“We in Bloomington and groups all throughout the United States are waiting for the new budget to come out. Like a lot of vulnerable populations, we will have to see how much funding will be allocated.”
(Refugee promoter Diane Legomsky)
This is the first in what I expect to be many reports from controversial potential refugee resettlement sites that the Obama State Department was attempting to get open quickly. Why? Because actions by Congress to limit funding in the appropriations process are causing the DOS and the ORR to start pulling in the reins on new sites.
Elections have consequences and the US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) may be changed beginning January 21, 2017 (the day after inauguration day).
We expect the present political appointees, Anne Richard at the Dept. of State and Bob Carey at the Office of Refugee Resettlement (HHS) to be job hunting soon if they aren’t already. Indeed, they could go back (revolving door!) to the ‘non-profit’ resettlement contractor they both came from—the International Rescue Committee.
Showing once again the impact that federal funding (or the lack of it!) has on local resettlement offices, the announcement that the planned program is now on hold for Bloomington, IN was reported yesterday at the Herald Times (emphasis is mine):
The effort to resettle refugees in Bloomington has been put on hold as local and national aid organizations await details of the incoming presidential administration’s 2017 budget plans.
The announcement came Saturday from Bloomington Refugee Support Network chairwoman Diane Legomsky, who said while the organization is no longer expecting refugees to arrive this spring, she is confident this is just a delay of the inevitable.
“We in Bloomington and groups all throughout the United States are waiting for the new budget to come out. Like a lot of vulnerable populations, we will have to see how much funding will be allocated. However, this is not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when.’” Legomsky said. “We certainly anticipate that resettlement will be happening here; it just might be in late 2017 or in 2018.”
The State Department has been clear that it considers Bloomington an ideal resettlement city: In addition to being extremely welcoming, it is an exceptionally well-resourced city, able to resettle and give support to refugees in a very cost-effective way. Any budgeting decisions about resettlement are based on national, rather than state or local, considerations, Legomsky said.
Local efforts to welcome refugees to Bloomington have sparked opposition from the Grassroots Conservative political group, which has raised concerns at public forums about safety and potential cost to host communities.
Earlier this month, Congress passed a continuing spending resolution to fund the federal government through April 28, providing an opportunity for the new administration to put its imprint on the 2017 budget. [Will Trump severely restrict federal funding in the second half of FY2017?—ed]
President-elect Donald Trump was critical of the Syrian resettlement program, in particular, during his recent presidential campaign, and he called for suspension of immigration from areas of the world that have a history of exporting terrorism until “extreme vetting” measures could be put in place.
The law is very clear on this last point, the President of the United States can stop immigration from any region of the world he wishes.
More here (but warning this requires a paid subscription).
One commenter said that local millionaire developers (who have empty apartments) will be disappointed! Remember refugee resettlement is big business! Federal dollars (your money) grease the skids.
Look for more from me going forward about the federal Budget and Appropriations process in the new year.