We have previously discussed the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) office in Albany, NY here. Please go read that post to better understand the background and how the refugees might not be well-served by that agency. We have also previously posted on Peter Huston a blogger and refugee volunteer who would also like to see reforms to the present refugee resettlement program. See three previous posts here.
Yesterday Mr. Huston posted the following—a further criticism of USCRI, but he does a larger service by reminding us generally to check out the agencies where we live too. More often then not, the assumption is made that because an agency is presumed to do good work, no one dares to examine if that is true or not mostly because it is considered politically incorrect to even make a suggestion that refugees might suffer under the care of an agency contracted to help them. Just go check out that Houston Horror story of two days ago to see what I mean.
Anyway here is what Mr. Huston said. This is the bare bones, please go read the details at his blog.
Within this blog I have made some pretty harsh condemnations of USCRI-Albany, the local refugee center, and the way it operates. Quite frankly, I don’t really enjoy writing these things, then again in the last two weeks I’ve run into a couple people who know the center. They agree that the place is extremely disorganized and just rolled their eyes when it was mentioned. And interestingly enough, these were both people who had no idea how I felt about the center or that I had any real connection with it or even had a connection with refugees.
Mr. Huston then goes on to tell you what kind of things you should be looking for in your community.
Here’s some thoughts on how to do that.
1) Check the newspaper or read blogs. Do google searches on the name of the organization. See what people are saying about it.
2) Check the rate of turn over among employees and volunteers.
3) Check with the agencies it works with and their volunteers. Ask for instance, their landlord, the people who rent them property and house the refugees, AAA Used Furniture, the local health clinics, the churches they work with, and the local literacy volunteer program.
4) Check with the government agencies that do business with it.
5) Ask former refugees and immigrants from the ethnic groups whose members are served by the local refugee center.
6) Check with the Better Business Bureau.
Again, don’t listen to me. Please don’t listen to former interns. Just do your own homework. Then make your own conclusions.
Good advice, first do some research and get the facts as Mr. Huston suggests. If you find that refugees are being treated badly for whatever reason, or laws are being broken, or that taxpayer funds are being wasted or misused, take the next step and go to your local media, tell the US State Department, tell your Representatives in Congress. Do whatever it takes!