You are going to get so sick of hearing this from me!
Reader Paul reminded me again of this quote by David Gergen reported in the NY Times in 1993, here.
I’m taking my cue from Richard Nixon!
What Nixon advised is likely the single most important thing that you can do to bring attention and possible change to the refugee resettlement industry where you live (or to any issue that concerns you!).
Gergen said of Nixon:
He learned the importance of saying the same thing, over and over and over: “Nixon taught us about the art of repetition. He used to tell me, ‘About the time you are writing a line that you have written it so often that you want to throw up, that is the first time the American people will hear it.’ ”
The more I think about this, the more I realize what masters the Left are at this: “Diversity is beautiful,” “America is a nation of immigrants,” “Refugees undergo ‘robust’ screening,” yada, yada, yada.
(LOL! btw, try to work that word ‘robust’ into anything you do. I want to barf whenever I hear it from the Left, so let’s have some fun with it!)
We don’t repeat things enough! Why is that? We tend to think our people are smart enough and will get it the first time? We aren’t willing to get to the barf stage?
Anyway, back to my headline….
For a few months, I had high hopes that we were going to see some significant demands for reform of UN/US Refugee Admissions Program in Washington. Dropping the ceiling to 45,000 for this fiscal year is not significant. If no reform of the general structure of the program happens, as soon as Trump is no longer Prez they will just boost the number to make up for lost time.
As I have already said, our energy must now shift back to grassroots activism on the local and state level. And, first, don’t worry that you haven’t hundreds of people behind you, just get to work yourself (with maybe a friend or two, for help and support).
Let’s use Lancaster, PA which I wrote about yesterday as a model for a step-by-step action plan.
First, go here and find your State Refugee Coordinator. The list is a little old but through these contact numbers you should find your state’s key people. (This link and many others are at my Frequently Asked Questions, here.)
Ask the coordinator politely for your State’s refugee plan (usually not of great interest because it’s likely written in a mealy-mouth format, but get it). Tell the coordinator where you live and ask to be included in (put on the list for notification of) the “QUARTERLY CONSULTATIONS.”
Obviously for our Lancaster model, find the coordinator for Pennsylvania (often these are employees of the State government).
Next, find out, which resettlement contractors/subcontractors work where you live. Find any office here that is within 100 miles (generally 2 hours drive time) from where you live. Refugees can be placed within that distance from the office. If you live on a state border, be sure to check the neighboring state.
For Lancaster, there are two contractors listed (one for Church World Service the other two for Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service). You might find numbers and addresses have changed because the feds are pretty lousy at keeping this up to date.
For folks in Lancaster, call all three subcontractor offices and politely ask for R & P (Reception & Placement) Abstracts for FY16, FY17 and the new one for FY18. These are plans for your town. Of course the FY18 plan is most interesting, ask for three years for comparison.
And, so you understand, if you get one abstract from one contractor that will only be information on their batch of refugees. They ‘bid for bodies’ so in order to fully understand what the total number is for your town, you must add the abstract projected numbers together. There might be 4 or 5 contractors operating in the same city!
You will likely be told NO, you can’t have them. By the way, on FY18, until a couple of weeks ago, they might have said you can’t have that one because it is a document not yet approved by the State Department. But since the fiscal year began on October 1, that excuse is no longer valid. (See what the Abstract looks like here).
If you get a NO at the contractor’s office, go back to your state coordinator and ask him/her for those important documents. Be sure to say you want the entire document which includes more than just the pages with numbers and spells out the amenities your town is offering refugees.
At this point if you are still getting a runaround, you may have to use your state’s public information law to attempt to get them.
Put your mayor and council on the spot!
However, while waiting for that to work through the system, ask your Mayor and Council for the R & P Abstracts. Either your local elected officials will say they don’t have such documents, or they will say you can’t have them.
For Lancaster, contact “welcoming” Mayor Gray!
Now you have some excellent political ammunition if they don’t give you the R & P Abstract.
Either the mayor/council is completely unaware that a document like this exists or they keep it from you on purpose, and either way they are politically in a hot seat!
They are either so incompetent they didn’t know that a federal contractor was sending plans for their (your) town to Washington, or they did know and kept it from the citizens (aka voters). Lack of transparency/secrecy are words that you can use against them (until you want to barf!).
Next! Contact your Representative in the US Congress. It looks like for most of Lancaster that is Rep. Lloyd Smucker.
You are going to report to his staff (try his local office first) that you are getting a runaround and can’t get the R & P Abstracts for Lancaster and ask his staff to get them for you.
Again, this is an important exercise, not so much that the documents contain bombshells (although most I’ve seen are very interesting), but it will tell you something about the man representing you in Congress. If he can’t get the documents (and get you invited to quarterly consultations), he is weak, or he is lying.
You will do the same exercise with the US Senate offices of Pat Toomey an Bob Casey.
For additional fun contact your governor’s office too. See if the governor’s office is being kept informed by the state coordinator (who may actually be employed by the governor’s office).
Presumably you now have the documents and are on the list to be invited to the next QUARTERLY CONSULTATION (aka Stakeholder meeting). Look for another post from me on what to do next involving publicizing what you have learned and pushing for the Abstract to be made public BEFORE it goes to Washington next year!
If no transparency….
If you are still getting a runaround, you have some perfect ammunition to use in the next mayor/city council election (and in 2018 for your member of Congress!). They are all keeping you, taxpaying citizens of refugee resettlement towns and cities, in the dark about plans from Washington about your very neighborhoods!
Say that over and over and over again until you want to throw up!
This post is filed in my ‘What you can do’ category, here.