Confusing the folks in Frederick, MD, asylee or refugee?

When our refugee issue boiled up in Hagerstown, MD we learned that the largest city close to us, Frederick, MD, was also receiving refugees.    That was way back last spring.    So, I was surprised that a well-connected Frederick woman called a month or so ago to ask about the Burmese she had heard, through the grapevine, were in Frederick with more on the way.

Sure enough, now literally years after the first refugees were resettled the Frederick News Post has a couple of articles about the Burmese who started arriving there in 2002.  Here is some information from the first article.

 According to statistics from the U.S. State Department Worldwide Refugee Admission Processing System, from October 2002 to September 2007, 43 refugees from Burma moved to Frederick.

Then here is where it gets confusing.  First, our old friend Martin Ford explains that refugees go through a rigorous vetting process.

Burmese admitted to the U.S. have escaped a repressive military junta in their country and have waited in refugee camps, sometimes for months, sometimes for years, said Martin Ford, associate director of the Maryland Office for New Americans.

The office, part of the Maryland Department of Human Resources, is tasked with providing assistance in the form of money, employment services and English language training to refugees for an eight-month period after they arrive.

The refugees go through a rigorous vetting process, and are citizens before they arrive [not], he said. Refugees who need help are then sponsored by one of 10 voluntary agencies throughout the country.

Then the reporter switches gears and talks about how many of the Burmese in Frederick are actually asylees.  Asylees are a whole differant type of immigrant.  These are people who were not “vetted” in camps in Thailand, they are people who came into the country illegally and then said they were Burmese and claimed asylum from persecution in Burma.   We have really no way of knowing if what they say is true.  We don’t send investigators to Asia to find out who they are.

Asnake Yeheyis, a statistician with MONA, said that there are also Burmese in Frederick with asylum status. Asylees share the same legal definition as refugees, but obtain their status after arriving in the country.

MONA tracks only those asylees who seek benefits, which accounts for roughly less than half of the asylee population, Yeheyis said. During the same five year span, from 2002 to 2007, MONA recorded serving 22 asylees from Burma in Frederick.

According to report compiled by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics, from 2004 to 2006, the U.S. government accepted 1,612 new Burmese refugees. [In 2007, the US accepted over 15,000 with another 15,000 expected this year].   In 2006, Maryland received 524 asylees.

Also, note that the MONA representative says they only keep track of those looking for services.  I guess if your motives for being here are not necessarily pure, you might not want to sign up for government programs and English lessons.

Frankly, I was shocked that half of the so-called Burmese refugees going to Frederick were actually asylees.  And, the overall number of asylees coming to Maryland struck me as high.

This is where the line gets blurred between legal and illegal immigration.  Someone sneaks into the US from a trouble spot in the world, makes an asylum claim and bam—-welfare, food stamps, English lessons, and an employment case worker.  I guess the Mexican illegals wish they could make the persecution claim too.

Folks in Frederick need to check out a couple of posts we have done in the last few weeks.   The first is about an asylee in Philadelphia.  I think you will be shocked to see how he got into the US.  And, the other is about the tragic rape and murder of a 7-year-old Burmese Karen (Christian) refugee by a 21-year-old Burmese refugee in Utah.   I’m wondering now if he was an asylee? 

You might also want to check out the huge costs being run up by the Health Department of Ft. Wayne, IN which has the largest community of Burmese in the country.   Rumor has it too that they are experiencing friction between the Burmese Karen and the Burmese Muslims that are somehow getting into the US.

As we said in Hagerstown, the bottomline for any city is that the citizens who live there need to be given all the facts in advance of the city becoming a resettlement city.  Decide how many refugees you can afford.  Make absolutely sure that each refugee family unit has a sponsor, like a church or other group.  What good is it if the sponsor is some immigrant who has been here for a few months— that is the blind leading the blind!

My advice to Frederick, get all the facts.

 P.S.  To regular readers of RRW,  Walkersville, MD where the Ahmadiyya Muslims were seeking to build a convention center is also in Frederick County.   

Note on April 13th:  For those of you searching for more information on what happened in Hagerstown last fall, we have an entire category to your left called “September Forum,” or feel free to e-mail me through our contact address at right.

Emporia, KS has more immigrant issues cooking

Emporia, KS was embroiled in the Somali refugee issue for months (see our whole category here), now comes news that workers brought in to do welding and other work on the construction of an energy plant may have been here illegally.  One hundred Filipino workers have headed who knows where, to a town near you maybe, after the whistle was blown.  Hat tip:  Bluelitespecial. 

I guess some cities just can’t get a break!

This brings to mind a point I’ll make in the next post too.  I cringe now when I hear people say, I’m fine with legal immigration it’s the illegal that I have a problem with.   Bottomline, all immigration needs to be reformed in the United States.   Ostensibly these workers were here legally, until someone thought to check it out.   If we have a shortage of welders in the US, why aren’t we making a push to get more young people into welding and pay them well?

Check out the latest from Emporia here.

This story reminds me of the 100 Nepalese workers missing in Alabama last winter.  I wonder if they were ever found?

Global warming = more money needed for refugees

Whaaa?     I’m going to have to make a new category called “oh brother” for stories like this.  Now I’ve heard it all!    The title of the article that caught my eye is “Climate Change Taxing Churches’ Aid” and here it is:

Global warming will force faith organizations to significantly increase spending on humanitarian efforts — including refugee resettlement, feeding the hungry and disaster relief — according to a new study by the National Council of Churches.

More financial resources and volunteers will be needed because of climate change, which is expected to increase the lack of food, shelter and water, especially among the poor, the study said.

The report uses data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to quantify the financial effects of global climate change on church ministry efforts.

The council’s Church World Service and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, for example, will need to increase funding sixfold to support nearly 83,000 refugees coming to the U.S.

Also, to maintain current service levels, churches will need to double their spending on food in developing countries, the study said.

What’s this mean?  We need to increase funding sixfold to support the 83,000 refugees coming!    This year the Bush Administration’s goal is for 70,000 refugees.  It wasn’t too many years ago we were well into the hundred thousands and global warming hadn’t become an issue.   (Check out the stats here.)

And to think there will be people shelling out money to these shameless church groups because supposedly global warming is going to cause more refugees.

We definitely need an “oh brother” category!