I didn’t know it until the other day when I saw that the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (one of the Top Ten Federal government refugee contractors) was asking visitors to its website to lobby their Member of Congress to join the caucus.
As I have complained many times on these pages, I hate to see supposed non-profit groups (especially “religious” ones) receiving your tax money and then turning around and spending time and resources on lobbying. Meanwhile, as we chronicle here almost daily, refugees are suffering when resettlement agencies leave them in a lurch.
Here is what HIAS says on its “Advocacy” page:
Urge your Representatives to join the Congressional Refugee Caucus
This bipartisan caucus was formed in 2003 to give greater visibility to refugees, internally displaced persons, and asylum seekers to mobilize support within the House of Representatives for refugee resettlement and overseas protection and assistance. As a member of the Caucus, your Representative will help the U.S. Government keep abreast of actions needed to sustain U.S. leadership in responding to the global refugee crisis and represent our refugee community members.
I then went looking for more information on this “2003” caucus and found this reference which tells us it was newly formed and registered only this year and that it has no members listed. Why the discrepancy?
However, back at HIAS we learn who the members are. And, in case you are at a loss as to what to tell your Member of Congress when you appeal for him or her to join, they have kindly drafted a letter for you. Here it is:
I am writing to urge you to join the Congressional Refugee Caucus, chaired by Reps. John Conyers (D-MI-14), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-16), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL-21), and Chris Smith (R-NJ-04). This bipartisan caucus was formed in 2003 to give greater visibility to refugees, internally displaced persons, and asylum seekers around the world and to mobilize support within the House of Representatives for refugee resettlement and overseas protection and assistance.
The United States has a rich tradition of providing safety and freedom to men, women, and children fleeing persecution due to their religion, race, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Every year, a limited number of carefully screened refugees enter the United States through the refugee admissions program administered by the Department of State. Refugee resettlement agencies provide initial housing, English classes, job training and placement, and other needed assistance needs as these newcomers transition to life in the United States.
The economic downturn has drastically impacted refugees resettled in the United States. Today, refugees experience great difficulty finding work and paying rent. Having experienced persecution and hardship, refugees arrive in hope of safety, security, and stability in the United States. If they are not provided the opportunity and the tools necessary to support their families, we are not fulfilling our humanitarian responsibility to help these individuals build new lives in the United States. This crisis is happening at a time when violence and vulnerability are increasing around the world. Please help the United States maintain its rich tradition of protecting victims of persecution and welcoming refugees who contribute positively to our country. The refugee caucus has been an important vehicle for taking action on behalf of refugees worldwide and monitoring our effectiveness in responding to humanitarian crises.
As your constituent, I sincerely urge you to become a member of the Bipartisan Congressional Refugee Caucus. Your voice as a member of the caucus will help the U.S. government keep abreast of actions needed to sustain U.S. leadership in responding to the global refugee crisis and represent our refugee community members.
Thank you for your attention to this important issue. If you are interested in joining the Congressional Refugee Caucus, please contact Andres Jimenez at (202) 225-5380 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, please let me know if you would like more information about refugee resettlement or if we can be helpful in your support of refugee issues.
Here is what I recommend to our readers, if you see a problem with refugees, any problem, or maybe a story here at RRW, then send it to the Members of Congress listed as the present members of this “bipartisan” caucus. Also send the information to Mr. Jimenez noted in this letter as well. Oh, and don’t forget to copy anything you send to your own Representative and your two US Senators!
I believe what we are seeing is the construction of a coalition of supporters in Congress so that the Top Ten contractors can more easily appeal for more funding (from you) for them. I think Members of Congress should get the complete picture of the refugee program, don’t you?