Now that the mainstream media and the public are waking up to the UN/US State Department Refugee Admissions Program and how it has been operating for the last 35 years, I thought it would be a good idea to re-post this testimony I gave to the US State Department (first in 2012 at its annual scoping meeting and repeated in 2013 and 2014).
I just mentioned it in my previous post on annual reports.
As far as we can tell, the US State Department did not hold a public scoping hearing in 2015 (for FY2016) because we never saw a notice for it this year. In these ‘scoping meetings/hearings’ they ostensibly seek public input on the size of the program for the upcoming year and they want to know what countries should be the focus of protection.
The ‘scoping’ meeting (like a hearing) was usually held in late spring/early summer of the preceding year. Prior to our attendance in 2012, these meetings/hearings were dominated by the resettlement contractors and their groupies.
And, one more thing, the State Department does not keep and publish a hearing record for this meeting. The only way we could ever learn what others were saying was to obtain the hard copy testimony by attending in person! There ought to be a law!
Here is my testimony in 2012 (repeated in 2013 and 2014):
Ten Reasons there should be no refugees resettled in the US in FY2013—instead a moratorium should be put in place until the program is reformed and the economy completely recovers.
1) There are no jobs. The program was never meant to be simply a way to import impoverished people to the US and place them on an already overtaxed welfare system.
3) Terrorist organizations (mostly Islamic) are using the program that still clearly has many failings in the security screening system. Indeed consideration should be given to halting the resettlement of Muslims altogether. Also, the UN should have no role in choosing refugees for the US.
4) The public is not confident that screenings for potential terrorists (#3) or the incidences of other types of fraudulent entry are being properly and thoroughly investigated and stopped. When fraud is uncovered—either fraud to enter the country or illegal activity once the refugee has been resettled—punishment should be immediate deportation.
5) The agencies, specifically the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), is in complete disarray as regards its legally mandated requirement to report to Congress every year on how refugees are doing and where the millions of tax dollars are going that run the program. The last (and most recent) annual report to be sent to Congress is the 2008 report—so they are out of compliance for fiscal years 2009, 2010 and 2011. A moratorium is necessary in order for the ORR to bring its records entirely up-to-date. Additionally, there needs to be an adequate tracking system designed to gather required data—frankly some of the numbers reported for such measures of dependence on welfare as food stamp usage, cash assistance and employment status are nothing more than guesses. (The lack of reports for recent years signals either bureaucratic incompetence and disregard for the law, or, causes one to wonder if there is something ORR is hiding.)
6) The State Department and the ORR have so far failed to adequately determine and report (and track once the refugee has been admitted) the myriad communicable and costly-to-treat diseases entering the country with the refugee population.
7) Congress needs to specifically disallow the use of the refugee program for other purposes of the US Government,especially using certain refugee populations to address unrelated foreign policy objectives—Uzbeks, Kosovars, Meshketians and Bhutanese (Nepalese) people come to mind.
8) Congress needs to investigate and specifically disallow any connection between this program and big businesseslooking for cheap and captive labor. The federal government should not be acting as head-hunter for corporations.
9) The Volag system should be completely abolished and the program should be run by state agencies with accountability to the public through their state legislatures. The system as presently constituted is surely unconstitutional. (One of many benefits of turning the program over to a state agency is to break up the government/contractor revolving door that is being demonstrated now at both the State Department and ORR.) The participating state agency’s job would be to find groups, churches, or individuals who would sponsor a refugee family completely for at least a year and monitor those sponsors. Their job would include making sure refugees are assimilating. A mechanism should be established that would allow a refugee to go home if he or she is unhappy or simply can’t make it in America. Short of a complete halt to resettlement-by-contractor, taxpayers should be protected by legally requiring financial audits of contractors and subcontractors on an annual basis.
10) As part of #9, there needs to be established a process for alerting communities to the impending arrival of refugees that includes reports from the federal government (with local input) about the social and economic impact a certain new group of refugees will have on a city or town. This report would be presented to the public through public hearings and the local government would have an opportunity to say ‘no.’
For these reasons and more, the Refugee admissions program should be placed on hold and a serious effort made by Congress to either scrap the whole thing or reform it during the moratorium. My recommendation for 2013 is to stop the program now. The Office of the President could indeed ask for hearings to review the Refugee Resettlement Act of 1980-–three decades is time enough to see its failings and determine if reauthorization is feasible or whether a whole new law needs to be written.
Information on the three hearings we wrote about and attended are archived here, here and here. (Those files include posts in which we referenced the hearings/meetings as well.)
By the way, Richard revolved into the State Department from her contractor job at the International Rescue Committee. She had a previous stint at the State Dept. The revolving door is alive and well between contractor and federal agency involving refugee resettlement.