Nuggets from the “celebration:” Practice what we preach

As I told you here, I attended the Washington, DC shindig at Georgetown Law in “celebration” of the 30th anniversary of the Refugee Resettlement Act of 1980.  The morning keynote speaker was Eric Schwartz, Asst. Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, clearly a darling of Human Rights First.  (They have one of theirs in the job now!)

Since I just a few minutes ago told you about the growing controversy in Ft. Wayne, IN, I wanted to tell you what Schwartz told the audience on Tuesday in a speech which was focused on the idea of ‘practicing what we preach’ regarding human rights in order to send this message to the world—be good to your people.   So, I wondered how he could make this assertion when so much of the refugee program is NOT being good to the people—either refugees or American citizens.

Here are just a couple of paragraphs in his speech (which was predominantly your typical bureaucrats speech) that relate to Ft. Wayne.

Our admissions program must vindicate protection objectives that include the interests of those persons we are resettling, but our goals must be much broader. And, indeed, through or in coordination with our admissions program, we have enhanced the capacity of UNHCR to identify vulnerable communities in need of resettlement, to develop innovative interim protection measures – such as emergency transit centers in many parts of the world – and to use our resettlement programs as a tool to encourage host government policies of greater tolerance. We have also been able to encourage other governments to do more on refugee resettlement issues, and we’ve promoted burden sharing. But again, we can best accomplish these and other objectives when our actions at home are models of good behavior for others to emulate abroad. [LOL!-ed]

With that element in mind, and early in my tenure, I visited Chicago, Fort Wayne, Indiana and Minneapolis/St. Paul, to learn more about our efforts to meet the resettlement needs of newly arriving refugees – Bhutanese, Burmese, Burundians, Hmong, Iraqis and so many others. What I saw was both heartening and dismaying. It was so gratifying to witness the deep and abiding commitment to refugees among overworked and underpaid agency personnel in the field, the determination of new arrivals, and the welcoming spirit of local school, healthcare and government officials. On the other hand, it was very sad to meet with refugees who had severe problems that go well beyond the challenges that any new arrival should have to confront. I heard from refugees threatened with eviction after only months in the United States. I learned that refugees often had to choose between buying food or diapers for their children. And I spoke with agency field staff overburdened by the number of refugee families they serve and the complexity of the resettlement service needs of recent arrivals.  [Note he does not say a thing about overburdened cities!]

Meanwhile he is off to visit with other overburdened cities—Phoenix and Denver—but I can assure you the conclusion that will be drawn is not that the flow of refugees needs to slow, only that we taxpayers need to send more “resources!”

From the daily appointment schedule for the State Department yesterday:

Under Secretary Otero and Assistant Secretary Schwartz will travel March 16-18, 2010 to Denver and Phoenix to meet with resettled refugees, refugee resettlement agencies, and local and state government officials.

5:30 p.m. Under Secretary Otero and Assistant Secretary Schwartz hold a media roundtable after meeting with the refugee resettlement community in Denver, at the offices of the Colorado Refugee Resettlement Program.

No mention of course whether some local residents with problems with the refugee program will be in attendance.   Mr. Schwartz knows the program is ready to explode, cities are overburdened, there are no jobs, the resettlement agencies are doing less than stellar work and yet he continues to meet only with those who have a vested interest in painting a positive picture of the refugee resettlement program.  Solving the problem, other than redistributing (your) wealth to it, doesn’t seem to be the goal.

Is he (and Obama) purposefully creating a “crisis” by continuing to resettle tens of thousands of refugees who will need public assistance because there is no work for them.   That is what Schwartz’s old bosses, George Soros and the cabal at the Tides Foundation would do!

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