Posted by Christopher Coen on September 19, 2014
An AP article indicates that the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) has decided to release the funds it withheld from resettlement agencies in June. The funds were withheld due to the competition for funds from the influx of non-refugee unaccompanied minors from Central America. The ORR claims that the number of minors turned out below projections, and spending on them was apparently manageable without using refugee funding – or so we’re led to believe. The new wave of minors expected in September and October apparently failed to arrive at projected levels. Florida’s The Daily Journal carries the AP article:
MIAMI — Groups that provide refugee services across the United States expressed relief Thursday after the federal government announced the release of $71.5 million it had reprogrammed in June to deal with the thousands of unaccompanied minors who crossed the border this year.
The Department of Health and Human Services told the states on Thursday that the money would be released because the flow of migrants had fallen.
Health and Human Services Spokesman Kenneth Wolfe said the funds were released on Sept. 15, adding there were no immediate plans to withhold funds in 2015. Originally HHS had said in June that more than $90 million would be withheld as the agency dealt with a crisis involving minors streaming over the border from Mexico. Unaccompanied children who migrate to the United States also fall under the auspices of the federal refugee office.
That number was slightly reduced later to $71.5 million, but groups across the country still scrambled to scale back programs such as English language classes, job counseling and tutoring… Read more here
Posted in ORR, unaccompanied minors | Tagged: border, central american, funds, immigration, Office of Refugee Resettlement, ORR, refugees, resettlement, unaccompanied minors | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on July 2, 2014
To deal with the unprecedented influx of migrant children crossing the border illegally from Central America the ORR (Office for Refugee Resettlement) is transferring nearly $94 million from the refugee resettlement fund to the Unaccompanied Alien Children program. The transfer will result in a reduction in services to refugees being resettled to the US, including services such as English language learning, career development and housing placement. An article in NPR in Louisville covers the issue:
An increase of undocumented children coming into America is expected to reduce the funding for services available to displaced people living in Kentucky and across the U.S.
Kentucky Office for Refugees officials expect to see a $2.28 million cut in federal funding to provide refugees in Kentucky with services such as English language learning, career development and housing placement.
The reduction in funding stems from an influx of children coming to the U.S. to escape violence and economic struggle in Central America, refugee services officials said. To better serve these children, the Office for Refugee Resettlement is transferring nearly $94 million to the Unaccompanied Alien Children program. The $2.28 million Kentucky officials expect to lose is a part of the $94 million transfer.
Because of the cuts, thousands of newly arrived refugees would receive a limited amount of…services… Read more here
Posted in children, funding, Kentucky, Louisville, ORR, teenagers, unaccompanied minors | Tagged: Central America, children, ELL, employment, English language learning, funds, immigration, Kentucky, Office of Refugee Resettlement, ORR, refugees, Unaccompanied Alien Children | 2 Comments »
Posted by Christopher Coen on February 9, 2014
The Wyoming state government is requesting that the federal government help it set up refugee resettlement in the state. Up to now it has been the only state without direct refugee resettlement. Republican Governor Matt Mead wrote a letter in September to the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) saying the state is interested in establishing a public/private center to help refugees. (No doubt the request is motivated less by this red state’s interest in helping refugees as it is in bringing in labor willing to accept low wages for the state’s businesses. ) A newspaper article claims that the state may also decide how many refugees it will accept each year, but that is not correct. State refugee coordinators may only give their recommendations to the U.S. State Department, which manages the first stage of resettlement. The State Department decides whether to accept in whole or in part resettlement agency plans (plans submitted by the local resettlement agencies’ national affiliates) for the upcoming fiscal year, including numbers of refugees that the agencies plan to resettle. An article in Gillette News Record announces the plans:
The governor wrote a letter in September to the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement saying Wyoming was interested in establishing a public/private center to help refugees.
The federal agency has responded that it was happy to hear of that wish and the work in progress.
Since then, state officials, University of Wyoming officials and the Lutheran Family Services-Rocky Mountain have been working to put a plan together to make it possible.
“There are some federal requirements and we are addressing those,” said Shawn Reese, the policy director in the governor’s office.
Among the decisions to be made is where that resettlement center will be located in Wyoming. University of Wyoming College of Law students will begin a study to determine the best site for that center with a conference call taking place next week to set a timeline for that work.
“They will be conducting community profiles to determine where it makes the most sense,” said Merit Thomas, who…is working on the project. …The state also can determine how many refugees it will accept each year.
“The center will happen within the next year,” Reese predicted. “We’re trying to get that hammered out.”… Read more here
Posted in Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountain, ORR, public/private partnership, Wyoming | Tagged: governor, immigration, Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountain, Matt Mead, Office of Refugee Resettlement, refugees, Republican, resettlement, University of Wyoming College of Law, Wyoming | 2 Comments »
Posted by Christopher Coen on February 7, 2014
The federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) having made a late arrival to Waterloo, Iowa to serve thousands of secondary migrant refugees (refugees who first resettled elsewhere and then relocated to Waterloo for jobs) is now pulling out. The ORR funded a branch office of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants to offer services to the refugees since late 2012. Now, the group is arranging for volunteer groups and people to supposedly take over in its place and offer refugee services. Finding between $100,000 and $140,000 each year to fund these efforts is the biggest hurdle. An article in The Republic carries the story originally reported by the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier:
WATERLOO, Iowa — A federal agency is ending services to Burmese refugees in Waterloo, leaving volunteers scrambling to figure out how they can continue to help the immigrants.
The local office of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, which opened in December 2012, will close on Feb. 28 when federal funding runs out, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported (http://bit.ly/1n1t9DG ). It has been helping Burmese refugees, especially those in their few first years in the country, learn English and understand what community services are available. That includes preparing for citizenship.
The office always intended to be a temporary presence in Waterloo, where about 1,200 Burmese refugees currently reside. To date, it has helped about 200 refugees…
[Ann Grove, lead case worker] said finding ways to fund these efforts among the groups may be the biggest hurdle. It will take about $100,000 a year to replicate most services provided by the federal office, she said… “…If we’re looking at increasing the amount of interpretation to our desired level, we’re probably talking closer to $140,000.”
…[the] plan [is] to focus on case work, community education, employment and language. Read more here
Posted in Burma/Myanmar, funding, meatpacking industry, ORR, poultry production, secondary migration, refugee, USCRI, Waterloo | Tagged: immigration, Office of Refugee Resettlement, ORR, refugees, resettlement, secondary migration, US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, USCRI, volunteers, Waterloo | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on January 27, 2014
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: budget, Congress, immigration, Kenan Institute, Office of Refugee Resettlement, ORR, refugees, resettlement, Suzanne Shanahan, unaccompanied minors | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on June 24, 2013
The federal budget impasse brought on by Republican obstructionism led to a 5 percent, across-the-board spending cut by federal agencies beginning in March. The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR – in the US Dept. of Health & Human Services) then had to decide how it would apportion the cut. Apparently one of the ORR’s refugee resettlement programs they thought should be the first to cut is the Matching Grant Program. That is the program in which highly employable refugees receive extra services to help get them into jobs right away while staying off of public assistance. The program brings in a lot of federal money to the private resettlement contractors in return for plain little effort by those groups. Without it the refugees can still access employment services via ORR’s employment services program grants to the resettlement contractors. An article at KPBS Radio explains:
Across-the-board federal budget cuts are being felt…by resettlement agencies and the refugees they help.
…refugee service providers are beginning to feel the pinch of sequestration. The 5 percent, across-the-board spending cuts went into effect in March, slicing into federal spending by the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement.
…that means organizations that smooth the transition for refugees have less money to help them find work.
[In San Diego] Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement Director Michael McKay said his organization has lost about $15,000 for a program that places refugees into jobs within four months of arrival. It matches federal dollars with local funds to cover caseworkers and programming that get refugees into the workforce, usually in San Diego’s hospitality industry.
McKay said the $15,000 would put about seven people through the program… Read more here
Posted in Catholic Charities of San Diego, funding, Matching Grant program, ORR, San Diego | Tagged: 5%, cuts, funding, Matching grant, Office of Refugee Resettlement, ORR, refugees, resettlement, San Diego, sequestration | 2 Comments »
Posted by Christopher Coen on November 6, 2012
Using a FOIA request I just found another government inspection report for the International Center in Bowling Green. Refugees have reported problems with this agency and this Matching Grant program inspection report uncovered additional violations.
According to this December 2011 ORR inspection report a refugee couple from Myanmar who had arrived in Bowling Green two months earlier said that they had not received any job referral services or referral to other training. Their orientation – or lack of orientation – left them with no information on how to open a bank account, how to use medical insurance and other orientation issues. Another family from Myanmar also reported receiving limited employment assistance from the International Center. The family reported that they were unable to read letters sent from the school – indicating the Center’s possible lack of help with translation.
Tyson Food Company has hired refugees for jobs that start at an hourly rate of $9.45/hr. Refugees spend 14 hours per day from a combination of shift time, long-distance transportation, and waiting for transportation after their shifts. Tyson reports that there is rarely follow-up from the International Center.
A stakeholders meeting revealed a “major communication gap” between the International Center and the local Owensboro health department and school district. The health department said that this resulted in newly arriving refugees only receiving a standard physical examination, not the full refugee health screening. Both the health department and the school district reported that the International Center had not given adequate warning of when refugees would be arriving in the community. Both of these institutions, as well as stakeholders in Bowling Green, expressed surprise that the resettlement program is an up to eight month program (refugee cash assistance and refugee Medicaid), with up to five years for other services (job-seeking help, immigration services, and case management), apparently having been told that the program was only a 90 day process (apparently the resettlement agencies only reveal what they also generally only reveal to the media — the initial resettlement phase only, covering the first 30-90 days).
Stakeholders in Bowling Green pointed out that the refugees were not fully utilizing mainstream programs such as Head Start and senior programs which offer transportation and meals for seniors. The local Chamber of Congress had to tell the International Center’s board to reach out to the refugee community.
At a meeting with refugees in Bowling Green the refugees reported poor quality interpretation services at the International Center. They mentioned that transportation in Bowling Green is almost impossible by bus. They said that the International Center strongly encouraged them to take jobs at Tyson and Perdue and that Perdue was not a good place to work – the pay is low and refugees have no recourse for poor treatment. The company gave terminations without cause and without due process.
The ORR monitoring team visit also revealed that the Kentucky Office for Refugees, under state refugee coordinator Becky Jordan, was not conducting adequate consultation in Owensboro or Bowling Green. Thus ORR had to recommend that the Kentucky Office for Refugees provide the International Center with technical assistance, covering coordination between local service providers working with refugees.
Another recommendation was to help refugees find work locally to avoid the four-hour commutes and be able to spend more time with family, as well as be able to care for sick children if both parents are commuting to jobs at Tyson or Perdue. It’s not clear that the International Center has done anything to respond to this recommendation since the City of Bowling Green is now making its own effort to help refugees with finding local jobs (see today’s article at Bowling Green Daily News).
By the way, in the curious arrangement of resettlement contractors and government oversight agencies in the US refugee resettlement program, Becky Jordan is not only the Executive Director of Catholic Charities Refugee Services in Louisville, a refugee resettlement private contractor, and Kentucky’s state refugee coordinator, she is also part of ORR’s site visit teams that inspect other refugee resettlement contractors. For example, Ms. Jordan was part of ORR site visit team that inspected Louisiana’s refugee resettlement program in February 2011. Therefore, sometimes Ms. Jordan is inspecting her colleagues at resettlement contractors in other states and some day maybe one of them will be inspecting her agency.
Posted in Bowling Green, Burma/Myanmar, community/cultural orientation, employment abuses, employment services, International Center in Bowling Green (Western Kentucky Refugee Mutual Assistance Association), language interpretation/translation, lack of, late health screenings, local officials, failure to notify, meatpacking industry, ORR, public/private partnership, transportation, Wilson-Fish Program | Tagged: Becky Jordan, Bowling Green, International Center, Kentucky, Office of Refugee Resettlement, ORR, Perdue, refugees, resettlement, Tyson | 4 Comments »
Posted by Christopher Coen on September 20, 2012
The Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, Anne C. Richard, has just released her remarks from the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s 2012 National Consultation. Aside from referring to the federal contractors in attendance as “friends”, a moniker that demonstrates a lack of oversight authority that the refugees and taxpayers would benefit from (one doesn’t really criticize friends after all), Richard ticked off State Department achievements of recent years. The doubling of the amount of money the State Department provides to help with the initial reception and placement of refugees was cited as the first achievement. This increase in funds, in part to the federal refugee contractors, was accompanied with not a single increase in the contractor’s responsibilities. Also mentioned is that the State Department will now guarantee refugee contractors a minimum amount of funding (this shows the power of the federal refugee contractors since the State Department refugee office has ignored our every request for additional assistance to refugees, such as requiring contractors to provide refugees with such additional minimum items as umbrellas, hangers, phones, dictionaries, and stamps & envelopes). Richard also mentions that the State Department has championed more consultation at the local level to make sure that they listen to local communities. Except, it was the State of Tennessee that championed this issue by passing a state law to require this. Richard’s remarks are found at the State Department website:
Thank you and good morning. It is an honor to be here and a pleasure to be among so many friends…
In traveling around the United States, I’ve heard from city and municipal leaders, employers, school officials and most importantly, from refugees themselves about their successes and concerns for the program…
I do want to quickly tick off some of the recent improvements made in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration to the resettlement program.
· In 2010, under my predecessor Eric Schwartz, and I think most of you know this by now, we doubled the amount of money we provide to help with the initial reception and placement of refugees.
· We’ve given partner agencies a guaranteed minimum amount of funding – what we call it floor funding – so that resettlement agencies can manage their workforce and provide quality reception and placement services to arriving refugees – even if a lower than expected number of refugees are admitted or if there are unavoidable delays in arrivals…
· At the local level, we’ve championed more consultation. We want to make sure that we listen to local communities that welcome refugees and provide the services needed for successful resettlement… Read more here
Posted in Ann Richard, Assistant Secretary of the PRM, funding, local officials, failure to notify, ORR, PRM, public/private partnership | Tagged: Anne C. Richard, baseline, federal contractors, minimum funding, National Consultation, Office of Refugee Resettlement, ORR, refugees, resettlement | 6 Comments »