Is yours a “preferred community” for refugee resettlement?

Your tax dollars!

Yesterday I opened an alert in my in-box telling me that a new set of grants had been awarded for the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s “preferred communities.”    They intimate that these grants are for communities that are somehow special and welcoming, but they are really communities in refugee overload.

Here are the grants (tax dollars) awarded this week to NON-PROFIT government contractors which give you some hint as to the location of refugee overload.    Note that these grants are not awarded to say local government to deal with some refugee expense, but are administered by contractors who surely must be using some of these funds for office overhead.

Here are the cities:

Los Angeles, San Diego, Denver, Delray Beach, FL, Atlanta, Wichita, KS, Bowling Green, KY, Malden, MA, Grand Rapids, MI, Lansing, MI, Greensboro, NC, Las Vegas, NV, Buffalo, NY, Cleveland and Cleveland Heights, OH, Dayton, OH, Erie, PA, Philadelphia, Memphis, TN, Nashville, TN and Newport News, VA.

Only contractors need apply!

Here is what the ORR says about its “preferred community” grants (these are grants beyond what the contractors already get on a per head basis for the refugees they resettle).

Since the early 1990s,* preferred communities have provided resettlement services to newly arriving refugees. Preferred communities allow ample opportunities for early employment and sustained economic independence. In addition, they support special needs populations.

Two types of preferred communities programs are available.

*Programs that receive a minimum of 100 new refugees annually.
*Programs that receive a proposed number of cases that will need intensive case management.

These programs require a history of qualifications and experience in serving special needs cases.

Then they go on to make clear that ONLY the contractors who have a monopoly on the program can apply.   That would be THE Nine!   (when you look at the list I linked above, in some cases you will see some of THE Nine listed, but in fact those others listed are THE Nine’s subcontractors).   Again, say you are with a local government agency and need help with your health department because you got an overload of refugee TB cases, forget it, these grants are not for you!

ORR continues:


Nine national voluntary agencies** currently resettle refugees under a Reception and Placement Cooperative Agreement with the Department of State or with the Department of Homeland Security. The Preferred Communities program is restricted to the following agencies because placements of new arrivals occur under the terms of the cooperative agreements, and no other agencies place new arrivals or participate in determining their resettlement sites. [Note that these un-elected government contractors are choosing resettlement sites!—ed]

~Church World Service/Immigration and Refugee Program, New York NY

~Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the U.S.A., New York, NY

~Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc./Refugee Resettlement Program, Arlington VA

~HIAS, Inc. (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society)/Refugee and Immigrant Services, New York NY

~International Rescue Committee/Resettlement, New York NY

~Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Baltimore MD

~U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington DC

~U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Arlington VA

~World Relief Corporation of National Association of Evangelicals/Refugee & Immigration Programs, Baltimore MD

Here then is another list of grants (larger grants) received for “preferred communities” by The Nine.  I wonder how much they skim off the top for their office overhead before any grant money flows to a subcontractor or a locality?

Oh good! an annual report!  At the bottom of the list I just re-produced is a link to a PDF document entitled “annual report for 2011.”  As I clicked on it, I thought well maybe we have some serious documentation about how these funds were used in FY2011.  Alas, that is not to be.  It is a less than 2-page superficial (mumbo-jumbo) description of what the purpose of this grant program is, and what they “accomplished.”   Here is how it begins:

The purpose of the Preferred Communities Program is to support the resettlement of newly arriving refugees with the best opportunities for their self-sufficiency and integration into new communities; to support the development of the national voluntary agencies’ capacity to address refugee cases with special or unique needs that require more intensive case management; and to develop new capacity and provide resources for national voluntary agencies to cover the costs of changing community placements so that refugees, including those with special or unique needs, are placed in a particular site where they will have the best chance for integration.

Preferred Communities are proposed for selected localities that have excellent opportunities for newly arriving refugees to achieve early employment and sustained economic independence without public assistance.  Preferred Communities should have a history of low welfare utilization by refugees.  In addition, refugees should have the potential for earned income at a favorable level relative to the cost of living and to public assistance benefits.

Does your community have these amenities for the new immigrants?  If not, too bad for you then because your community will not be “preferred!”   I especially thought #5 was really important!  And, the way things are going, you better have “excellent medical facilities” (#8).  And, come to think of it, how is your labor market?

Characteristics of these communities include:  (1) A moderate cost of living; (2) excellent employment opportunities in a strong, entry-level  labor market; (3) affordable housing and transportation accessible for employment; and (4) low secondary out-migration rates for refugees; (5) communities that meet the religious needs of arriving populations; (6) local community support and positive reception for the refugees; (7) receptive school environments; and (8) other related community features that contribute to a favorable quality of life for arriving refugees, such as excellent medical facilities.

There is no actual accounting of how your money was used, just a glowing list of “accomplishments.”

* The redistribution of your wealth started way before Obama!

** It is still funny to me that they call these contractors voluntary agencies (VOLAGS for short) when in fact they are mostly now funded by you, the taxpayer.