Friends of Refugees

A U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program Watchdog Group

What does a 45% cut in government funding mean?

Posted by Christopher Coen on March 1, 2011

Molly Short, Executive Director of Journey’s End Refugee Services (a local affiliate of CWS and EMM), claims that proposed budget cuts would mean a 45 percent reduction of government funding, according to an article on WKBW – ABC’s Channel 7 in Buffalo.
Proposed cuts in federal spending could mean that some local immigrants may never be reunited with loved ones who are still stuck overseas. Immigration is a sensitive subject here in this country…and now the controversy is beginning to hit closer to home. Molly Short, Executive Director of Journey’s End Refugee Services, says that proposed cuts to the federal budget, could mean a 45 percent cut to funding for resettlement groups like her’s.
“And this means not only that the assistance we give here on the ground in Buffalo will be cut by 45 percent…but it also means that world wide refugee assistance will be cut 45 percent,” Short explained. As much as 20 million dollars of federal money comes to our area to help immigrants get a new start. Approximately 1,600 refugees arrive in the area each year. “On average, 360 apartments are taken up by new refugee arrivals every year and with a declining population, those apartments would normally stay vacant.” Short added… Read more here
In question is the U.S. House of Representative’s FY 2011 Continuing Resolution (CR) which was just passed. Wow, 45 percent? That sounds like a lot. Is that true?
Well, according to Susan K. Krehbiel, Vice President for Protection and Programs, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), only the State Department’s “overseas” refugee funding would be cut, by 45 percent, and only 10 percent of ORR’s budget would be cut.

…1. Overseas Assistance to Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons

The CR would cut PRM funding by over $830 million, or 45% of its programming. Such a drastic cut in funding would have a significant impact on the ability of the U.S. government to provide assistance to areas of the world that are of strategic national security interest. It would also decrease the U.S. government’s capacity to meet its target admissions total of 80,000 refugees for FY 2011 and
limit our flexibility to respond to emerging refugee crises…
…2. Domestic assistance and integration services to refugees and immigrants
…The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) within the Department of Health and Human Services serves refugees, asylees, victims of trafficking and torture, unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children, and certain Cuban and Haitian migrants…The CR would rescind $77 million in unobligated FY 2010 ORR funding, nearly 10% of ORR’s budget…Read more here
So is it true, according to Molly Short, that “the assistance we
give here on the ground in Buffalo will be cut by 45 percent”
If we believe the LIRS’ representative, the proposal is just to cut the budget for helping refugees overseas. The domestic refugee resettlement program is a part of the $1.695 billion MRA account, most of which is used for refugees oversees, but with a 45% cut to the MRA couldn’t the domestic resettlement program part of the State Department’s MRA (Migration and Assistance Account) still be maintained? The domestic refugee resettlement program part of the MRA is a per capita expensive program, although only a tiny part of the account (less than 1% of refugees are resettled to countries such as the US). Would they really cut it by 45% too?
Also, the State Department funding is the only government funding that resettlement groups ever admit to when talking to members of the media. And the government’s ORR funding, used to pay for refugee cash assistance, Medicaid, and other services during refugees’ first eight months here, would be cut by 10 percent – not 45%.
By the way, I don’t think it should be cut by 10 percent, because new refugee arrivals to the U.S. are already living on the edge.

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