Greece Records First Coronavirus Cases Among Refugees, Imposes Quarantine On Camp
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, medical personnel, human rights groups and others have warned of catastrophe if COVID-19 spreads to the roughly 60,000 refugees living in often-squalid camps in Greece.
Now the virus has arrived. This week, at least 20 refugees living in the Ritsona camp, near Athens, have tested positive for COVID-19. The camp is now on lockdown for the next two weeks.
In 2016 protesting refugees said they didn’t need food they just wanted to be allowed to migrate into Europe.
“No one can go in or out” except for essential personnel like healthcare workers, Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis told Greece’s SKAI radio on Thursday.
Authorities were first alerted earlier this week, when a 19-year-old resident of the camp tested positive for COVID-19 after giving birth at an Athens hospital.
Healthcare workers immediately began testing more than 60 Ritsona camp residents who had come into contact with the woman. The 20 who tested positive for COVID-19 currently do not have symptoms, Greece’s migration ministry says.
Testing of the 2,700 refugees living in Ritsona will continue during the 14-day quarantine. [Check it out! They will all be tested.—ed]
Mitarakis, the Greek migration minister, told members of the European Parliament’s home affairs committee that there is no room on the Greek mainland for the refugees.
“We will strongly welcome any offers of relocation from member states that have capacity,” he told the lawmakers Thursday, “because we cannot resolve this crisis instantly and alone.”
The European Union is deeply divided on the issue of refugee relocation. On Wednesday, the European Court of Justice said three anti-migrant EU countries — Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic — broke EU law by refusing to accept refugees under a EU-mandated relocation program.
The first thing I thought of when I read this postby an Italian man who describes how Italy is gone was whatever happened to that proposed Chinese meatpacking plant in Montana?
As described by author Giacomino Nicolazzo the COVID disaster for Italy has its roots in the deals between the Leftists running the Italian government and the Chinese who were furiously buying up one industry after another primarily in the Italian north.
A recipe for disaster?
Along with those purchases of major industries they were sending in Chinese workers, many from Wuhan, to help run their new acquisitions. It is long, but well worth reading because it makes sense.
Take the time to read what I said about the deal in 2017.
“It’s a really smart place for China to put in investment and to partner with Montana to have a really good packing industry and processing plant here.”
(Fred Wacker, rancher)
Here is one thing I said in that post:
I suppose there is one bright side–unlike Chobani Yogurtin nearby Idaho, I doubt the Chinese owners will approve of Muslim workers in light of their clear historical animosity to the ‘religion of peace.’ I can just see the mess when the Chinese company gets hit with some discrimination lawsuits when they say “NO” to Somali workers.
Heck, maybe they will insist on bringing in Chinese workers!
(Prescient wouldn’t you agree!)
So then what happened to the scheme?
I looked around today and the best answer I could find was that the deal began to fizzle when Trump’s trade war with China began.
Nevertheless in the summer of 2018, Montana cattlemen were still dreaming that they would see a giant Chinese meat plant in ‘Big Sky’ country.
Montana hopes for beef deal with China’s JD.com despite Trump’s trade
HELENA, Montana – Montana officials are hoping that a blockbuster deal with Chinese retail giant JD.com to export local beef will be possible despite the US Government’s escalating trade war with China.
“We are still talking,” Jay Bodner, executive vice-president of the Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSA), said.
In an exclusive interview with Xinhua on Tuesday, Bodner said the win-win deal inked last November in Beijing is not dead in the water, despite a 25-percent tariff on $34 billion of imports from China imposed by the Trump administration last Friday.
Beijing’s expected response – an additional 25-percent import tax on top of an existing 12-percent hike – was hard for Montana to digest, especially in light of the pending JD.com deal.
“There is a pretty high level of concern,” Bodner, a rancher from eastern Montana who has been with the MSA for 16 years, said.
Comparing JD.com to America’s Amazon.com, he said the Chinese internet giant’s commitment to spend up to $100 million to build Montana’s largest meat processing facility was still on the table.
There are some stories floating around that CEOs of some of America’s largest corporations are taking pay cuts to help keep more of their lower level workers on the job as the COVID-19 crisis continues. Here is one from Forbes published two days ago.
At the same time we are learning that the refugee agencies continue to be shuttered (staff reduced) and refugees are struggling. See refugees struggling inBowling Green, KY and in Durham, NC.
So this morning I am wondering if ‘moneybags’ Miliband and other CEO’s of leading ‘charitable’ refugee agencies were giving up large salaries to help especially the refugees they have been dropping off across America for decades. And, to save some of their low level employees from getting the budget ax.
I know it’s a little hard to believe that there are other things going on in America besides the virus crisis, but here is important news I should have mentioned sooner.
The Thomas More Law Center has filed a petition to attempt to get the Supreme Court to review the Tenth Amendment case that has been working its way through the legal system.
The heart of the case is the Tenth Amendment argument that the federal government has no Constitutional power to shift the cost of refugee resettlement onto state governments as it has been doing for decades.
TMLC is looking for other like-minded organizations to file amicus briefs in support of their argument which has far-reaching implications beyond just the refugee program!
Thomas More Law Center Petitions U.S. Supreme Court to Review Tennessee’s Challenge to Federal Refugee Resettlement Program
ANN ARBOR, MI – In what could have far reaching implications for all states seeking to withdraw from the federal refugee resettlement program, the Thomas More Law Center (“TMLC”) collaborating with attorney John Bursch, filed a certiorari petition Monday, March 16 in the U.S. Supreme Court.
The petition asks the Court to hold that the Tennessee General Assembly has standing to challenge the constitutionality of the federal government’s forced state funding of the federal refugee resettlement program.
The Thomas More Law Center (“TMLC”) is a national nonprofit public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Both TMLC and Mr. Bursch are representing Tennessee without charge.
John Bursch, a former Michigan state solicitor general, nationally prominent appellate lawyer and past chair of the American Bar Association’s Council of Appellate Lawyers, authored the petition for certiorari.
The petition argues that the issues presented in the Tennessee case cut to the core of the Constitution’s protection of states against overreach by the federal government. The Constitution does not give Congress the authority to appropriate state funds, contrary to the wishes of the state, to fund a federal program.
According to the petition: “If a state legislature cannot vindicate its rights in court when the federal government picks the state’s pocket and threatens the state if it dare stop providing funds, then federalism is a dead letter.”
The petition seeks to overturn a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision which ruled that the General Assembly does not have institutional standing to challenge the constitutionality of the resettlement program. The cert petition does not challenge the federal government’s right to resettle refugees in Tennessee. What it objects to is forcing Tennessee taxpayers to pay the costs of the resettlement.
Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of TMLC, noted: “From the beginning, opposition to the federal refugee resettlement program has been about protecting Tennessee’s state sovereignty from impermissible federal interference. The federal government cannot simply commandeer state tax dollars to fund a purely federal program to extend benefits to noncitizens.”
Tennessee initially agreed to participate in the federal resettlement program because the federal government promised to reimburse 100 percent of the cost. In fact, Congress crafted the 1980 Refugee Act specifically intending that states not be taxed for programs they did not initiate and for which they were not responsible. As is often the case, however, the federal government began shrinking its financial support to the states and by 1991 eliminated it entirely. Due to the mounting costs the federal government was not covering as promised, Tennessee withdrew from the program effective June 30, 2008. But that didn’t stop the federal financial burden on Tennessee taxpayers. The federal government simply designated Catholic Charities of Tennessee, a non-governmental private organization, to continue the program with state dollars.
Between 2007 and the end of 2019, resettlement agencies pumped more than 15,000 refugees into Tennessee cities and towns. They came from Afghanistan, Bosnia, Burma, Central African Republic, Congo, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan 3 and many other countries. They often arrive from United Nations camps in poor health, with no job skills or English-language abilities.
The resulting cost to state taxpayers amounted to tens of millions of dollars. In 2015 alone, the refugee-related Medicaid costs paid by Tennessee tax dollars topped $30 million.
Instead of resolving the merits of Tennessee’s claim, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals sidestepped the pivotal constitutional issue concerning federalism by ruling that the Tennessee General Assembly lacked standing to bring its lawsuit.
The petition filed on March 16, 2020, argues that this was in error:
“The General Assembly is an institutional plaintiff asserting an institutional injury; the federal government has co-opted the General Assembly’s appropriation power and impaired its obligation to enact a balanced state budget. That is because the federal government can siphon state funds—to help pay for a federal program from which Tennessee has withdrawn.”
TMLC originally filed the federal lawsuit in March 2017 on behalf of the State of Tennessee, the Tennessee General Assembly, and state legislators Terri Lynn Weaver and John Stevens challenging the commandeering of millions in state taxpayer dollars for a purely federal program.
A U.S. district court judge dismissed the case on the federal government’s motion. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the lower court’s dismissal on the sole grounds that the General Assembly lacked standing. It never reached the merits of the case.
The Supreme Court now has a chance to shed light on the proper role of the states relative to the federal government—which is the bedrock constitutional principle of federalism.
The petition states: “The (Tennessee) General Assembly does not object to the federal resettlement program. It does not even object to the federal government resettling 4 refugees in Tennessee. The General Assembly does object to the federal government reaching its hand into Tennessee’s pocket to pay for the cost of such a program, particularly when the enabling legislation was enacted with the promise to reimburse states for all expenses incurred in this program.”
The federal government mandates that states provide Medicaid to otherwise eligible refugees, or face termination of federal benefits.
Accordingly, the federal government forces Tennessee to continue funding the refugee program by threatening to pull $7 billion in federal Medicaid funding, which represents 20 percent of the state’s total budget.
The argument in favor of the General Assembly’s standing is bolstered by the fact that both chambers of the Tennessee General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in 2016 in favor of filing a civil lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the federal refugee resettlement program. The State Senate passed Senate Joint Resolution 467, by a vote of 27-5 while the House voted 69-25 to pass the same resolution.
And without any waiting period they can automatically apply for all welfare programs provided by the State of Tennessee.
This story is no surprise and I expect there will be many more like it in the coming days and weeks.
Refugees work at menial labor—cleaning hotel and dorm rooms, working in restaurant kitchens, etc. all no longer essential services—and they are increasingly unemployed (however $$$ is on the way from the feds).
I guess we can say it sure is a good thing that the Trump administration cut the flow of refugees to America starting last October or we would have even more unhappy, struggling people as those described here.
Refugees in Orange County struggle to make ends meet amid COVID-19 economic hardships
Coronavirus has forced many families to alter their ways of life. Although COVID-19 has impacted almost every Orange County resident, a group that has been especially devastated is the local refugee community.
Refugees can already be a vulnerable population without something like the coronavirus, said Flicka Bateman, director of the Refugee Support Center, a volunteer-based organization that helps transition refugees in Orange County to their new lives.
“I know people who’ve been here less than three weeks, I can’t imagine what in the world for them it must be like,” she said. “They’re totally uprooted, they’ve left situations that were full of violence and uncertainty, and then they come here and instead of being able to learn English and get all these services, suddenly they’re told to stay where they are and people will do the best they can remotely. It’s just very tough.”
Orange County has about 1,200 refugees, primarily from Burma, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Syria. [It would be many more if Trump had not cut the flow this year—ed]. Bateman said a lot of refugees in the area have lost their jobs or seen reduced hours, especially those who work in restaurants or hotels, or in food service and housekeeping at UNC, where dorms have been closed and dining services have been severely reduced.
Adam Clark, office director of World Relief Durham, a refugee resettlement agency based in Durham that serves refugees across the Triangle area, said programs that help refugees with employment have seen a spike in applications due to a greater amount of people needing sudden job assistance.
He said they’ve seen about 20-30 unemployment applications among refugees just in the last week, and a long list of people are already waiting.
“There are a lot of refugees worried about their rent, obviously the same things that are affecting everyone,” he said. “But I think it just affects them even more because of the sectors they work in.”
Hannah Olmstead, a junior at UNC who is a part-time caseworker at World Relief Durham, said as local school districts transition to online instruction, many refugee parents don’t have the English ability or understanding of American education to homeschool their children.