Friends of Refugees

A U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program Watchdog Group

Posts Tagged ‘resettlement’

San Diego police kill Myanmar refugee with mental illness

Posted by Christopher Coen on July 19, 2014

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San Diego police have shot and killed a mentally ill refugee from Myanmar.  The young man’s family called police after he threatened them with knives and a stick and police then escalated the volatile situation by breaking down the door and sending in a police dog.  After the young man injured the dog with a machete swing to its back he allegedly swung the weapon at police prompting two officers to open fire. This case is part of a growing problem of people with severe mental disorders who are coming in contact with the criminal justice system, with sometimes deadly consequences, without adequate mental health services.  As a result of other tragic killings by police, many police departments are using a crisis intervention team model, in which specially trained officers are dispatched to a scene when a person with mental illness is involved. An article at Fox 5 San Diego covers the killing of the refugee from Myanmar:

SAN DIEGO – Friends of a young man with mental illness, who was killed by police after he threatened his family and police with knives and a stick at his City Heights apartment over the weekend, wondered if police could have handled it differently.

Patrol personnel went to the residence in the 3800 block of Menlo Avenue at 10:20 p.m. Sunday on reports that a man was threatening the lives of his family, according to San Diego police.

Officers arrived to find the man holding a knife and a stick and behaving in an “agitated” manner, Lt. Mike Hastings said. As the officers tried to persuade him to disarm himself, he allegedly began threatening them and retrieved a machete.
Officers tried in vain to subdue the suspect with stun guns and police dogs, Hastings said. When one of the canines approached, the man struck the animal on the back with the machete, according to police.

The suspect then allegedly swung the weapon at an officer, prompting two others to open fire. He suffered multiple gunshot wounds and died at the scene.
The man was identified by friends on a social media website as 21-year-old Burmese refugee from Myanmar named Ja Ma Lo Day…

He suffered from mental illness and had been involved in several prior encounters with the police, according to the online posting… Read more here

Posted in Burma/Myanmar, language, mental health, police, San Diego | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Another fatal fire – this time in Phoenix

Posted by Christopher Coen on July 12, 2014

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A late afternoon fire killed a 7-month-old Somali baby boy at the McDowell East Apartments in Phoenix two weeks ago.  The cause of the fire remains under investigation.  Firefighters believe that a smoke detector had no batteries.  The local fire marshal says it’s shockingly common for smoke detectors to have no batteries, which should be a message to resettlement agencies to check refugee clients’ smoke detectors periodically.  Another fire in June in New Bern, NC displaced many refugee families.  In that case the cause of the fire was children playing with a lighter.  An article in The Republic covers the Phoenix story:

As residents of a Phoenix community continue to grieve for a 7-month-old baby who died in an apartment fire, questions linger about whether the unit had a working smoke detector and if family members, who are Somali ­refugees, would have understood its importance.

Officials said 7-month-old Mohamed Ali likely died of smoke inhalation after his family’s home in the McDowell East Apartments, near 24th Street and McDowell Road, caught fire at about 3 p.m. Monday.

The baby’s mother and grandmother were able to get the other children living in the home out of harm’s way but were unable to get the baby out because of heavy smoke and a wall of flames that blocked their path. Neighbors, including an off-duty firefighter, also rushed in to help but were unable to reach Mohamed.

The fire displaced about 80 people living in the complex, which is largely occupied by refugee families. Most of them have since returned home to their apartments.

Investigators on Wednesday were still trying to determine the fire’s cause.

Sgt. Trent Crump, a police spokesman, said investigators believe the family’s apartment didn’t have a working detector — the battery was missing. Crump said that it’s not clear who ­removed the battery or when but that it is part of the ongoing inquiry…

Fatuma Dubow, a Somali refugee who lives in the complex, said most people from her homeland don’t have electricity, so checking a smoke detector or understanding how it works is knowledge that develops over time…

Another Somali refugee who lives nearby said she knew that smoke detectors were important but was under the impression that they alerted police and fire automatically during a fire…

Cathy Peterson, vice president of program operations for Catholic Charities Community Service, gave a…description for her group’s health and safety orientations.

“The heath and safety (primer) would include the smoke alarms,” she said… Read more here

Posted in apartment building fires, children, housing, Phoenix, Somali Bantu | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Apartment house fire in New Bern, N.C.

Posted by Christopher Coen on June 30, 2014

fire.

There been another apartment house fire, this time in New Bern, North Carolina.  Children playing with a lighter started the fire.  The fire displaced about 30 refugees from Myanmar — placed in the apartments by Interfaith Refugee Ministry.  The fire damaged 8 apartments occupied by the refugees, who lost everything. The story is found at WNCT CBS Channel 9.

NEW BERN, N.C. – Several fire departments battled a fire at Coopers Landing apartments on Simmons Street in New Bern Wednesday morning.

Colleen Roberts, public information officer with New Bern, says investigators site children playing with a lighter as the cause.

About 30 people have been displaced.

The fire affected units occupied by Burmese refugees who were placed there by the Interfaith Refugee Ministry, who helps refugees coming to the country get a fresh start…

The fire damaged 8 apartments…  Read more here

 

Posted in apartment building fires, Burma/Myanmar, children, housing, Interfaith Refugee Ministry, North Carolina | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Resettlement services for asylees

Posted by Christopher Coen on June 28, 2014

torch

A comment (see below) left under our link for the State Department’s Operational Guidance contract document for refugee resettlement agencies gives us a look at the IRC Phoenix office. They placed an asylee in an apartment with a non-working air conditioning in 100 degree heat and the case worker would do nothing to assist with the problem.

As it turns out asylees are not eligible for the State Department services that are associated with initial refugee resettlement program found in contract documents such as the Operational Guidance. Asylees are, however, eligible for programs funded by the ORR (Office of Refugee Resettlement). They may get up to five years of certain services including employment, immigration and case management services, and subsidized mental health services, and may also be eligible for other federal or state funded programs and services.

The writer indicates that the asylee is in the Matching Grant Program. Extra items such as cell phone service may be purchased with the $200 per month cash assitance. See Matching Grant info below:

Is the Matching Grant Program all its cracked up to be?

FY2014 Matching Grant Guidelines

pjslife said

June 23, 2014 at 2:02 am

Thanks for this information; it is not easy to find. I am friends with someone that was granted asylum 3-4 weeks ago and is receiving ‘resettlement’ services from a VOLAG. I haven’t been able to find out if he is entitled to the same services as refugees or if his are different because he came here as an asylum seeker. He was placed in a studio apartment with non-working air conditioning in 100 degree heat. After one week of me supporting him talking to his caseworker, I went with him to the leasing office and we were able to move him that day. He was given a twin bed with no sheets. No other furniture or lamps. He had some kitchen items but not much. I don’t think he’s received any clothing from them. He kept asking his caseworker about furniture for his apartment and was told he “might” get a table and chairs. We provided him with sheets, a nightstand, 2 lamps, a can opener, and 2 pieces of wall art. He was told he can’t receive cell phone assistance because he is in the “Match Grant” program. He has not been able to find out exactly what services he should be receiving, or what items they are required to give him. If it hadn’t been for me, he’d be sleeping on a bare mattress in a hot, dark apartment with only a kitchen or bathroom light providing light. To me it seems he has slipped through the cracks. Read more here

Posted in asylees, housing, housing, substandard, IRC, Matching Grant program, ORR, Phoenix, State Department | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Springfield, MA struggling

Posted by Christopher Coen on June 27, 2014

jobsearch

While the Mayor of Springfield continues to scapegoat refugees for perceived political gain a leader of a local refugee resettlement group is using the defense that the city is struggling with, “a weak economy, high unemployment, crime, proverty [sic], inadequate housing, and low high school graduation rates.” Of course that raises the question about whether the city is a proper destination for refugees in the US resettlement program.  An article in The Republican continues a series of articles covering the issue:

SPRINGFIELD – An organization that resettles refugees in Western Massachusetts said Monday the program should not serve as “a scapegoat” for city problems, as Mayor Domenic J. Sarno has renewed a request for a moratorium on new refugees in Springfield.

Jodie Justofin, a spokeswoman for Lutheran Social Services, said Monday that Sarno’s concerns about the resettlement of refugees in Springfield, including his claim that it poses a hardship on city services, was already addressed in a letter from the agency’s president Angela Bovill, in August.

“As you’ll note, Angela put this political issue in the context of the many challenges facing Springfield,” Justofin said. “In a city of 150,000 residents, the relatively small number of refugees (about 1 percent of the population) residing in Springfield should not be made a scapegoat for the city’s problems. Many of these refugees are contributing members of society, working, paying taxes and enriching the community.”…

At that time, Bovill said in part: “I trust you don’t mean to imply that in a city with a population of more than 150,000, Springfield’s longstanding struggle with a weak economy, high unemployment, crime, proverty [sic], inadequate housing, and low high school graduation rates are a direct result of the 250-300 refugees resettling to the City annually,”… Read more here

Posted in crime, employment/jobs for refugees, housing, Jewish Family Service of Western Masachusetts, moratorium / restriction / reduction, schools, Somali Bantu, Springfield | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

World Refugee Day – A look back at past year

Posted by Christopher Coen on June 20, 2014

community oversight

I thought that this World Refugee Day might be a good occasion to take a look back at some of the stories of the past year in refugee resettlement — to see what areas are in need of improvement.

Here are a few of the stories from the past twelve months:

Springfield, MA Mayor asks State Dept. to stop resettling refugees

Refugees in substandard housing in Springfield, MA

Rodent infestation so pervasive they were nibbling on a disabled child’s feeding tube

Refugee in Springfield, MA points to deficiencies in resettlement services

Both City of Springfield, MA and refugee agencies take little responsibility

Proof that Springfield resettlement agencies placed refugees in substandard housing

Refugees abused at Bridge Refugee Services in Knoxville

Refugee woman lost seven fingers in meat-packing accidents, not understanding safety training

Refugee resettlement agency intern reveals agency secrets

 

Posted in neglect | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Attacker of Albuquerque Iraqi Catholic refugee yelled anti-Muslim obscenities

Posted by Christopher Coen on June 17, 2014

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An Iraqi Catholic refugee alleges she was assaulted in her Albuquerque apartment and robbed of $20,000 in gold. Now the FBI is investigating the case as a possible federal hate crime. An article in the Daily Reporter covers the story:

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — An Iraqi Catholic refugee who was assaulted in her Albuquerque apartment appears to be the victim of a hate crime by an attacker who yelled obscenities about Muslims, police said.

According to Albuquerque police, a man last week forced his way into the home of Seham Jaber, shouting nasty remarks about Muslims and punching her in the head and stomach. The intruder then tore up her family’s citizenship papers in the June 5 attack, investigators said.

“The irony is the individual thought the family was Muslim, and they’re actually refugees from Iraq who are Catholic,” Albuquerque police spokesman Simon Drobik said.

Jaber, who speaks Arabic, told police the unknown assailant also stole at least $20,000 in gold, which represented her family’s life savings. The assailant also stole jewelry, she said.

“No house, no car. It was all in gold,” Saad Sajet, Jaber’s husband, told the Albuquerque Journal.

The suspect was described as wearing a mask, jeans and a yellow T-shirt.

No arrest has been made.

The FBI now is investigating the case as a possible federal hate crime, Albuquerque police said Friday… Read more here

Posted in anti-Islamic, Catholic, dangerous neighborhoods, FBI, hate crimes, Iraqi, New Mexico, police, women | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Child migrants claim abuse by U.S. Border Patrol agents

Posted by Christopher Coen on June 15, 2014

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Tens of thousands of children have crossed the border illegally since 2011 and now some of them are coming forward with stories of abuse at the hands of U.S. Border Patrol agents.  One boy claims an agent punched him in the stomach. We dealt with this agency back in 2010 when agents detained a Somali refugee in North Dakota for failing to keep an I-20 identification card on his person. The agency played games in trying to reject our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. In 2011 a whistle-blower at the agency reported that staff get paid overtime while not working.  An article at The Wire explains the recent abuse allegations:

Some of the tens of thousands of children who have crossed the border since 2011 claim that they’ve been physically and verbally abused by border patrol agents while in their custody. Documents obtained by BuzzFeed via the Freedom of Information Act didn’t specify whether the claims were ever substantiated or investigated by the Border Patrol, but government officials filed two dozen reports about such allegations.

These “Significant Incident Reports” were made by staff at shelters connected to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement between March of 2011 and 2013. The office receives the children within three days of their apprehension. One girl from Guatemala claims her leg was run over by border patrol vehicle while she was trying to escape, though officials didn’t believe her. Another boy said an agent punched him in the stomach.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has not commented on the abuse allegations, but on Monday afternoon the organization replaced its head of internal affairs, James F. Tomsheck, “amid concerns about use-of-force investigations of Border Patrol agents,” according to The Washington Post… Read more here

Posted in abuse, children, U.S. Customs & Border Protection | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Refugee resettlement agency intern reveals agency secrets

Posted by Christopher Coen on June 13, 2014

scam-beware

An intern at a mid-western refugee resettlement agency has shared some insight about how things are run at the agency she worked for. She reports working for weeks to “clean up” before a state department pre-announced inspection; how records were filled-in that were supposed to be contemporaneously recorded at the time of services. She also reports how her agency took advantage of refugee employees; failing to pay them for hours of work they provided to the organization:

I recently finished an internship at one of the main volags in a major midwestern city and, during that time, came to realize so many of the problems you highlight in this post and others. With respect to monitoring, I can say this: the agency where I worked had their monitoring earlier this year. I was asked to pull files weeks in advance in preparation for the visit, and only “good” files where the client(s) were relatively happy, well-adjusted, already employed, and preferably ones who had a volunteer or church partner that furnished their apartment with more than the bare necessities we provided. Several of those files had essential requirements missing: orientation paperwork, home visits, etc. And in those cases we were asked to write retroactive casenotes and complete paperwork retroactively to make the files “complete” to “look good” for the monitors.

It seemed counterintuitive: if we clearly have problems providing timely basic services to all of our clients, why not show them to the govt agency who comes to visit us, to demonstrate that we are in need of help? If we only show a positive image, they will only report a positive image, and none of the problems will be solved. And if we truly can’t provide appropriate services, then maybe we should be shut down or more closely monitored until we can.

I consistently saw clients being failed by the system during my time there. I also saw our international staff being short-changed: part-time interpreters and community workers (all former refugees) being paid for a part-time 20 hour workweek consistently reporting spending up to 60 hours a week translating and helping out their respective communities outside of their hours… Read more here (scroll down to comments section)

Posted in Office of Admissions, State Department | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Refugees preyed upon on Rochester NY streets

Posted by Christopher Coen on June 8, 2014

bullying.

Refugees in Rochester NY say they are fed up with being targeted for crime on the city’s streets. Ironically, many of these refugees do not report the crimes to police. Reportedly, the assaults, robberies and verbal abuse against local Nepali-Bhutanese and other refugees are being committed by young men from the African-American community. There is some debate whether these attacks are hate crimes or if the young men are targeting the victims due to their vulnerability as immigrants. An article in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle examines the issue:

Are the assaults, robberies and verbal abuse against local Bhutanese, Nepali and other refugees by young men from the African-American community hate crimes or crimes of economics and opportunity?

Perhaps a little of both.

Former Rochester police chief James Sheppard, who now works as a mentor to young African-American men whose lives have gone down paths of crime, downplayed tagging the crimes as “hate crimes” — defined generally as a criminal offense motivated by bias against race, religion, gender or other characteristics. He said the perpetrators are more often young black men who don’t feel good about themselves and who prey on the vulnerable for economic reasons…

Those who have been attacked say the abuse is often accompanied by comments such as “go back to your own country,” or “you don’t belong here.”…

Members of that community say they often do not call police because they either fear retaliation from the accused, they don’t think police will be effective at solving the problem, or they are simply more inclined just accept the abuse… Read more here

Posted in crime, dangerous neighborhoods, gangs, hate crimes, Nepali Bhutanese, police, Rochester, safety | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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