recently, Syria, have all found sanctuary here, and the opportunity to live a productive and law-abiding life.

The International Rescue Committee hopes that Texas will continue to honor this long-standing tradition and its commitment to the US Constitution, and would welcome the opportunity to meet with Governor Abbott and other state officials to discuss the resettlement of Syrian refugees… Read more here

Posted in Dallas/Fort Worth, IRC, moratorium / restriction / reduction, Obama administration, right-wing, security/terrorism, Syrian, Texas | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

“Unable to Achieve Cooperation”

Posted by Christopher Coen on December 1, 2015

strong-arm
The Republic of Texas under Republican leadership is attempting to hinge its illegal usurpation of the federal government’s responsibility over immigration (plenary power) on the word “cooperation”. It seems Republican governor Greg Abbott had his state attorneys pore over resettlement contract documents, relevant state laws, and federal regulations and they found section 1522 of Title 8 of US regulations, requiring the IRC to work “in close cooperation” with the state. Using that phrase Abbott had his Health and Human Services Commission head write to the IRC office in Dallas to threaten that failure to cooperate with the state may result in termination of the IRC’s contract with the state, and “other legal action.” Apparently, Abbott thinks he can ignore the law — that for more than 75 years, the Supreme Court has ruled that the federal government has fundamental control over establishing our national immigration policy, and can ignore the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, prohibiting discriminate based on protected characteristics, such ethnicity, religion, and national origin. Not to mention state and federal civil rights laws prohibiting discrimination. An article at Reuters explains Texas’ attempt to illegally strong-arm the IRC:

[The International Rescue Committee] said on Monday it plans to resettle Syrian refugees in Texas despite a threat from the state to cut funding to the nonprofit organization if it tries to do so.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission warned the Dallas office of the [IRC] in a letter last week that it would be in violation of its contract with the state if it did not comply with Governor Greg Abbott’s order to stop accepting Syrian refugees…

“As part of our mission and mandate from the U.S. Federal government, we will continue to resettle refugees in Texas and other states,” a spokeswoman for the International Rescue Committee said in response to a Reuters email…

The head of the Texas health commission, Chris Traylor, wrote to the group last week: “We have been unable to achieve cooperation with your agency. Specifically, your agency insists on resettling certain refugees from Syria in the near future” …Read more here

Posted in Dallas/Fort Worth, IRC, right-wing, Syrian, Texas | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Hundreds of Boise refugees evicted from apartments

Posted by Christopher Coen on September 19, 2015

apartment complex symbol 1

***UPDATE*** Oct. 12, 2015– Chobani helps refugees relocate (7-KTVB)

Hundreds of refugees in Boise found eviction notices on their apartment doors. The owner of the apartment complex where they live has sold the complex, with the new owner planning to do a remodel and redesign, and then put it back on the market at higher rates. Eviction notices order the refugees to move out within 30 days. With Boise’s very low vacancy rate of about 1.4 percent and only about three weeks to go, the refugee resettlement agencies – IRC, World Relief, and Agency for New Americans – are scrambling to find new homes for the refugees. An article and video report is found at KTVB-7 in Boise:

BOISE — Hundreds of people in Boise will have to find new homes, and many of those people are refugees. An apartment complex is evicting them, before a remodel and redesign. But, some people are trying to help.
The Glenbrook Apartments…in Boise is home to more than 100 families, many of them refugees. One week ago, 112 apartments got eviction notices on their doors, telling the people who live there that they have 30 days to get out.

[Julianne Donnelly Tzul, the executive director of the International Rescue Committee in Boise] says the complex was recently sold, and the new owner is remodeling and redesigning the complex, putting it back on the market at higher rates. …many of these people were on month-to-month agreements, which means they now have one month to find another place to live. Tzul says she’d like the new owner to let people stay until they found new homes. We reached out to the new owner about that possibility, but didn’t hear back.

The I.R.C., along with World Relief, [and] the Agency for New Americans…only have about three weeks to relocate 400-some people. And, that’s a tall task.

“Boise, typically, has a very low vacancy rate. It stands at about 1.4 percent,” said Tzul. “There’s a whole lot of nervousness, dread, worry.”… Read more here

Posted in housing, IRC | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

IRC’s Bob Carey takes top post of his agency’s government regulator, ORR

Posted by Christopher Coen on April 17, 2015

revolving-doorOn April 9 the HHS/ORR (Office of Refugee Resettlement) sent out a notice announcing the latest revolution of the revolving door between the private sector (resettlement contractors) and government agencies, such as the ORR and the State Department’s Office of Admissions — a new director for the ORR, the International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) vice president of resettlement and migration policy Bob Carey. Resettlement contractors in the US resettlement program such as the IRC, request and receive millions in federal government contracts to resettle refugees. In his role as IRC’s vice president Mr. Carey continually advocated for increased public funding for domestic refugee resettlement – a program to which contractors such as the IRC are supposedly required (an unenforced requirement) to bring significant private funding. Wouldn’t that mean, therefore, that they should be focusing on that task instead of spending significant time, energy and resources continually asking for increased government funding?

But this is not surprising in our government refugee resettlement program. With the contractors in charge of the government refugee agencies’ leadership we have a situation of regulatory capture. The regulated have moved in and taken over their government agency regulators. This is good for the private sector, but a pernicious arrangement for everyone else — mainly the refugees and the public. With the regulators taken out, the mice are free to play.

One of the bad effects is that these private groups are now able under-perform, even violate government contracts at will (the weak contracts they helped write), and face no consequences. An example is found in a question I submitted for the ORR’s interview with former IRC head George Rupp (a question which the ORR not surprisingly decided not to use):

“A 2007 State Department PRM monitoring report for the IRC office in Baltimore indicates that the IRC and another resettlement contractor frequently placed refugees into an East Baltimore apartment complex that had evidence of questionable maintenance and security standards (housing that is safe, sanitary, and in good repair is supposedly a State Department refugee contract requirement). Monitors also noted that the IRC had failed to give a three-member Meskhetian Turk refugee family a crib and other supplies for their infant son. I note, again, that these items are listed as “minimum” required items in the State Department contracts. Why does the IRC fail to meet so-called “minimum requirements” of their obligations to refugees in the public/private partnership?”

I wrote to Mr. Carey in a letter dated June 6, 2005 to ask about the IRC’s problems in refugee resettlement. Mr. Carey did not respond.

Posted in funding, IRC, ORR | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

IRC head: Gulf countries must do more for Syrian refugees

Posted by Christopher Coen on February 22, 2015

Syrian_refugees

David Miliband the chief executive of the International Rescue Committee is calling on Arabian Gulf states to begin accepting Syrian refugees for resettlement. The UN has said 130,000 Syrians need to be resettled every year outside of the country. Miliband said there needs to be fair allocation among countries and that so far Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan that are bearing the brunt of refugees. I suspect he’s also referring to countries outside the region that have accepted Syrians for resettlement, although far short of the 120,000 per year. Countried accepting Syrian refugees include: Bulgaria 5000, Germany 18,000, Sweden 14,700 [U.S. News & World Report], and the US goal through fy2016 is 10,000. An article in the UAE’s The National explains:

DUBAI // A former British foreign minister has called on Arabian Gulf states to lead the world and take in Syrian refugees fleeing the country.

David Miliband, who is now chief executive of the International Rescue Committee, a charity committed to helping the most vulnerable, said the West had so far been poor at setting a good example on this front so there is a chance for Gulf countries to show their humanitarian prowess.

The world beyond Syria needs to take its fair share of people leaving the country,” he said in an interview with The National. “Western countries have not been good at this so far.

One of the things the Gulf could do is make a point here. The UN has said 130,000 Syrians need to be resettled every year outside of the country.

That needs a fair allocation. At the moment that isn’t happening and, symbolically, that is damaging.

It is very important that there remains an openness in the Gulf to help people who are trying to escape from their suffering. It can’t just be Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan that are bearing the brunt of refugees.”…

Mr Miliband was speaking ahead of a meeting in the UAE to encourage further financial support to help the relief effort for displaced Syrians…

The UN has said 250,000 people in besieged parts of Syria are completely cut off from aid, and six million are in need of humanitarian help…

The UAE has the chance to be a leader in the humanitarian field in this area,” he said…

The opportunity for the UAE, the state and the public, is to now make a difference. The needs are much greater than the traditional international system can meet.

Different parts of the Gulf have made their financial contributions but, overall, it has to rise, and also [increase] from the West.”

Mr Miliband said it is important that Gulf countries play a central role in the politics of Syria, as it is in their own interest… Read more here

Posted in IRC, Syrian | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Athens has panhandlers, can’t take humanitarian refugees, says Mayor

Posted by Christopher Coen on February 5, 2015

panhandling

According to Athens-Clarke County, Georgia Mayor Nancy Denson, the City has “panhandlers and people sleeping outside”, so sorry, they can’t help humanitarian program refugees. This emphasis on panhandlers shows the Mayor as client of the retail business community. Does people sleeping outside show a lack of adequate shelter space? If not, and people chose to sleep outside, then how does that burden the community so much that they can’t help refugees? Local clergy disagree and have now invited the IRC back to Athens to reconsider opening a local refugee resettlement office after earlier opposition from the Mayor and Governor. Refugees who have migrated to Athens on their own via “secondary migration” are already living in the community. An article in Athens Banner-Herald gives an update to the story:

Less than four months after the U.S. State Department rejected a plan from a nonprofit refugee resettlement group to set up a program in Athens, a small group of Athens area clergy have begun work aimed at convincing the federal agency to reconsider.

Those clergy and others met for 90 minutes Wednesday at Athens’ Covenant Presbyterian Church with J.D. McCrary, executive director of the International Rescue Committee in Atlanta. McCrary, who had spearheaded the IRC’s unsuccessful effort to have a resettlement program designed to serve 150 refugees — people fleeing persecution and atrocities, as opposed to people simply wanting to come into the United States — established in Athens, was invited back to the community by some of those ministers.

The local churches represented at Wednesday’s meeting, in addition to Covenant Presbyterian, were Oconee Street United Methodist, St. Gregory the Great Episcopal, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Athens, Christ Community Church, Commerce Presbyterian, Colbert United Methodist and Comer United Methodist.

McCrary told the group the IRC effort in Athens was rejected by the State Department as a result of what the department saw as significant local political opposition to the proposal…

McCrary told the slightly more than one dozen people gathered at Covenant Presbyterian that the agency has no current plans to submit another proposal for State Department review. If, however, some evidence of community support were to surface, the IRC might consider making another proposal next year, McCrary said, or it could come back to the community following the next election cycle if it appeared that political opposition might have softened.

In a Friday interview, [Athens-Clarke County Mayor Nancy Denson] said her position on the IRC proposal hadn’t changed.

My responsibility is to take care of the people who are already here,” she said.

It’s purely a capacity issue,” Denson added, noting that Athens is already dealing with “panhandlers and people sleeping outside… Read more here

Posted in Georgia, IRC, secondary migration, unwelcoming communities | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Refugees in Tucson face underemployment, prejudice and racism from the community

Posted by Christopher Coen on February 1, 2015

stock-vector-business-finance-office-workplace-people-man-working-icon-symbol-sign-78377362

A recent newspaper article explores the plight of refugees placed for resettlement in Tucson, Arizona. It seems that the International Rescue Committee (IRC) is placing refugee professionals such as mechanical engineers and doctors in entry-level jobs such as dish washing. While I don’t wish to be cynical I do wish to have some healthy skepticism here. Are there really no jobs in Tucson, even lower level ones, in which employers are looking for people with engineering or medical knowledge? It seems that the IRC has grown accustomed to using the least effort in placing refugees in jobs, without taking advantage of other options. The state of Idaho created a program to help these refugees, and help Idaho, rather than waste these professionals’ knowledge and experience. The article also discusses a case in which a refugee man was riding his bike home from work at 2 a.m. when a group of men in a pickup truck taunted him and ran him off the road. The entire side of his body was torn up. The IRC relocated him from his home for fear of persecution. An article in The Arizona Daily Wildcat explains:

…Caitlin Reinhard, senior employment specialist for the International Rescue Committee, in Tucson [spoke] about the issues refugees face in the community. Regardless of professional and educational background, the first job that many refugees obtain are minimum wage, entry-level jobs. Therefore, it is not uncommon for a mechanical engineer to be placed in Tucson and work as a dishwasher.

Reinhard emphasized the reluctance of employers to hire overqualified employees. For example, a refugee who was a doctor in their home country would have more trouble finding employment than a refugee with a grade-school level of education…

In conjunction with employment issues…Tucson refugees face prejudice and racism from the community in which they are working to become members. Reinhard spoke of a client who worked the night shift at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Golf Resort and Spa. On his way home from work, the man rode his bike to the intersection of Alvernon Way and Grant Road at 2 a.m. when a group of men in a pickup truck taunted him and ran him off the road. The entire side of his body was torn up.

We were more outraged than he was,” Reinhard said.

The  man was relocated from his home for fear of persecution. He did not harbor negative feelings toward Americans. However, because of our cultural biases, our community threatened his safety… Read more here

Posted in abuse, Arizona, employment/jobs for refugees, hate crimes, IRC, professionals, safety | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

State Department bows to pressure to rescind plan to resettle refugees in Athens

Posted by Christopher Coen on October 15, 2014

brakeThe U.S. State Department has decided to put on indefinite hold the plan this fiscal year to begin resettling refugees to Athens, Georgia after local and state government opposition. Both the mayor of Athens as well as the Governor and Georgia Human Services Commissioner have come out against the plan. Senior level officials from the State Department are planning a visit to Athens next month, apparently to try some diplomacy and to negotiate with local government officials. An article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution explores the case:

The U.S. State Department has shelved a plan to resettle 150 refugees in Athens following objections from Mayor Nancy Denson and Gov. Nathan Deal’s administration.

The International Rescue Committee said it got an email last week from the federal agency saying it would consider the proposal “after additional planning and community consultation.”…

“There is always hope in the future and the good news is that senior level officials from the State Department are planning a visit to Athens next month to view the area in person for future consideration,” he wrote.

“During the visit we will be clarifying with them what additional planning and consultations they are requiring, showing them firsthand why Athens has already become a preferred destination for refugees seeking a new life, and discussing a concrete plan to resubmit a proposal to establish an official resettlement site.”…

In a letter sent to the U.S. State Department in August, Georgia Human Services Commissioner Keith Horton said he did not want the refugee resettlement plan to “go forward at this time.”

“The degree of cooperation, communication and consultation is not where I would like for it to be,” Horton wrote. “It is my hope that the community of Athens/Clarke County and the IRC will continue to work together to resolve the issues and concerns that have been raised.”

Horton’s letter followed one Denson sent Deal’s administration two days before. In her letter, the Democratic mayor complained the IRC did not reach out to enough people in her community early enough about its plans. She also raised concerns that the refugees could strain public resources in Athens-Clarke County, which is home to about 120,000 residents. Denson said she wanted the IRC to delay its efforts and to “present a formal refugee integration plan” to local elected officials and others. Read more here

Posted in IRC, PRM, State Department, unwelcoming communities | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Athens GA mayor opposes IRC resettlement office

Posted by Christopher Coen on August 25, 2014

opposeThe mayor of Athens, Georgia sent a letter last week to the state officials who control refugee resettlement in Georgia requesting that a plan by the Atlanta office of the International Rescue Committee to bring refugees to Athens be put on hold.  Athens-Clarke County Mayor Nancy Denson claims she is worried that the presence of refugees might strain Athens’ already burdened social services and school system.  She goes on to claim that Athens can only offer minimum wage jobs to refugees and that allowing the refugees to resettle would be “importing poverty”.  I guess my question is do local businesses want to fill those low wage jobs or not?  What plans does the mayor have for helping to increase wages for families?  An article in Athens Banner-Herald has more:

Athens-Clarke County Mayor Nancy Denson sent a letter last week to the state officials who control refugee resettlement in Georgia requesting that a plan by the Atlanta office of the International Rescue Committee to bring refugees to Athens be put on hold.

Denson worried that the presence of refugees might strain Athens’ already burdened social services and school system. Athens can offer very little outside of low-wage employment to the refugees, Denson said.

The mayor and other local leaders also expressed concern in recent interviews about adding to the area’s poverty level.

Upwards of 150 refugees, including men, women and children, were expected to resettle in Athens in 2015… Read more here

Posted in capacity, Georgia, IRC, schools, unwelcoming communities | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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