Bad News! Another state relinquishes control of refugee program to a non-profit

We first focused on this issue in Tennessee but it seems that, at least according to a spokesman for Lutheran Social Services, 10-15 other states have given over the Refugee Resettlement program almost entirely to a non-profit federal contractor.  This AP story tells us North Dakota has put the fox in charge of the hen house!  

Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota now will assume most of the administrative responsibilities involved in resettling refugees in the state under an agreement with state officials.

The North Dakota Department of Human Services will remain responsible for unaccompanied refugee minors and for refugee medical assistance under an agreement approved by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement.

The state and LSS, with refugee resettlement offices in Fargo, Bismarck and Grand Forks, have worked together for more than two decades.

“This change makes sense because the department was contracting with LSS for many refugee services, and their organization has expertise,” said Carol Olson, executive director of the Department of Human Services.

Think about this! 

Granted most state refugee coordinators and their offices had little control as it was (except for a few good ones), but with this arrangement there is no accountability to the citizens of the state for refugee care or conversely for refugee impacts on communities.  The refugee resettlement program in those 10-15 states is now more than ever in the hands of federal contractors—quasi non-profit group managers who have no one keeping an eye on them but a distant staff in the US State Department.

Frankly, I’ve been advocating all along that this program be reformed by going the other way—get rid of the federal contractors altogether and have the program run from state offices with some accountablility to the state government and to elected officials and voters!

One more usurpation of States rights! 

Got a complaint with refugee resettlement in your state?  Write directly to the US State Department!

Eric P. Schwartz (with a copy to Barbara Day)

Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration

US Dept. of State

2201 C St. NW

Washington, DC 20520

AND DON’T FORGET!  Any letter you send to him should be copied to your Senators and Representative in Congress, with a question.  That is, you need to ask your elected officials to do something—answer a question for you—not just copy the letter otherwise they will ignore it.   Well, they might ignore it anyway, but you have a better shot at getting some action if you ask them to take action!

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