Three years of ORR annual reports still missing

But maybe they aren’t worth the paper they are written on!

I’m a broken record on this, but the LAW requires that the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (Dept. of Health and Human Services) prepare a report to Congress within three months of the close of the previous fiscal year.  The ORR is now breaking the law (here) by not sending reports for 2009, 2010 and 2011.   And, Congress doesn’t seem to care!  

The report tells us where the refugees are from and where they were resettled, then (supposedly) how the money is being spent on the refugee program and how the refugees are doing with such things as employment and welfare usage (among other things).

For example, go to Page 92 of the most recent report (2008 not completed until 2011) and note that the Middle Easterners and Africans are way above the average refugee in their dependence on Medicaid, food stamps and housing.  A whopping 60% of Middle Eastern refugees reported that they are on Medicaid and using food stamps.

How do they get those numbers?

If you are wondering, as I did, how they get these numbers I’m about to tell you.  Did you think that somewhere in your state’s food stamp office (for example) that they have identified who among their users are refugees or immigrants and that the state office then reports this to the feds and thus obtains a fairly accurate number of users.  No way!

There is a technical note at the conclusion of the report on page 95 that tells us how a “survey” is done by some outside consulting group to get the reported numbers.

By the way, that “conclusion” to the 2008 Report begins with these words!:

“In summary, findings from ORR’s 2008 survey indicate that refugees are facing difficulties attaining self-sufficiency.”

No kidding!  Imagine what the numbers must look like three years on with the weak recovery still weak.

Then there is the “Technical Note” (p.95) that tells us how they get this data.

They contracted to one of the many contractors around the Washington beltway whose business it is to get government contracts and spend taxpayers’ money.  This time the contractor is DB Consulting Group, Inc. (located in Maryland).  I would love to know how much they were paid to contact a TINY percentage of refugees to ask them if they were on welfare.  Here is a summary of about $93 million the DB Consulting Group got from the Dept. of Health and Human Services in recent years—shed a tear or two for the enormous amounts of your money going out to consultants.

If you’ve got some free time, good luck finding the specific grant/contract for tracking down refugees.

Now here (below) is what ORR tells us about their methodology and DB Consulting (in tiny print).

First some unnecessary history of their work for the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Technical Note: The ORR Annual Survey, with interviews conducted by DB Consulting Group, Inc. in the fall of 2008, is the 42nd in a series conducted since 1975. Until 1993, the survey was limited to Southeast Asian refugees. A random sample of refugees and entrants was selected from the ORR Refugee Arrivals Data System. ORR’s contractor, DB Consulting Group, Inc. contacted the family by a letter in English and a second letter in the refugee’s native language. If the person sampled was a child, an adult living in the same household was interviewed. Interviews were conducted by telephone in the refugee’s native language. The questionnaire and interview procedures were essentially the same between the 1981 survey and the 1992 survey, except that beginning in 1985 the sample was expanded to a five-year population consisting of refugees from Southeast Asia who had arrived over the most recent five years.   [So, why only Southeast Asians?  Check the annual report for 1985 (holy cow it was actually submitted to Congress right on time!) and see the table for refugees admitted in the previous 5 years, yes, Southeast Asians were the largest number, but we were bringing Ethiopians, Iranians, and even Romanians.  Why weren’t we surveying their progress?—ed]

Now to 2008.  Those numbers we see in the annual report are based on a TINY sample of refugees willing to be interviewed and expected to tell the truth.   Let me ask you, even as an American if someone called from some firm representing the government asking you about your welfare usage, are you going to answer?   Since 60% of Middle Easterners told DB Consulting that they are on food stamps, don’t you just wonder if that is true—the number could be much higher if many were fearful of telling the truth.

For the 2008 survey, a total of 1,309 households were successfully contacted and interviewed (an overall response rate of 50.3 percent, an increase over the 2007 survey response rate of 36.6 percent). Refugees included in the 2008 survey sample who had not yet resided in the U.S. for five years were contacted again for re-interview along with a new sample of refugees, Amerasians, and entrants who had arrived between May 1, 2007 and April 30, 2008. Of the 1,808 re-interview households (those that had been surveyed in prior surveys) in the 2008 sample, 953 were contacted and interviewed, and 39 were contacted but refused to be interviewed (a response rate of 52.7 percent for re-interview households). The remaining 855 re-interview households could not be traced in time to be interviewed. Of the 791 new sample households, 356 were contacted and interviewed, another 15 were contacted, but refused to cooperate, and the remaining 420 could not be traced in time to be interviewed even after the replacement households were used (a response rate of 45 percent for new sample households). The resulting responses were then weighted according to year of entry and ethnic category.

Do I have a math problem or does DB Consulting?  Of 855 households that couldn’t be traced, over 1000 had wrong or disconnected phone numbers. Huh?

And, I thought this was very interesting NINE of 855 had moved back to their home country?  How did they figure that out if their phones were disconnected?   What the heck!  I thought they came here to escape persecution!  Did they decide the persecution in their home country beats living in the US?

Of the 855 re-interview households that could not be traced in time to be interviewed, 1,050 had wrong or disconnected phone numbers. Three sampled persons were deceased and nine had moved back to their native countries. The corresponding households were thus treated as out of scope and excluded from the denominator in calculating the response rate. Of the 420 new interview households that could not be traced in time to be interviewed, 318 households had wrong or disconnected phone numbers. No telephone numbers could be found for the remaining households due to limited background even after the replacement households were used.  [Refugees have disappeared into America and are probably using cell phones—so no sense trying to track them?—ed]

By the way, if any of you spend the time to look through the USA Spending data base and find out how much ORR paid for DB Consulting to find a sample of less than a thousand refugees (willing to talk!) of the more than a quarter of a million refugees admitted in a 5 year period, let me know!

Endnote:  So when former Acting Asst. Secretary of State for PRM, David Robinson, went to Tennessee earlier this year and had a love-fest pow-wow with Catholic Charities and pronounced that refugees are “self-sufficient” within months, you can bet that was all B.S. because they actually have no clue what the real numbers are and thus what they are talking about.

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