Update June 6th: More from Friends of Refugees about hand-selected refugees who presumably will tow the line sponsored to go to the Grand Hyatt by the International Rescue Committee, here.
Update June 3: Friends of Refugees has more on this consultation and about how some former refugees can’t go to relate their concerns about the programs failings, here.
Here is the official invitation from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). Although Eskinder Negash, formerly of the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (a federal contractor) and now director of ORR (see revolving door), says you are all invited, he doesn’t really mean you—the taxpaying public! By that I mean when I first heard about this I tried to register but I’m an “other” and the “other” category closed out immediately (I bet they had two spots for “others”!) Now I see the registration is completely closed. Anyway below is Director Negash’s friendly sounding invite:
It is my pleasure to invite you to the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s (ORR) 2010 National Consultation, Honoring 30 Years of Service: Commitment, Hope, and Dignity, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington D.C. on Monday, June 7, 2010 and Tuesday, June 8, 2010.
As you may know, for the past three decades, ORR, in partnership with states and non-profit agencies, have helped refugees and other vulnerable populations achieve self-sufficiency and resettle in the United States by providing short-term cash and medical assistance, employment services, transportation, translation/interpreter services, English language instruction, case management, vocational training, and many other services. In an effort to better support the refugee community, ORR hosts a national consultation with its federal, state and local partners each year. This year’s consultation will feature several small-group dialogue sessions to facilitate consultation between ORR and its stakeholders and a listening session dedicated to refugee leaders and refugee community members. Your participation in these sessions, as refugee resettlement professionals and refugees, is critical to the success of the consultation.
Immediately following the consultation, ORR will host a working session on Wednesday, June 9, 2010 and Thursday, June 10, 2010, also at the Grand Hyatt in Washington D. C. I encourage State Refugee Coordinators, Refugee Health Coordinators and individuals working in the Wilson/Fish and Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (URM) programs to participate in these sessions.
I hope that you will be able to join us at ORR’s 2010 National Consultation and the training days that immediately follow. I look forward to your participation in helping to expand the national dialogue on the refugee program as we highlight innovative programmatic directions, address current challenges facing incoming populations, and celebrate 30 years of refugee resettlement.
Office of Refugee Resettlement
The Grand Hyatt!
First off, don’t you just love it that when the economy is still sinking and refugees are out of work (along with a lot of other people) and fearing evictions from their apartments, we have the federal refugee gang and all the non-profit humanitarian groups meeting in the Grand Hyatt in Washington DC! Check out the Grand Hyatt here (Escape to extraordinary elegance at Grand Hyatt Washington). Rooms start at around $226 for one person (assuming you signed up in time). I know for sure there are less expensive conference venues just across the river in Northern Virginia. Almost every attendee will be on the taxpayers’ dime because the humanitarian refugee industry is now almost completely funded by you.
They are bringing in select refugees
The word went out from Mr. Negash’s office in early May that the Washington folks wanted to meet some refugees and hear directly from them about how things are going. However, the memo indicates that refugees would have to find “sponsors” to pay their way to Washington and their stay at the Grand Hyatt. So, my question is, won’t the refugees say just what their “sponsors” want them to say since the likely sponsors would be the resettlement contractors. What do you think the odds are that any refugee making waves and voicing criticism of the program will be there?