As we end the year and begin a new one, we have to get down to work. Shelbyville, TN and the Times-Gazette have given us lots to write about in the last 10 days or so (see our whole series here), but we need to do some basic research. Will you help us?
First, who really decides which cities will be direct resettlement cities? In an article in the Houston Chronicle a few weeks ago this statement intrigued me.
In the U.S., the refugees are helped by local charitable organizations coordinated by Refugee Council USA, the Washington-based coalition that helps choose their final destinations.
I thought the US State Department was deciding which cities were to receive refugees, but if this is true, then non-profit groups are making that determination. Are members of the Refugee Council USA just sitting around a conference table in DC with a large map of the USA looking for fresh cities to bring refugees to? Frankly, I think this is how Hagerstown became a resettlement site a few years back.
It is our understanding that once a city has been ‘chosen’, the volag (voluntary agency) with the contract for resettlement can then place the refugees within a hundred miles of that site.
Is there any analysis of the sites chosen? Is there any determination made by anyone in government about the economic and social viability of the site? Any studies done? Apparently not. As I said before, if the residents don’t squack then the site is a good one (“welcoming”) and more refugees are brought in.
Here are some designated resettlement cities we have already identified:
Kansas: Bowling Green, Garden City, Wichita
Missouri: Kansas City, Jefferson, St. Louis
Tennessee: Bristol, Chattanoga, Memphis, Nashville
Help us find more! If you go to this site at the Office of Refugee Resettlement and choose your state, you will get the name and contact information for your state director. E-mail or call that person and ask for the cities that have been chosen as designated resettlement sites. Then please tell us so we can keep an updated list.
BTW, since people can move around in America and refugees are free to leave their resettlement city in only a few months, this information does not apply to secondary migrations such as recently occured in Emporia, KS or Shelbyville, TN. It’s the first destination site when entering the country that we are looking for in this project.
We have made a new category entitled “Resettlement cities” in which to put the information you report to us. Thanks in advance for your help.