Resettlement agencies can say “no” to more refugees, so can cities and states! USCRI affiliate (Part 2)

This post is a follow-up to the post I just wrote (Part 1) on allegations that an USCRI affiliate, Jewish Vocational Services (JVS), in Kansas City, MO was not taking good care of refugees.

The Jewish Chronicle cites the standard defense—the economy is bad— but other information here is extremely informative.

That doesn’t mean JVS isn’t feeling a pinch. The agency receives an annual refugee social-service grant, made up of federal monies funneled through the state of Missouri. The amount JVS gets is based on the number of refugees it serves over a three-year period. [no clients=no taxpayer money!]

Because JVS’s refugee numbers had fallen during the previous three-year period, its annual funding for post-arrival services dropped from $470,000 last year to $320,000 this year. Then refugee arrivals increased, putting the squeeze on agency finances. And because JVS has just begun a new three-year cycle, Foster said, it could take two more years before its annual post-arrival funding goes back up.

“The whole situation is really difficult right now, because of the job situation and the economy … we’re struggling after they arrive, finding employment for them. There’s a limited amount of funding for each refugee, and if they can’t get a job as quickly as they have historically, they’re responsible for all of their finances in short order … Without a job, it’s difficult for them to pay the bills,” Foster said. “It’s not like no one’s getting jobs, but it’s a lot more difficult.”

JVS’s national partner, the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, provides funding for pre-arrival and arrival costs, as well as for the first few months in the United States, though not necessarily six months, as stated in the Star’s story, Foster said.

JVS says they cannot say “no” to more refugees, that the State Department just keeps them coming.

JVS can’t simply reduce the number of refugees it brings to Kansas City, because the State Department determines how many people will be allowed in the country as refugees and parcels them out amongst about 300 agencies nationwide.

Well, that is funny.  Didn’t a State Department spokesman just say this, quoted in Part 1 of this story:

“These groups are signing a cooperative agreement based on the idea that they will make these payments,” mostly through private fundraising and matching grants, said U.S. State Department spokesman Todd Pierce. “Otherwise they wouldn’t be accepting the refugees.”

Cities can say “no” too!   Detroit and Atlanta have already!     This is more real news from the Kansas story from May.   Apparently Kansas Catholic Charities has told their bosses at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops—keep the numbers down in Kansas!

On the Kansas side, resettlement of refugees is handled through Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas. Its president, Jan Lewis, said she can empathize with any agency struggling to meet the needs of the area’s swelling refugee population.

Because larger cities such as Detroit and Atlanta have told federal officials to send no additional refugees, the State Department has ramped up expectations on communities such as Kansas City, where low housing costs are appealing, Lewis said.

“Last year, they told us we’d get 150 refugees, and we wound up taking in 317,” Lewis said. “This year, if we took in all that the government wants us to take, we’d be getting 500.”

Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas has agreed to accept about 350 this year and recently told the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops — one of nine groups nationwide that allocate refugees — it must stick to that agreement.

States can legally opt-out of the entire Refugee Resettlement Program

We are constantly told that nothing can be done.  The federal government holds all the cards on refugee resettlement, but it isn’t true!  We just learned that Atlanta and Detroit said to close the spigot, presumably because they can’t handle more importation of poverty.

According to the code of federal regulations governing the program, a State can exercise its ‘state’s rights’ and withdraw from the program too.  See this post I wrote in February of this year explaining how that works.   The Feds will make it tough on the state, and these refugee agencies will scream bloody murder, but it can be done!  Wyoming is out!

USCRI affiliate in Kansas City, MO not taking care of refugees, employees quit (Part 1)

Humm!  Sound familiar, same old story, this time it’s Jewish Vocational Services, an affiliate of the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) making the news.   This article was posted at Kansas in May.  We missed it then but it came to our attention when a follow-up article was reported yesterday in the Jewish Chronicle.   I’ll write about the follow-up in part 2.

From Kansas

In their first month of life in Kansas City, Sudanese refugees Elamin Suraj, Wafa Kut and their three young children had no hot running water. 

The Peery Street apartment provided to the family had other issues, too: grime on the walls, basement mold, cupboard doors that fell off the hinges and a lonely couch so dirty that Suraj, the father, refused to sit on it.

“Please take me back to refugee camp if government can’t help me,” he wrote earlier this month to Jewish Vocational Service, the nonprofit agency that brought his family here. 

A mile away on Maple Street, a Somali family of eight — none of them with jobs — faces eviction just five months into their American experience.

“Why do they bring us here if there’s no money to help us get started?” said Asma Siraj, 21, whose siblings share two apartment units, one in which the fourth and fifth months’ rent are overdue.

Readers, you get the picture, we have now written dozens of posts on this very same problem, resettlement agencies won’t say no to more refugees because they receive their government payments by the head and so they keep bringing them in, putting them in substandard housing (slums!) and then cry that they have no money.

USCRI seems to be a leader in this strategy.  See this post of a few days ago where a commenter in Vermont says the same thing about an USCRI affiliate there (note the other links in that post to other cities and other affiliates).

A State Department spokesman reminds us again that these agencies, like Jewish Vocational Services, are part of a public-private partnership and they are supposed to come up with the extra needed funds.

But even in a sour job market, federal authorities expect resettlement groups such as Jewish Vocational Service to cover refugees’ essential needs for up to six months, if need be.

“These groups are signing a cooperative agreement based on the idea that they will make these payments,” mostly through private fundraising and matching grants, said U.S. State Department spokesman Todd Pierce. “Otherwise they wouldn’t be accepting the refugees.”

All of the above is the same old story.    But, this one line is what really got my attention.

At least two top directors at the agency tendered their resignations this spring, citing management decisions and their impact on the clients.

That is the story I would like to know more about!