Friends of Refugees

A U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program Watchdog Group

Posts Tagged ‘IRC’

Texas anti-refugee lawsuit tossed out

Posted by Christopher Coen on June 16, 2016

gavel

A federal district court rejected Texas’s attempt to bar the federal government from resettling Syrian refugees in the state and dismissed the lawsuit. The judge earlier declined to halt the imminent arrival in Texas of a Syrian refugee family.  An article at The Atlantic has the details:

A federal district court rejected Texas’s attempt to bar the federal government from resettling Syrian refugees in the state and dismissed the lawsuit on Wednesday.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission failed to “state a plausible claim for relief” or prove it could challenge the government’s actions under existing law, federal district judge David Godbey ruled…

Godbey…ruled that Congress hadn’t provided Texas or other states with the necessary legal means to challenge federal actions under the Act. Texas acknowledged Congress had provided no explicit mechanism, but argued the law implicitly included one. But this argument failed to convince Godbey, who cited the statute’s history and structure to disprove it.

His order also dismissed the commission’s allegation that the IRC violated its contract with Texas by resettling refugees without proper communication. Texas argued the Refugee Act required the IRC to provide “close cooperation and advance consultation.” But that language is best read as advisory, Godbey wrote, contrasting its vague urgings with more explicit commands elsewhere in the Act… Read more here

and in the San Antonio Express-News:

Representing the nonprofit International Rescue Committee, which has contracted with the state to settle refugees, the American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of Texas said they hoped that the ruling discourages other states from taking similar actions to oppose people fleeing Syria for their safety.

“Gov. Abbott and Attorney General Paxton didn’t have a legal leg to stand on here, and they knew it. The goal of this wasteful lawsuit had nothing to do with public safety and everything to do with scoring political points on the backs of desperate refugees. We trust Judge Godbey’s ruling will dissuade other states contemplating similar discriminatory measures,” said Terri Burke, executive director of the ACLU of Texas… Read more here

Posted in ACLU, court, IRC, Syrian, Texas | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

International Rescue Committee investigated for corruption

Posted by Christopher Coen on May 11, 2016

Allegations include bid-rigging and bribery

corruption

The United States is investigating the International Rescue Committee (IRC), which is one of three international groups to have had millions of dollars in funding withdrawn over alleged bid-rigging and bribery. Allegations relate to the organizations systematically overpaying for goods in Turkey. A senior USAID official said private Turkish companies had sold cut-rate blankets and other basic materials at vastly inflated prices and pocketed the difference. An article in The Telegraph has the story:

The United States is investigating an international aid group headed by David Miliband over allegations of corruption in projects intended to help Syrian civilians and refugees.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is one of three international groups to have had millions of pounds in funding withdrawn over alleged bid-rigging and bribery…

USAID’s Office of the Inspector General confirmed on Friday that 14 entities and individuals had been suspended as part of a “complex investigation into cross-border aid programs”…

Allegations relate to the organisations systematically overpaying for goods in Turkey. A senior USAID official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said private Turkish companies had sold cut-rate blankets and other basic materials at vastly inflated prices and pocketed the difference…

“What became clear in the course of this investigation was this was a pretty sophisticated operation,” the USAID official said.

The IRC, which has an annual budget of [over $500 million], relies heavily on government funding from Britain and the United States…

Two IRC staff members were dismissed in January after it was found that they had accepted money from suppliers in return for awarding them contracts… Read more here

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

LDS women volunteer in mass to help refugees

Posted by Christopher Coen on April 11, 2016

Mormon church

After the Relief Society general president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints urged LDS women worldwide to serve refugees, phones starting ringing off the hook at Salt lake City resettlement agencies and other nonprofits that aid refugees.  Volunteers are welcome for a variety of needs, including financial support, collection drives, foster parents of unaccompanied refugee children, and in-kind contributions, which can range from home furnishings, to clothing and school supplies.  An article at the Deseret News explains:

SALT LAKE CITY — No sooner had the Relief Society general president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints urged LDS women worldwide to serve refugees, phones starting ringing off the hook at local nonprofit agencies that assist refugees.

“It was pretty much to the minute,” Catherine Barnhart, executive director of the English Skills Learning Center, said Friday…

The nonprofit agencies that help resettle some 1,200 refugees that come to Utah each year reported similar levels of interest.

“We’ve received a ton of inquiries into the work we do, for volunteers and how people can get involved… Read more here

 

Posted in Catholic Community Services of Utah, churches, IRC, Mormons, Utah | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

IRC to open office in Missoula, Montana

Posted by Christopher Coen on March 20, 2016

Missoula

The International Rescue Committee is opening an office in Missoula, Montana. The group first had an office in Montana from 1979 until 2008.  An article at the Montana Standard has the announcement:

MISSOULA — The International Rescue Committee announced Friday it will reopen an office in Missoula, where it has not had a presence since 2008.

In a statement released alongside the announcement, Missoula Mayor John Engen said the world is in the midst of the largest refugee crisis since World War II…

The IRC first opened an office in Missoula in 1979 to aid Hmong refugees from Laos. Bob Johnson of the IRC said the organization is looking forward to helping refugees integrate into the culture of Montana… Read more here

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

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 »