Illinois: Too many refugees, too little money! (Cue the weeping)

They are wailing and rending garments in the land of too many refugees according to this lengthy and very informative article in Medill Reports:

[LOL! After the standard practice of featuring a successful refugee—ed] The Ethiopian association is one of the refugee resettlement agencies in Illinois, which are struggling under a triple burden as the number of refugees steadily climbs: large cuts in federal funding, a greater range of native languages among refugees and the recession.

Illinois has the largest immigrant population in the Midwest as shown here in data collected at the Univ. of Minnesota.  Medill continued:

Tens years of resettlement represented here (23,220). However, according to Silverman’s office in the Illinois Dept. of Human Services, Illinois has resettled 145,000 since 1975.

Illinois has received about 23,220 refugees from 66 countries since 2000, and the flow has steadily increased since 2006, according to data of refugee arrivals in Illinois from the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Feds cut our money,while refugee numbers rise!  (They haven’t seen anything yet, wait till the sequester hits Refugee Resettlement!)

Cook, Kane and DuPage counties have unusually large refugee populations, making the state eligible for targeted assistance from the federal resettlement agency, according to Edwin Silverman, chief of the Bureau of Refugee and Immigrant Services at the Illinois Department of Human Services.  [Here is our Ed Silverman archive for the curious reader—ed]

However, in recent years the federal allocation to Illinois has been cut by more than 50 percent, according to official funding data.

“In the year 2000, we received $7.3 million in combined refugee social services and targeted assistance, and in 2012, we received $3.5 million,” Silverman said.

Federal funding to the state has fallen while refugee numbers have increased in Illinois, because they have also increased in other states.

More diversity=more difficulty

In the face of these cuts, resettlement agencies are striving to meet the needs of a greater diversity of refugees.

Over the past decade, the refugee population has become increasingly diverse linguistically, with wide-ranging educational and employment histories, according to a recent report issued by the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

This makes it more challenging for resettlement agencies accustomed to receiving refugees from a limited number of countries.

More refugees=more unemployment  (by the way, readers, they could say “NO!” to the State Department and ask that the numbers be reduced.)

Achievement of self-sufficiency for refugees has also become more difficult in recent years, according to a 2011 research report for Congress by Andorra Bruno, a specialist in immigration policy.

The recession has played a major part, making it difficult for refugees to find employment and become economically self-sufficient.

Oh NO!  The real horror, Silverman says they have to do private fundraising!

“Finding employment is the biggest problem,” said Erku Yimer, the executive director of the Ethiopian association. “Because many of the companies that hire refugees are not hiring anymore.”

The subsidies resettlement agencies provide refugees is the only financial resource for those who can’t find work. The recession means those who are looking for a job rely on these subsidies for a longer period of time than in the past, Silverman said.  [Not exactly true, refugees are accessing welfare at accelerating rates, most of the contractors are putting their charges on the public dole as soon as they can!—ed]

“So in addition to providing resettlement service, the resettlement agencies have had to be in a constant process of fundraising from the private sector, in order to assure that refugees can pay their rent and don’t go homeless,” Silverman said.

Readers when this program first became law in 1980 (thanks to Ted Kennedy, Joe Biden and Jimmy Carter among others) the understanding was that refugees would quickly become self-sufficient and not be part of a permanent underclass.  Also, the program was to be funded through a PUBLIC-PRIVATE partnership.  Over the years the contractors got lazy and became increasingly dependent on the taxpayer to support THEIR charitable desires and the public is now largely on the hook.

If they have to exert themselves and do private fundraising now, too bad!  They should have been doing that all along.  [sounds of wailing!]

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