It is an unnecessarily long article written by Politico reporter Meredith Hoffman. You can read the whole thing. But, I do want to make a point or two before I move on to other things (like Leo Hohmann’s latest on his trip to South Dakota).
The article begins as usual with a sympathetic case (star of the story) of an African woman who got in to the US and is now separated (because of Trump) from the children she left behind.
It goes in to the usual stuff we have been hearing about—the ban, Trump’s low refugee ceiling, the refugees trickling in, the ‘hardship’ the contractors are facing, but it mentions an issue I found most interesting.
The Trump Administration has shifted a focus away from sending USCIS officers abroad to interview prospective refugees and sent them instead to the border and elsewhere in the US to process the huge backlog in US asylum claims that piled up as Obama shifted these officers abroad.
Asylum a huge and growing problem!
Readers, the asylum issue is huge and will become an even greater challenge if this horrifying story at The New Republic (hat tip: Judy) is any indication…..
….many thousands of migrants who can’t get in to an increasingly unwelcome Europe are headed to South America with the goal of reaching our southern border.
These are all clever people who know that if they are caught at the border, they will ask for political asylum (there will be an immigration lawyer waiting for them) and will spend years here as that process slogs along.
Now to Politico and the usual whinefest. This is only a small bit of the story.
I see that Barbara Strack, after ‘retiring,’ has begun talking to the media. (Emphasis is mine, along with paragraph breaks for easier reading.)
….workers’ [the usual cabal] impression of engineered chaos comes as the State Department is already using low numbers of refugees to justify the closure of dozens of offices of resettlement agencies, which are private nonprofits that contract with the federal government***. The resettlement agencies and employees still standing are left with the question of how to do their jobs under an administration that at best is making resettlement a very low priority.
In a year in which the president simply banned whole groups of refugees from entering the United States, it’s far from unexpected that arrivals would be below those of previous administrations. But Trump’s high-profile executive orders halting refugee admissions last year are just part of the resettlement program’s disruptions.
More than a year after the original ban, resettlement workers paint a picture of chaos and confusion, and a field that has been upended by dramatic, sometimes seemingly arbitrary, changes. “If the refugee resettlement program were an assembly line in a factory, it works efficiently because every station knows what to do and how to do the handoff,” said Barbara Strack, who was chief of the Refugee Affairs Division at the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the Department of Homeland Security until retiring three weeks ago. “What the administration has done this year is break that assembly line in multiple places at the same time.”
Trump is prioritizing asylum processing and that makes them all pretty angry, but should please those (like you and me!) who don’t want to see asylum seekers allowed to roam free until their cases are heard.
It’s not just the bureaucratic re-routing that is holding up the process. Another dramatic impetus for the drop in refugee arrivals is that USCIS is assigning about half of its Refugee Affairs Division officers to the border and to asylum offices in the U.S. interior instead of abroad, Strack said, which has a dramatic effect on USCIS’ capacity to do refugee interviews.
Under past administrations the reverse has been true: Asylum officers were occasionally sent abroad to help screen refugees, especially under the Obama administration, which ordered as many asylum officers as necessary to help screen enough refugees to reach the ceiling, she said. (The Obama administration came just shy of its 85,000 ceiling in fiscal year 2016, with 84,994 refugees.)
Readers might remember that Obama was hellbent to get as many Syrians in to the US as possible during his last year in office and hired many more officers to get them processed.
With only half the resettlement officers working abroad as usual, the Department of Homeland Security has had to cut back drastically on trips for employees to screen refugees in those countries, known as circuit rides.
DHS cut its circuit rides to fewer than five locations abroad in the first quarter of this fiscal year, which began in October, resettlement sources said. That’s less than one-third the usual amount in that same time period in previous administration.
The rides were also shorter, staffed with fewer officers and included none to the Middle East, multiple resettlement sources confirmed. And while DHS has added more locations to its second quarter, the rides will remain much shorter than their usual six-to-eight-week duration, and still include no Middle East locations.
Then this! Trump: A ceiling is a ceiling, it is not a goal!
As we have said ad nausea, the Refugee Act of 1980 describes a ceiling chosen by the President in advance of the fiscal year. A ceiling is a cap, not a goal to be achieved. The refugee industry has for decades attempted to make it a goal to be reached!
…..the people I spoke to in the resettlement world all agreed on one thing: The Trump administration is more than happy to stay far below that 45,000-refugee ceiling. “Past administrations have looked at the ceiling [wrongly—ed] as a goal,” said Strack, who served in the federal government 26 years and in refugee resettlement the past 12. “That’s not the case for this administration.”
So to conclude… They can call it “engineered chaos”, but I see what the Trump Administration is doing is pretty clear.
Why process more people abroad when wannabe ‘refugees’ are piling up at the US border, or are already here and have never been screened?
Sounds like there is a clear goal here to keep us safe and create order out of the chaos Obama left us with!
***These are the private contractors that are paid by the head to place refugees in your towns and cities. Come on Politico why can’t you tell your readers how many millions they are paid annually to do their ‘charitable good works!’
The number in parenthesis is the percentage of their income paid by you (the taxpayer) to place the refugees and get them signed up for their services (aka welfare)! From most recent accounting, here.
- Church World Service (CWS) (71%)
- Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC) (secular)(93%)
- Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM) (99.5%)
- Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) (57%)
- International Rescue Committee (IRC) (secular) (66.5%)
- US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) (secular) (98%)
- Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS) (97%)
- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) (97%)
- World Relief Corporation (WR) (72.8%)