Why introduce the program to Wyoming when states with refugee resettlement are having problems? That is the gist of what Michael Elmore, a representative of a citizens’ group, told Campbell County Health trustees last week.
Why talk to a hospital board? Because county health departments/hospitals are on the front lines of taking care of newly arrived refugees with myriad health problems.
Just this morning I see a report from Philadelphia where Children’s Hospital is reporting on the Burmese refugees the hospital must clear of health problems at taxpayer expense (or is it at the expense of the hospital?):
The CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) Refugee Program works with three of the 3 resettlement agencies to care for Burmese children who come to Philadelphia within the first 30 to 60 days of their time in the U.S. CHOP physicians perform physicals, give immunizations and ensure the children will have no medical barriers to enrolling in school.
Regular readers know that we have been following the controversy in Wyoming for months.
In September of 2013, Republican governor Matt Mead wrote a letter to the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement expressing his intention of welcoming a resettlement program and thus making Wyoming the 50th state in the nation to invite in the UN, the US State Department, the US Dept. of Health and Human Services and a Lutheran resettlement contractor to change the demographic makeup of the state.
The latest from the Gillette News Record:
A representative for Citizens Protecting Wyoming, a group opposed to the state looking into adoption of a foreign refugee program, took his argument to the Campbell County Health trustees on Thursday.
During the public comment time, Gillette native Mike Elmore told trustees he hoped they would “share some of my sentiments on this” after he filled them in on the issue.
The U.S. Department of Health’s Refugee Resettlement Program “offers support for refugee victims seeking haven within the United States — including victims of human trafficking, those seeking asylum from persecution and survivors of tortures of war,” he said.
While it’s a nice idea, Elmore said the program is “a giant money-making machine using religious organizations, under the guise of federal contractors and a nonprofit organization.”
Six of the nine agencies that carry out the refugee resettlement work in the United States “like to paint themselves as faith-based charity organizations … affiliated with Catholics, Lutherans, Episcopal churches, along with two evangelical groups and one group even tied to reformed Judaism,” he said.
Elmore said these agencies rake in millions of dollars in federal grant money each year while pretending to be nonprofit organizations.
Because of that alleged corruption in the system, it’s impossible for state agencies to approach the issue of refugees in the proper way, he said.
Elmore said Mead wants to bring a federally funded program to the state, but that decision eventually will place more tax burden onto Wyoming citizens. It will also bring health impacts, such as the spread of diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, hepatitis B and gonorrhea, he said.
Wyoming is the only state without a refugee program, but “49 states are in and 49 states have problems,” Elmore said, adding that he asks all members on the hospital board to write a letter to the governor asking him to not bring such a program to Wyoming. [The Governor does not have the final say, thumbing their noses at states’ rights, the feds and their contractors can just open up shop anyway. However a lack of “welcome” from government officials will have a chilling effect on any plan.—ed]
***Lutheran Social Services is a subcontractor of Baltimore-based Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS). Note that in this post we wrote in July, LIRS linked a Casper, Wyoming office (Gillette and Casper are two cities mentioned as possible resettlement sites). However, if you go to LIRS website today the link has been erased. Have they given up? Or, are they just laying low until the political storm blows over?
Resettlement plans are very often being driven by federal contractors (like LIRS) looking for fresh territory.