Here we go again! This time it’s Ansonia, CT

I had completely missed this story back in March and only learned about the problems developing in Ansonia, CT while reading Friends of Refugees blog yesterday.

I’m incensed for two reasons.  First, this Connecticut town was obviously not told in advance that the International Institute of Connecticut was bringing Bhutanese (not that it matters that they are Bhutanese) refugees to their town (see also my post yesterday about the tens of thousands of Bhutanese brought to the US this year already).  And, secondly, I’m livid because there is no mention in these stories that the International Institute in Waterbury, CT was closed by the US State Department  a couple of years ago for leaving mostly Burmese refugees living in squalor and their needs not attended to until church people in Waterbury stepped in to rescue the refugees.

I’ll get to the latest story from Ansonia shortly, but here is the first story I missed in March.  I have been ranting for years that towns need to be included in the planning process BEFORE refugees arrive.  This obviously did not happen in Ansonia.

Why was Ansonia picked?

One political leader in Ansonia is concerned that having the families relocated here will mean more strain on already tight resources in town.

“Why was Ansonia, when we need so much help here ourselves, why was this picked as a place to bring other people who need help?” said Republican Town Committee Chairwoman Joan Radin. “I don’t understand how you can bring people into an area where people are already depressed.”

Radin said she isn’t against helping people, but she’s concerned that valuable job training programs would be directed toward the refugees instead of Valley residents.

Radin is also concerned that the children in the families will put a strain on the school system, which is already struggling to meet state demands for student achievement levels.

“I think it’s wonderful to help people — don’t get me wrong,” Radin said. “But when you’re already in a position when you can’t help anymore, what do you do?”

Dear Ms. Radin, your town was picked in a secret process just outside of Washington, DC where these government contractors like the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (the parent organization of IIC) sit around a table and literally put pins in a map.

There is no apparent rhyme or reason for their choices of resettlement cities (except that some are working directly with employers to bring them cheap labor, others want to add to the Democratic voter roles).  They just obviously hope to slip in the refugees before anyone gets wind of it, then they will call you and your town “unwelcoming” for saying just what you have said.  They are required by law to consult with your town (see Manchester, NH post) and maybe in Ansonia they found a couple of  social justice churches and a few Far Left political leaders with whom to “consult.”  But consultation is a sham!

And, then this is really disturbing!   They wanted a small town feel!

IIC has resettled refugees in Connecticut before, Mackwell said. Through experience, the organization has determined that a big city like Waterbury or Bridgeport is not always the best place for resettlement.

They were just not good places for refugees,” Mackwell said. “We were looking for a small town feel.”

THE INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE OF CONNECTICUT WAS CLOSED BY THE US STATE DEPARTMENT IN WATERBURY FOR NOT CARING FOR REFUGEES  IN THE MANNER REQUIRED BY THEIR STATE DEPARTMENT CONTRACT (yes, that is me shouting!). Thanks to a sympathetic church community, a dogged willingness to investigate by the Waterbury paper, The Republican-American, and one tough brave reporter, the scandal was exposed.  See my post on the closure here two years ago in May 2008.   We had learned by experience we needed a small town feel—what a bunch of bunk!  They were shut down in Waterbury!

You know what else is stunning?  Ansonia and Waterbury are 16 miles apart and the scandal in Waterbury is only two years old but it seems that the people of Ansonia don’t know what happened in Waterbury with refugees and you can bet the IIC isn’t going to inform them!

Now to the May 7th Valley Independent Sentinel report from Ansonia.  We have no room in our schools and our community cannot afford it!

Ansonia —School officials are worried they won’t be able to adequately educate a group of refugees that have arrived in Ansonia from Nepal.

This week the city’s tax board recommended a zero-percent increase for the school district.

At a school board meeting Wednesday, school Superintendent Carol Merlone worried about the combination of low funding and refugee students in the district.

School officials said the school district only has one English as a Second Language teacher per school. They’re worried about the ESL teachers being overwhelmed due to the arrival of the refugee students who do not speak English.

While the new students have been welcomed with open arms into the district, “We don’t want to overburden the school system,” the superintendent said. “I’m worried about children getting gypped.”

Refugee families have been arriving in the lower Valley since March. In all, about 10 families are expected to arrive by June.

Why aren’t refugees going to nearby larger and richer towns? Because the political powers-that-be will make sure they aren’t in their back yards.   Ted Kennedy created this program in 1980 and none have been resettled in Hyannis Port in the three decades since!

School officials wanted to know why it seems all the families are arriving in Ansonia, where the school district already faces a number of challenges, including large class sizes.

To date, no refugee students have been placed in the neighboring Derby school district.

Marshall (IIC spokesperson) said there is an oversight committee has strict criteria in deciding where to place refugees.* Number one on the list — “Housing rates have to be low,” he said.

Representatives from Marshall’s organization told the Valley Indy in March that they were looking to place people outside major cities. The refugees assimilate better in smaller communities that have accessible public transportation.

“There is an overflow of refugees already set up in Waterbury and Bridgeport,” Marshall told the school board.

While there is another refugee family due to arrive in Ansonia next week, Marshall said it is unclear whether more families will be coming to Ansonia.

About four members of the public spoke on the refugee issue. Most of the speakers expressed concerns about the situation.

* This oversight committee is just a bunch of non-profit types setting the agenda for your town.  There is NO FEDERAL REQUIREMENT for a town to take refugees.  This is just a lie that they try to sell to unsuspecting communities where people want to be kind and welcoming, but question the logic behind placing refugees in their financially overburdened towns.   The federal government could be slowing the flow of refugees right now as our economy struggles, but the Obama Administration is aiming for the highest number of refugees this federal year since 9/11.  Does that make any sense to any thinking person?

Ansonia, you can say NO! You should be aware that other towns have done so already.  For more on overloaded cities saying NO, contact me,