NPR's Deborah Amos: US refugee program unraveling

I just wish for once ‘journalists’ at Amos’s level would explain to her listeners some of the real facts about how the US Refugee Admissions Program operates, but maybe NPR listeners are only interested in horror stories about the President with headlines meant to alarm them in to action.
(More on that below)
But see how journalism professor Amos begins her report (hat tip: Margaret) with Donald Trump declaring that Obama’s Australia deal was dumb.  It was, and it is!

Deborah Amos
Deborah Amos, advocate for the existing UN/US Refugee Admissions Program, opinion writer at NPR and Journalism visiting lecturer at Princeton University.

Last year began with an angry phone call about refugees, famously leaked later. The newly inaugurated Donald Trump exploded when Australia’s prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, asked him to honor a U.S. pledge to resettle some 1,200 refugees from Australia’s offshore detention centers.

“This is a stupid deal,” Trump fumed to an astonished Turnbull. “This shows me to be a dope.”

A day earlier, the president had signed an executive order temporarily halting the entire U.S. refugee resettlement program and slashed the number of expected arrivals President Obama had set.

Trump complained that by honoring the deal with Australia he was “going to get killed” politically and abruptly hung up the phone.

It was the harbinger of policies set in motion to unravel the U.S. refugee resettlement program, an issue that defined Trump’s election campaign and has shaped much of his first year in office.

What the heck!

She then goes on and never reports that the President is going along with the deal (doesn’t she read RRW?).

But, you see, admitting that the President caved-in to pressure and is now going to admit up to 1,200 migrants that Australia doesn’t want, who have been in Australian-controlled detention for as long as four years, doesn’t fit the opinion piece she crafted and thus wouldn’t help stir up Leftwing anger.
She then quotes former Middle East ambassador Ryan Crocker (Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama), bemoaning the (financial!) losses the federal refugee contractors*** will experience going forward:

“This is strategic, that’s why it’s different from previous anti-immigrant mindsets. It is a conscious effort to deconstruct the system,” Crocker says. He points to dramatic budget cuts for the nine private, voluntary agencies that for decades have contracted with the State Department to resettle and integrate the refugee population in communities across the U.S.

“The damage has already been done. These agencies run on the slimmest of margins. The layoffs are already doing structural damage. It’s going to take a long time to rebuild,” he says.

At this point, a real journalist would explain just a bit about the “voluntary agencies” (Ha! Ha!) which are almost completely funded by the US taxpayer, and, as such, are quasi-government organizations.
It would only take a paragraph or two to explain their financial structure based on federal payments on a refugee per head basis (hey! maybe even throw in a few numbers about CEO salaries). She might explain how they operate in secrecy in hopes that the locals won’t catch on to plans for their communities (Rutland, VT for example!).
She might say they are community organizers holding anti-Trump rallies like the recent one in Washington with CAIR, or that they hired the Podesta Group (for $100,000) to lobby for them.
She could point out that they could have been raising private charitable dollars to tide them over (and help refugees!) through slow refugee admission times. Or, maybe she could report on refugees left in the lurch by the contractors, some wishing to return to camps in Africa. You get my drift!
Then she quotes me wanting to be sure her listeners know what an extremist I am (well ok!).  But, in many ways I’m more of an investigative journalist than she is!

“Donald Trump missed a fabulous opportunity to suspend the entire refugee admissions program,” activist Ann Corcoran complained to Breitbart News. Corcoran runs the Refugee Resettlement Watch website that regularly claims the resettlement program is corrupt and a health and security risk for communities that accept the newcomers. [Have I ever used the word corrupt?—ed]

Laughing my head off!  This is my complete statement quoted at Breitbart:

“Donald Trump missed a fabulous opportunity to suspend the entire refugee admissions program, at least on a temporary basis, until we get back on our feet in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico,” Ann Corcoran, who runs the Refugee Resettlement Watch website, tells Breitbart News.

And, Amos is training young journalists at Princeton!
Yes, the President has great power under the Refugee Act of 1980 and he could have suspended it outright.  His team obviously decided to “smother” it by cutting the numbers and consequently cutting the funding (your tax dollars) that feed the refugee contractors***.

becca-heller (1)
Immigration lawyer Becca Heller in Glamour magazine: “The fight against Trump….”

Here she gives Becca Heller with the International Refugee Assistance Project in New York a lot of column inches to say what we said yesterday that Congress will need to step in to make permanent changes to the law.

“We are in a pitched battle for the continued existence of the U.S. refugee resettlement program,” says Heller. “The numbers are going to be low for the next few years and it’s our job to keep them as high as we can.”


Heller says there are limits to the president’s powers to end the refugee resettlement program outright. Congress established the program’s framework and would need to vote to eliminate it.

“I think [the refugee program is] under attack but I don’t think it’s over. For one thing, it’s the law,” says Heller, pointing to the 1980 Refugee Act that sets out the provisions for the admission of refugees “of special humanitarian concern,” and the 1965 immigration law that emphasizes family reunification [aka chain migration—ed].

“The president may be able to temporarily prevent refugees from coming in,” Heller says. “It’s not going to successfully dismantle the program without Congress.”

Frelick says there is nothing in the law (Refugee Act of 1980) that says the US resettle a single refugee

Ms. Amos earlier in her piece, designed to paint the President in the worst light, while the refugee industry is pure as the driven snow, quoted a spokesperson for Human Rights First.  But, she could have just as well quoted Bill Frelick of Human Rights Watch who said this in November 2016 and I reported here. Take that Ms. Heller!

See what refugee advocate and longtime expert Bill Frelick (Human Rights Watchsaid in November after Trump was elected and the refugee industry went in to shell-shock:

“In the U.S., there’s not a quota that has to be filled. The U.S. has a budgeted amount of money to do refugee resettlement, but there’s no requirement that the U.S. resettle a single refugee, and there’s no legal obligation to do it.”

I suspect he wasn’t too popular with his peers/media after that statement. I rarely see him quoted now.
More promotion of the existing/flawed refugee program and criticism of the President from Ms. Amos here.
***These are the “voluntary agencies” responsible for all refugee resettlement in the US.  I rarely use the phrase voluntary agencies (VOLAGs) because it makes me laugh.  When one thinks of voluntary agencies, one thinks of non-governmental organizations working hard to raise private money and using volunteer workers to carry out their humanitarian good works, not agencies funded with MILLIONS of taxpayer dollars (involuntarily taken from you) and CEOs making $200,000, $300,000 and $600,000 annual salaries!

This post is tagged ‘media bias.’