Former refugee resettlement worker blows the whistle on refugee program failures; calls for moratorium

In a must-read letter to the US State Department a 25-year veteran of the International Rescue Committee (one of the largest of the top nine federal contractors) calls for a moratorium on refugee resettlement until the ORR (Office of Refugee Resettlement) and the volags (contractors) get their act together.

Boston on our minds. The IRC closed its Boston office in 2009. But, several other refugee contractors are still doing business there.

Consider this long-time Boston resident’s comments about fraud and lax security screening in the light of two posts we have written in the last two days, here and here.  It all rings true.

Editor:  This is one more, but, by far the most damning, of the testimony we have been publishing in advance of this Wednesday’s hearing at the US State Department.  All other testimonies we have received are archived here.

(Emphasis below is mine)

Ms. Anne Richard
Asst. Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration
US State Department
Washington, DC. 20520

April 27, 2013

Re: Federal Register Public Notice 8241 Comment Request

Dear Ms Richard:

I worked for the IRC in several capacities from 1980 until 2004 (caseworker, deputy director of the Boston office). In 2004, amid increasing budget constraints, I volunteered for a lay off. At the time, my heart was still into the work I loved and I continued to volunteer for two additional years, spending 3 days a week working on the family reunification program, in which I was considered an “expert.”

Early on, I grew familiar with the fraud that was rampant throughout the program, from the refugees themselves (sometimes forgivable), the overseas OPE’s (not forgivable) and on up to the UN (most unforgivable). Most of my colleagues were also aware of it, and while they often joked about it, almost no one did anything to change or challenge it.

In our work, it was all about “getting the numbers,” often at the expense of legitimate screening for “real“ refugees.

To be honest, I never turned a blind eye to obvious fraud, but had been instructed to give all refugee applicants “the benefit of the doubt.” Yet there were many applications about which I had serious reservations. Some of them were classically laughable ( “I don’t remember my mother’s name… let me make a phone call..”). There were more than a few applicants that I rejected (or referred to another Volag that might not have had the same concerns).

Being directly “in the field,” it’s often difficult to objectively see outside the perimeters of our day to day work.

My major concern was helping people re-unite with close and legitimate family members whose relationship I believed to exist in fact. I can’t tell you how many times, after resettlement that those relationships were revealed to be fraudulent. Sometimes the reasons were understandable from a human kindness point of view ( claiming an orphaned niece as a sister), but often those “relationships” were simple financial transactions.

In my long years at the IRC, I assisted many ethnic groups. I can say without reservation that the Somalis were among the most duplicitous. There was a time when I suggested that they swear on the Quran before signing the affidavit of relationship. Most of the time they would flee and not return. That practice was discontinued, being deemed politically incorrect.

All of us in the field know just how weak the “security screening” was. It’s mostly a very poor and ineffective system of simple name checks from countries that for the most part keep no records.

I personally had some concerns about some Iraqi refugees admitted in the mid 90’s.

One of them went on to become implicated in the Oklahoma City bombings. Being a volag worker, I was very protective of him but, having spent hours with him in the emergency room of a mental hospital.  I still have not been able to say to myself that he was not involved.

It is time for a moratorium on refugee resettlement until ORR and the volags get their act together.

Refugee resettlement affects every community it touches, from Lewiston ME, Minneapolis MN,  to Kansas City KS.

The Volags hide behind their time frame responsibility fences. While I agree that they do not have funding to do much beyond initial basic placement, this is hardly adequate for a successful program, when most refugees end up being on long term public assistance.

The present program is really a “resettle and dump on the community” thing. This is not fair to the communities, the refugees or the volags.

ORR has yet to release long overdue federally mandated reports that show welfare dependency rates or employment figures. Some people say that ORR may have something to hide. I tend to agree.

Refugees are not assimilating for the most part. (some argue that refugees should not “assimilate” but “integrate” but , to me, it‘s all the same, since the majority do neither.). The State Dept continues to fund MAA’s (ethnic based organizations) which only keep immigrant and refugee communities separate and ghettoized.

As someone who spent most of my adult lifetime working in this field, I ask for a serious second look at the current program.

After 9/11, I was, as always, very vocal in defense of refugees and the US refugee program , convinced that no one admitted under the program could possibly be or become a terrorist. Regrettably, my mind has changed.

I now believe that we need a moratorium on continued resettlement until such time as ORR can get its house in order and present a restructured program that can provide safe haven for those truly in need and at the same time guarantee that this currently flawed program does not admit persons unworthy of our kind-heartedness or who are unwilling to become a positive part of our national fabric.

I do think the US should continue to receive some refugees, but it needs to be a much smaller and very carefully monitored program. The current one is a huge mess and a danger to our security and a detriment to our economy and society.


Michael Sirois

No need for me to say anything further, except maybe to remind readers that S.744 (the Gang of Eight bill in the Senate) provides more funding for resettlement contractors and makes it easier for a greater number and variety of refugees/asylum seekers to gain admission to the US.

About the photo caption:  We wrote about the closure of the IRC Boston office here in 2009.  Visit it!

Nine Somali refugees to be sentenced in Minnesota terror case this week

It appears we are reaching the end of the story (this particular story!) of the twenty plus Somali youths who left the good life we gave them in America to join an al-Qaida affiliate, al-Shabab, in East Africa where they underwent jihad training.

Former “refugees” on the march in East Africa. At taxpayers’ expense we fed, housed and educated the “youths” so they would be strong and healthy to join the jihad! Think about it! Without your help they may never have grown up!

Below is a fairly brief summary of the story that we have followed extensively since 2008 here at RRW.  In fact, when you type into our search function the words ‘Somali missing youths‘ you will see an archive that probably runs to at least 50 previous posts.

The only glaring error I see here is that, perhaps recruiters appealed to the youths to help rid Somalia of Ethiopians, but that is not what this was all about.  I noticed when I went to the Senate hearing, here in March 2009, Senators Lieberman and Collins were obviously hoping it was all about “patriotism” for the homeland (a “homeland” that most had never set foot in previously!) but we learned in trial testimony later that al-Shabab was busy violently building an Islamic caliphate.

Here is the summary at the Lacrosse Tribune.   Don’t you think it’s interesting that this news will likely not appear on Fox, CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS etc. etc.

Must be a local crime story!

Nine people convicted in a government investigation of terror recruitment and financing for an al-Qaida-linked group in Somalia are to be sentenced this week in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.

Authorities say more than 20 young men have left Minnesota to join al-Shabab since 2007. Some have died, several remain at large, and others have been prosecuted in what the FBI has said is one of the largest efforts to recruit U.S. fighters to a foreign terrorist organization.

Some of the issues in the case, based on court testimony, court documents and AP interviews:


In 2007, small groups of young Somali men began holding secret meetings at a Minneapolis mosque, in cars, and at restaurants to talk about returning to their homeland to wage jihad against Ethiopians. The Ethiopians had been brought into Somalia in 2006 by its weak U.N.-backed government, but were viewed by many Somalis as invaders.

Al-Shabab recruiters in Minneapolis appealed to patriotic ideals and told young men _ some in their teens _ that it was their “duty” to return to Somalia and fight. Recruiters also quoted from the Quran, appealing to religious beliefs to deepen the fighters’ resolve.

The men began leaving Minnesota in small groups to avoid detection, with the first departing Minneapolis on Oct. 30, 2007. Additional groups left in waves over the next months and years, with some raising money for their trips under false pretenses.

The FBI began investigating in 2008. The U.S. declared al-Shabab a terrorist organization in early 2008.

Read it all.  Everything discussed in this summary was reported at some point on the pages of RRW.

Religious immigrants changing Canada’s demographics

In the last 40 years Christian immigration to Canada has dropped from 78% to 47.5%.

Baitul Islam Mosque, Maple, Ontario, Canada

I haven’t had much time of late for reports on our “welcoming” Canadian neighbors or the Australian asylum seeker on-going crisis (there they are taking failed asylum seekers off public welfare while “humanitarians” howl), so here, in order to begin catching up, is a story about Canada’s changing demographics.   I think that the reporter, Benjamin Shingler, is trying too hard to make a point that immigrants, passionate about their religion, will benefit Canada.   I wouldn’t go that far when it comes to the growing Muslim population.

From Canadian Press/AP:

While the Christian faith continues to dominate Canada’s immigrant profile, its proportion has been steadily fading. Where more than 78 per cent of immigrants to Canada prior to 1971 identified themselves as Christians, that proportion has dropped to 47.5 per cent among those who arrived over the past five years, the survey found.

Meanwhile, the Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist faiths have been growing, claiming 33 per cent of those immigrants who arrived between 2001 and 2011. Among those who arrived before 1971, that share was just 2.9 per cent. All told, the four religions accounted for some 2.4 million people in Canada in 2011, about 7.2 per cent, compared with 4.9 per cent a decade earlier.

And then there’s the non-believers: nearly one-quarter of the Canadian population, some 7.8 million people, claimed no religious affiliation in 2011, up from 16.5 per cent in 2001.

The arrival of religious immigrants has worked to offset the country’s growing secular population, said Morton Weinfeld, a sociology professor at McGill University in Montreal.

“To a certain extent, this adds a level of traditionalism to Canadian society,” Weinfeld said. “There is probably a higher level of commitment (among immigrants) to their respective faiths.”  [How does adding Muslims, Sikhs etc. add to “traditionalism” in Canada?—ed]

Unlike its predecessor, the cancelled mandatory long-form census, the results of the 2011 survey come with a caveat: because the NHS was voluntary, Statistics Canada warns that its findings carry a greater risk of “non-response error.”  [The census will become useless as it becomes voluntary.—ed]

For many immigrant groups, religion plays a vital role as new arrivals to Canada contend with the often confounding challenges and difficulties that come with establishing a new home in a completely different country, he added.

“Churches or mosques or even some synagogues help in the adjustment and integration process.”

The Hijra continues unabated (read about it)!