Resettlement cities: old article refreshes my memory

In response to my post this week on Boise, ID,  a reader (Infinicat) brought to my attention an article in the Washington Post from 2006.   The article is entitled “More refugees are settling in mid-sized cities, study finds” and discusses a Brookings study by Audrey Singer.   We wrote about the Singer report here last year.

Reading the Post article today brings to mind a few points we raised long ago, but perhaps need to be brought to the forefront again as citizens in various cities are wondering how their city was chosen as a resettlement city.

We’ve written previously that it is our understanding that the Clinton administration directed that refugees be resettled throughout the US, thus taking pressure off the traditional gateway cities.   This is pretty much what has happened.   

The article on Boise added more information when we learned that the volags meet once a week to choose resettlement cities.

It also reminded me that the National Governors Association wrote the following in its Policy Position on Immigration and Refugee Resettlement in March 2007. 

The Governors continue to be concerned about the lack of adequate consultation on the part of the voluntary agencies (VOLAGs) and their local affiliates in the initial placement of refugees and on the part of the federal government in the equitable distribution of refugees and entrants.

States have continually urged the federal government to establish a mechanism to ensure appropriate coordination and consultation. However, significant progress has not been made and the following mechanisms need to be considered to address this problem.

Read the rest of this important Policy document and see the Governors’ recommendations.

So, it was especially interesting to see (in the Washington Post article) that the states of Pennsylvania, North Dakota and Iowa were losing population and actually lobbying for refugees.   But, who in the state? —the Governor, the legislature or a bunch of volags in need of more clients. 

Some states, such as Iowa, Pennsylvania and North Dakota, have been lobbying for refugees, Singer said. “Iowa is experiencing population decline and looking into its future and sees refugee resettlement as a vital way of keeping up population,” she said.

Read the whole 2006 Washington Post article, it contains some interesting numbers and a very informative graphic.

Readers in Pennsylvania, Iowa and North Dakota might want to look into the claim that your states are actively lobbying for refugees.