Here is an article from Baltimore, MD about an Iraqi translator who lost his legs when an IED exploded near his American convoy. Now he is in Maryland, a resettled refugee, and none too happy about his treatment.
Ahmed’s rough landing is hardly unique for Iraqi translators who helped the U.S. From Seattle to Phoenix to Denver, his complaints are echoed by other wounded Iraqi interpreters now trickling into the country as part of a government push to admit thousands of Iraqis.
Miserly federal support and the strain on strapped nonprofit refugee agencies have soured many maimed translators, who say they’re not getting help commensurate with their service to the U.S. in Iraq.
This line of reporting caused some readers to lash out at Ahmed for what they see as a lack of gratitude on his part that he has been given a new life in America (be sure to read the comments).
Clearly the reporter wants you to come away with the idea that the stingy federal government is to blame for all this, so it is the last comment that is the most important. Oh yeah, the federal government (read, US State Department) is to blame but not in the way you think. According to Chris Coen of Friends of Refugees there is money flowing to the volags like Lutheran Social Services in this case, but is anyone making sure they fulfill their obligations as government contractors?
Here is what Chris Coen told readers of the Baltimore Sun today:
This article says that American soldiers are buying basic necessities for Saad Ahmed with their own money, e.g. dishes and a lamp. Readers should know that the State Department contract that LSS signs in order to receive government funding actually REQUIRES them to provide basic necessities, including dishes and lamps. Why do the soldiers have to waste their money on these things when they could instead be helping Saad with other needs?
The article says that Saad sleeps on a mattress in the living room. An LSS employee said it is not always possible to find both a frame and a mattress for each refugee. This is an amazing statement. LSS’s government refugee contract, again, REQUIRES them to provide a frame and a mattress for each refugee as a minimum requirement. It’s indicated that the apartment that the Washington-area Lutheran Social Services (LSS) put Saad in is ill-suited for a wheelchair. Again, their government contracts supposedly REQUIRE them to provide disabled refugees with housing that accommodates known disabilities. LSS was said to have made an “offer” of job-seeking assistance. Yet, they are REQUIRED to provide this assistance, not simply make an offer. Saad’s LSS caseworker should have brought him some job applications by now, and/or taken Saad to places of employment to fill out applications and do interviews.
The article also mentions “miserly federal support”. Yet, refugee resettlement agencies do not rely solely on the $425 per refugee they receive from the State Department refugee resettlement program. They can also receive such government grants as refugee micro-loans program, Employment Services (lasts up to 5 years), Employment Assessment Services and On-The-Job Training, English Language Instruction, Vocational Training, Skills Certification, Day Care, Transportation, Case Management Translation/Interpreter Services, Assistance in Obtaining Employment Authorization Documents, professional refresher training and other recertification services, ownership society grants, marriage initiative grants, faith-based organization grants, community-based grants, individual development account grants, etc. By the way, the refugee program is supposed to be a “public/private partnership”. How many dollars does LSS contribute for each public dollar they consume? Refugee resettlement is supposed to be heavily financed by these “charity” organizations, such as LSS, and not rely mainly on government handouts. These handouts can be substantial.
The failure of LSS to provide these minimal household items and services is not at all unique. Our group has found these failures at refugee resettlement agencies all over the country. Until the State Department decides to start enforcing the fairly minimal “minimum requirements” of its contracts, these problems will continue.
Friends of Refugees
We are very grateful to Chris Coen for his enormous knowledge about the inner workings of this complex federal contracting program. As we have said on previous occasions, we can debate all day about how many refugees come to the US and from where, but when they get here and want to assimilate and become Americans then those paid to care for them better darn well do their jobs.