Whew, finally a few minutes to report on the snow-job in Hagerstown last night. O.K. I’ll say it, I’m naive. I thought the forum would be a good idea to get facts out in the public and thus allow our community to weigh all sides of the issue. To all of you who warned me that they wouldn’t give us straight answers, I apologize, you were right.
But, the meeting wasn’t a complete waste. Judy and I look forward to writing about it for weeks to come. We will try to keep each post short adding it to a new category called September Forum, so that eventually a newcomer to RRW could follow our whole analysis.
This afternoon I’m commenting on the first, actually funny (sort of funny), non-answer. Someone more knowledgable than I about refugee resettlement told me that if we asked about the repayment of the airfare loan (refugees fly here on the taxpayer’s dime and are expected to repay the loan) the response would be: “The repayment rate is better than for student loans.” Yup, you guessed it! That is exactly the response we got the first time the question was asked of the US State Dept. representative.
The second time the question was asked the amount of the backlogged unpaid loans was not known (we hear hundreds of millions) but it was confirmed that the volags can pocket 25% of the loans they can wring out of refugees, and afterall we are told that is the going rate for debt collecting. Call me crazy, but I get an image of a mobster-minister-type putting the squeeze on some poor soul making $8 an hour who doesn’t even understand English well enough to read his dunning notice.