Update October 16th: Today I used Lancaster as my example of what you should be doing as a first step locally if you are unhappy with the secrecy surrounding the refugee program where you live. Click here to see what you need to do! Hold your mayor’s feet to the fire!
We are told that by the big German publication, Deutsche Welle which claims Lancaster is “dubbed America’s refugee capital.”
It is probably written to make Germans concerned about the migrant invasion of their homeland feel bad by encouraging them to think everything is sweetness and light in America (well, except for Trump!).
It is the same old story line….
Refugees supposedly contributing to economy
Kind-hearted ‘Christian’ resettlement agency
Worries that the flow is slowing
Evil Donald Trump
But, I am posting it as background for my next post (either later today or tomorrow).
As the US isolates itself under President Donald Trump, one rural town in Pennsylvania keeps rooting for refugees. The Amish and Mennonite communities of Lancaster County say “refugees welcome.”
Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray explains that welcoming refugees by supporting religious freedom and tolerance “is in [Lancaster’s] genes.”
Stephanie Gromek, who works for Church World Service***, one of nine refugee resettlement agencies in the US, says that in the past year alone, the organization has resettled almost 700 refugees here. The Amish “worked so hard to keep their culture, and that’s what we hope for with our refugees,” she says. [Islamic ‘culture’ too?—-ed]
Gromek deals with cases from around the world in her work and says that in recent times there has been an influx of people from Syria, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
But changes in US policy doesn’t bode well for the countryside community. President Trump’s push to put limits on the number of refugees admitted into the US will likely leave its mark on Lancaster, says Jonathan Charles. [Charles is just some local guy they quoted. Bet you could find a local guy with the complete opposite view—ed]
“This current president is not a person we are very fond of. We haven’t had any new arrivals since [Trump] became president. And it will take a few years to see how much it impacts us. But I’m sure that it will.”
Fewer than half as many refugee resettlements are expected this year as compared to last year, says Stephanie Gromek. Still, she remains optimistic: “If we don’t get any refugee arrivals, our organization doesn’t get funding. However, the reasons for what the administration is trying to do are not holding. There’s no weight, no justification for what Trump is trying to do.”
Mayor Gray, however, is worried there might be more at stake and is paying attention to what the migrant community has to say about the political developments in the US. “Some refugees I spoke to are now afraid of what’s going on a national level. They say they’ve seen this kind of thing happening before in their own countries.
“I really hope they’re wrong.”
See my archive on Lancaster. There are a lot of posts there. Don’t miss the one where I attended an Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) meeting in Lancaster a few years ago and first learned that the feds were referring to communities (where citizens were asking questions) as ‘Pockets of Resistance.’ They reported happily that Lancaster and PA generally had no such resisters.
*** Church World Service is the federal government contractor whose subcontractor, Virginia Council of Churches, sent the first refugees to the county where I live in Maryland beginning in about 2006. We were told we were getting spillover from Lancaster of Meskhetian Turks (Sunni Muslims) because there had been some problem in Lancaster. (We never learned what that was, but we heard that from our sheriff at the time.)
You can learn more about CWS’s finances here.
They are 71% funded by the US taxpayer. So much for Christian charity!