Utah: Too many refugees? Just say, no! Wyoming did!

Utah is feeling the strain with too many refugees for the welfare system to handle. No sympathy here because you could just say, no! Tell the US State Department to tell their NGO contractors to cut the flow until you can get caught up with the needs of your own destitute people before they send you more from all corners of the world.  If you have trouble getting the State Department’s attention, then tell your Congressional delegation to get involved. 

Here is what the Salt Lake Tribune says today:

The dilemma has been raised on the governor’s advisory committee examining refugee services, said Michael Gallegos, director of the Salt Lake County Division of Community Resources and Development. “The question has come up: Can we turn the faucet down a little bit so we can get prepared and deal with issues already in front of us?” he said. “We don’t have the capacity to serve the refugees we have right now.”

Upon arrival, refugees are eligible for food stamps, cash assistance programs, Medicaid and other services, some of which are available for years, some for as little as eight months.

But after receiving initial housing assistance, refugee families join thousands of other Utahns hoping to obtain a federal subsidy that can significantly discount their rent. Many in this new wave of refugees will join more than 4,000 residents already on the Salt Lake City Housing Authority waiting list. They will have to wait at least two years to get a housing discount voucher

Frankly, I don’t get this. What is everyone so afraid of?  Afraid of looking “unwelcoming”?  Maybe someone will call you a racist?  There is nothing wrong with saying, we need a little breather here.  Wyoming does not participate in refugee resettlement and I don’t see that state maligned for the decision. 

Then this last line is really annoying.   

Refugees often feel helpless and alone when faced with a stack of critical documents linking them to food, medical care and other services .
“We’ve had people say, ‘It was better in the camps,’ ” Brown [Utah Refugee Services Director] said. 

We have from the earliest days of writing this blog advocated for the institution of a social and economic impact study of cities and states to help determine if a locale could handle new refugees.  If it was regularly updated better planning would surely result.

We have an extensive archive on Utah here.  Sadly Utah made the news a few months ago as the location where a little Burmese refugee girl was raped and murdered by another refugee in their housing complex.

South African TB patients riot

While I’m on the subject of infectious diseases this morning, here is a frightening story from South Africa thanks to blulitespecial. 

CAPE TOWN, South Africa – Authorities increased security Friday at a tuberculosis hospital where patients with drug-resistant forms of the disease went on a rampage to protest prison-like conditions.

Twenty-two patients were arrested Wednesday, accused of public violence and assault after they pelted staff with stones and vandalized equipment. But the local police station and prison refused to admit them because of fears of the highly infectious disease. Instead, they were returned to the hospital.

The Jose Pearson hospital, near the coastal city of Port Elizabeth, treats about 300 patients. Many have multidrug-resistant TB and the even more dangerous extensively drug-resistant TB, which is very difficult and expensive to treat. Those with drug-resistant strains are supposed to stay in the hospital for six months to two years, living in isolated wards surrounded by barbed wire and security guards.

South African authorities have reluctantly resorted to enforced confinement of patients with drug-resistant TB because of fears that it might otherwise spread through the community. TB is an airborne bacteria and can be spread easily through coughing or sneezing.

The country is gripped by a tuberculosis crisis, which is feeding off the AIDS epidemic and striking the weakened immune system of victims. Nearly 60 percent of South African TB patients have AIDS. The emergence of drug-resistant TB strains — often the result of not sticking to the standard six-month course of treatment — has worsened patients’ chances of survival.

Why am I telling you this, because as the “rainbow nation” implodes (I wonder if that was discussed at the star-studded Mandela birthday bash this week) we are going to be pressured to take refugees newly created by the violence against immigrants in South Africa.

We are already admitting refugees with HIV and TB.  And, I will bet you a buck that the refugees that roam from city to city are not sticking with their six-month long treatment regime and that the volags are not following up on these people.    A Somali refugee died of TB in a Tyson’s plant in Emporia, KS last year.  Bet you didn’t hear that in the news.

Chris Coen weighs in on World Relief and Fort Wayne

Earlier this month we reported on a volag “cat fight” going on in Ft. Wayne, IN.  It seems that volag World Relief (Corporation of National Association of Evangelicals) is trying to horn in on Catholic Charities lucrative territory in Ft. Wayne.  

As we have reported many times on this blog, these agencies are paid by the head to resettle refugees and so they are often competitive.   In the case of Ft. Wayne there are huge numbers of Burmese going to that city which has put out the refugee welcome mat.   Those refugees want to bring family members to Ft. Wayne, and refugees in camps in Thailand also request resettlement in Ft. Wayne because they want to live near people like themselves.

This week the Journal Gazette in Ft. Wayne published this letter (scroll down) from Chris Coen of Friends of Refugees

Refugee agencies rife with problems

I saw the editorial “Helping refugees”  regarding World Relief’s proposal to open an office in Fort Wayne. I don’t know whether its presence in Fort Wayne will be good for all or not, but my experience with World Relief has not been positive. I am an independent volunteer assisting refugees since 2001. I started a group to monitor the U.S. refugee resettlement program with a small group of volunteers in 2002.

We found refugees who were being neglected and abused by their World Relief agency in 2003-05 north of Tampa, Fla. That refugee program was subsequently shuttered by the Department of State in 2006 because of the neglect of the refugees.

World Relief also seems to have some irregularities in its accounting.

In fairness to World Relief, though, there seem to be quite a few irregularities and neglect of refugees in the U.S Refugee Resettlement Program. There is also extensive documentation of Catholic Charities and the other eight national refugee resettlement agencies neglecting refugees. The State Department has done very little to clean up the problems.

CHRISTOPHER COEN Friends of Refugees Minneapolis

I have on my desk a GAO (General Accounting Office) investigative report on World Relief from 2004.  The report is highly critical of the volag which could not properly account for over $2 million in federal funds.  I don’t know if they have cleaned up the shoddy accounting practices or not.

One interesting little bit in the report was that when refugee numbers declined dramatically in the years immediately following 9/11, World Relief spent more federal dollars than the GAO thought reasonable.  I’m going to bet however that all the volags had a shopping spree during this time because the federal government responded to their plea for funding at the same level as pre-September 11th because the volags complained that they needed to keep offices open and paying staff in anticipation of a return to the higher number of refugees.     Bottomline is that we taxpayers paid for all these non-profits to stay in business even though the refugee numbers were extremely low for a couple of years.

A related matter appeared in the Journal Gazette in mid-June.

The Health Department in Ft. Wayne has been financially strapped due to the huge number of refugees that need vacinations and treatment for HIV and TB.   Buried in another article about outdoor cooking rules is this information:

Waldron [Health Dept. Administrator] said the county commissioners have indicated they will approve $2 million toward relocation of the infectious disease clinic.

With the growing demands in refugee care, the health department needs additional space, and commissioners have asked the department to explore existing clinic sites or other buildings that could be used by the health department. 

But, what can you do?   As I said earlier Ft. Wayne has put out the word that it is a “welcoming” city.