Ft. Wayne folks are asking questions

It was just a matter of time before this “welcoming” city of Ft. Wayne, Indiana began saying “whoa” to more refugees.   I have to say I’m amazed it took them so long in light of the huge number of refugees they have been receiving and in light of the explosive reaction some other cities, like Emporia, KS, have had in recent months.  Here are some quotes from a column today in the News-Sentinel:

Predictably,the woman who called Wednesday afternoon didn’t want to identify herself. But she’ll speak for a growing number of Fort Wayne residents if the federal government doesn’t address the refugee crisis it has created here.


“This is nonsensical, and I’m not the only one who’s (angry),” she said, her blood clearly boiled by a story in Tuesday’s News-Sentinel about how local social-service groups fear being inundated by another 1,000 Burmese refugees in 2008 on top of the 700 who were resettled in Fort Wayne this year. “This isn’t why people donate to the United Way or Catholic Charities. How many can we absorb? Citizens should have a say, but we’re turning into a socialist place.”

If you are dismissing that as the ravings of some crazy woman, then see what their Congressman has to say:

……U.S. Rep. Mark Souder fears Fort Wayne’s capacity for charity is at risk of being overwhelmed by the fear of rapid change and the desire for self-preservation.


“Fort Wayne is one of America’s most welcoming communities. But there will be a backlash (against refugees) if Washington won’t help us. The tension over illegal immigration is spilling over, and it will get deeper.”

The column ends with this comment, one we have seen echoed around the country by people brave enough to not fear being labeled a racist, xenophobic, hate monger.

America must not turn its back on refugees, who are in this country legally and, as such, deserve appropriate services. But the people of Fort Wayne have legitimate claims, too – including the expectation their institutions will not be overwhelmed by a crisis they do not want, did not create and cannot control.

See our post here yesterday about the influx expected in 2008.    I noticed that the column I write about above has a forum for comments.   Some of you talkative folks from Emporia might want to say a word or two about your situation to the good people of Ft. Wayne, maybe prime the pump so to speak and get people debating.   It always helps to know you aren’t alone.

The Cubans are coming (again!)

According to Foreign Policy’s Top 10 stories of the year you missed, 77,000 Cuban asylum seekers quietly slipped into the US in 2006 and 2007.   Read about it here.

 Note to readers:   There is so much going on in the area of refugee resettlement and immigration generally these days, and we don’t always have time to put our two cents in on a story, so we are going to occasionally give you links to hot news items so you can keep up with the news.  

We are also adding a new category here called ‘Asylum seekers’ — a subject which we hope to cover in greater depths in coming weeks.

Look out Fort Wayne, IN, 1000 more refugees expected in ’08

We have written about problems the city of Ft. Wayne (Allen County) Indiana has had with the impact on the Health Department with increasing numbers of refugees with TB, now it looks like the impact will be felt throughout all community services.   According to the News-Sentinel yesterday, the President of the United Way has called for a closed to the public meeting to address the coming “surge.”   

In addition to the 800 anticipated direct resettlement Burmese the community has been warned the number could go over 1000 when the refugees who have been resettled elsewhere also come to Ft. Wayne (this is called secondary migration).   Attendees at the closed meeting will discuss issues that should concern taxpayers such as housing, health, schools, translation services and so on.   Meanwhile Debbie Schmidt, executive director of Catholic Charities is headed to Washington to find more federal money for the volags.

Schmidt is planning a return trip to Washington to talk with HHS [Health and Human Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement] officials to get more money for Indiana’s four refugee resettlement-sponsoring agencies [non-profit federal contractors such as Catholic Charities].

We’ve heard rumblings that a culture clash is coming in Ft. Wayne as Karin Christians are being placed in neighborhoods with Burmese Muslims.   What I would like to know is why would these volags assume that conflicts from the camps would not extend to neighborhoods in America?

One final thought–if the community of Ft. Wayne is all for more refugee resettlement, why close the meeting to the public?   Doesn’t Indiana have ‘open meeting’ laws?

Top 10 Volags for 2008

The US State Department has announced its top 10 volags (voluntary agencies) that will be responsible for resettling refugees in 2008.    There are no surprises, these 10 seem to have a monopoly on the refugee market.  In its fact sheet released yesterday the State Department also notes that these 10 contractors have 350 affiliated agencies (subcontractors) scattered around the country.

The agencies participating in the Refugee Admissions Reception and Placement Program in FY2008 are:

Church World Service

Episcopal Migration Ministries

Ethiopian Community Development Council

Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society

Iowa Bureau of Refugee Services

International Rescue Committee

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants

 World Relief

If you go to Table C of the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s 2005 Annual Report to Congress here, you can begin your research on the Top 10.