Editor: This is one in our series of guest posts we publish from time to time. This one comes to us from a reader and reminds us of what you as grassroots activists can do (in the comfort of your homes!) to ferret-out information about the secretive refugee admissions program. It might take you awhile since the US State Department is notoriously slow (if they respond at all) to Freedom of Information Act requests, but it is well worth the time and effort, as you will see.
Indeed, reports like those discussed below were not given to Judicial Watch in a timely manner last year and JW has since sued the State Department to obtain them.
We mentioned these planning documents in our previous post when a Colorado County Commissioner said they were never given any notice about refugee arrivals. The contractors know in advance and are keeping that information from local elected officials.
When the bill that became the Refugee Act of 1980 made its way through Congress, members were told that this was not a program to import more poverty to America, but when you read this post you will see that is exactly what is happening.
You can be sure that what we learn below is happening wherever refugees are resettled in 48 states!
Refugee Resettlement in their own words
Typical of the refugee resettlement industrialists, they say one thing to the public and another among themselves.
Looking through a stack of annual resettlement plans written by the local resettlement agencies and sent, in advance of the federal fiscal year, to Washington it’s understandable why these proposals are aggressively hidden from public scrutiny. One VOLAG even circulated an internal memo telling the local offices to refuse any public request for these plans. [This is something we learned about previously—ed]
Imagine if the public knew what the federal contractors really have planned for the host communities.
Arguably, these non-governmental organizations are shielded in many instances, from state open records laws, even though the organizations are predominantly funded with public dollars. But, the proposals can be obtained using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) once the documents are in the possession of the U.S. State Department.
A 2014 FOIA submission was finally answered in December 2015. It produced the annual proposed resettlement plans for all the resettlement agencies operating in Tennessee for FY2009 through FY2013.
The documents also suggest that once a state withdraws from the federal program and ORR appoints its own replacement, the federally contracted State Refugee Coordinator who typically works for one of the NGO resettlement agencies, gets a say in approving the number of refugees that will be brought to a state.
Below are excerpts from some of the resettlement plans:
Episcopal Migration Ministries (doing business as Bridge Refugee Services)
- “The agency’s partnerships with Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise and Chattanooga Housing Authority ensure that approximately 50% of clients are resettled into subsidized housing at a rental rate of $50 per month.”
- “Two of the complexes are public housing units operated by Knoxville Community Development Corporation, which feature spacious units, on-site property management and very affordable monthly rents.”
- “The Bridge sub-office coordinator regularly participates in Chamber of Commerce meetings to learn about new employers or hiring opportunities.
- “Refugee household income after the R&P [Reception & Placement] period usually includes MG [federal Match Grant] assistance, RCA [federal refugee cash assistance], TANF [state cash welfare], food stamps, SSI and additional programs as needed.”
- “The Nashville area offers numerous services through other non-profit organizations to refugees with critical and emergency needs. Refugees can visit the Nashville Rescue Mission for shelter [a homeless organization], food and safety, as well as Room in the Inn [a homeless organization] which provides working men with a hot meal and a place to sleep during the winter months. There are several shelters for abused women in the area where refugee women and children can find safety if necessary. Rooftop Ministries provides one-time assistance with rent payments: Wherry Housing Complex in Rutherford County houses refugees and others recovering from alcohol and substance abuse and has a Community Servants program to meet refugee needs.”
[So, the federal contractor gets paid to bring the refugees to Tennessee and then refers them to homeless, substance abuse and domestic violence shelters!]
Church World Service
- “Several strong partnerships exist between Bridge and employers and they often come to Bridge first when hiring.”
- “Employers in Knoxville are beginning to feel the effect of the economic downturn but are committed to hiring refugees.”
ECDC (doing business as the Nashville International Center for Empowerment)
- “NICE has relationships with local businesses that hire refugees, and since NICE is 60% operated by former refugees who have work relationships with local businesses, and lucrative partnerships are easily established and maintained.”
- “Refugees also qualify for and can access subsidized public housing.”
- “In Nashville there are many social service agencies to which NICE refers refugees for services including rent utility and food.”
USCCB (doing business as Catholic Charities of Tennessee)
- “Memphis’ outmigration for FY07 was reported at 43% but nearly all of these clients (21 people) were a part of Somali cases. These cases relocated to Minnesota which has a larger ethnic community, ….and more welfare state subsidized housing.”
- “The DHS worker responsible for enrolling refugees for food stamps and TennCare [Medicaid] health coverage meets with our Self-Sufficiency Coordinator every Tuesday morning and routinely discusses the number of arrivals we are expecting.”
- “On June 14, 2010 CC [Catholic Charities] and the SRC discussed the agency’s resettlement program and approved that we can resettle 240 refugees in FY2011…”
[So does this mean that State Refugee Coordinators can also “not approve” proposed resettlement numbers? Maybe Texas and other non-Wilson Fish states ought to try that route!]
- “Our relationships with employers are extremely strong and we now find ourselves in the position of being called upon when they have openings, rather than us having to seek them out.”
“The Sheriff’s Department provides inmates and a truck to assist us in moving furniture and setting up apartments twice per week.”
If you would like to get started on your own Freedom of Information Act requests, here are some sample letters. If you are looking for the planning documents discussed above, be sure to ask for those for FY2016 (in addition to previous years) and you might ask for all planning documents “including but not limited to the R & P Abstracts” for ____state.
This is a hot issue in Tennessee at the moment as the State Senate has passed a resolution to initiate a States’ Rights lawsuit in an effort to halt the resettlement program in Tennessee, see most recent post here.
See this post and others like it in our category entitled ‘Comments worth noting/guest posts.’