We haven’t written about Ft. Wayne in awhile. Back in August I wrote about the possible arrival of another resettlement agency moving into Ft. Wayne and referred to the plans of World Relief as a ‘cat fight’ with Catholic Charities. It is really a turf fight as these federal contractors compete for refugees. Since their taxpayer supported grants are apportioned by the head, the flow of refugees to welcoming Ft. Wayne means good pickin’s.
Resettlement of refugees typically has been the work of Catholic Charities in Fort Wayne, which helped bring more than 600 to the city last year.
But World Relief, a faith-based international humanitarian aid organization, announced this year that it would open an office in Fort Wayne, in large part because of the frequent request for placements by refugees with family members in the city.
Wow, look at these numbers!
About 5,000 Burmese refugees call Fort Wayne home now, with as many as 1,600 more expected to be resettled in the city over the next two years.
The influx has strained some non-profits and social-services agencies, but the community has continued to show support.
Since the worldwide suspension by the State Department of the Family Reunification (P-3) portion of the refugee resettlement program, I’m wondering how they could be expecting so many new refugees. Of course, new refugees (free cases) are expected but this article specifically mentioned family reunification. I suppose there are also some cases of secondary migration occurring. Secondary migrants are refugees initially resettled elsewhere who then move to be near others of their nationality. If white Europeans started to do this, we would be called racists, but it’s understood (and encouraged) that immigrants want to be with their own kind.
Back to my story.
We first took notice of Ft. Wayne way back when we started writing RRW because the Allen County Health Department was overwhelmed by problems such as refugees with TB (Ft. Wayne freaking out here). I guess they must be past their health crisis of ’07.
Now it’s a job crisis:
Most of the jobs that refugees take upon their arrival in the U.S. are in light manufacturing and service industries, Mah (World Relief’s President) said.
“We’re very concerned about that,” he said.
The economic downturn, of course, isn’t unique to Fort Wayne – World Relief has two dozen offices nationwide. Mah said the federal government tries to take local economic conditions into account when placing refugees.
So where are the new 1600 refugees going to work? No one is saying.
How do the refugees get to your town?
We wrote about this a long time ago too, but I haven’t seen mention of it for awhile. If you think the US State Department is choosing your town, you are wrong. Ten non-profit groups (volags) sit around and decide weekly if your town is on their target list.
Representatives of the 10 voluntary agencies responsible for resettling refugees, including World Relief and Catholic Charities, meet weekly to discuss incoming cases.
They place cases with a local resettlement office based on criteria such as community resources, refugees’ geographic preferences and reunifications of families.