Longtime Federal Bureaucrat who Created Refugee Program Swipes at Trump

Well, I should say he is claiming credit for creating the present-day US Refugee Admissions Program in 1979.

Editor:  By the way, I’ve been away at a conference to talk about how RRW was “deplatformed” by WordPressdotcom and am now back at my computer with news about why the US Refugee Admissions Program Mr. Purcell says he created must be dumped (and reformed if there is a will for some sort of program). 

I know this might be getting too wonky, but it’s important to know how the program began and how it has gone wrong (or was wrong all along!)—something the speech police have been trying to stop me from telling you!

James N. Purcell, in an opinion piece in the Dallas News, says the refugee program was designed to leave out local and state government approval of refugee placement claiming it was “fairer” to leave them out of what he says is a federal decision.

I set up the U.S. refugee resettlement program that Trump is attacking

At a campaign rally last week in Minneapolis, the president trumpeted a recently issued executive order that would prohibit refugee resettlements unless states and cities expressly consented to them. He went on to say, “no other president would be doing that.”



There is a better way for state and local officials to make their views known that’s worked in the past.

This issue was a concern when I set up the U.S. refugee resettlement program in 1980 under President Jimmy Carter and when I was later named the official director of the program by President Ronald Reagan. We went out of our way to avoid the Damocles sword that President Donald Trump is now swinging.

Rather than force national decisions on state and local governments (which they were unable to make and has the effect of politicizing these decisions), we came up with a fairer and more humane approach that respected their unique roles. [So whatever happened to the Tenth Amendment?—ed]

The Refugee Act of 1980 recognized the essential contributions expected of state and local governments and made achievement of them possible.

What is he talking about!  Were the “essential contributions expected” of the state and local governments the enormous costs associated with welfare, education, health care, housing and so forth—costs now borne by state and local taxpayers with little financial help from Washington?

And, get this, the role of state coordinator was created to help identify and resolve problems.  How many of you reading this even knew you had state coordinators***?


The act required the federal government to coordinate and consult regularly with state refugee coordinators about proposed resettlements. Many potential problems were identified and resolved through monitoring and oversight, and record resettlement was achieved without serious incidents.

Now, without apparently knowing what he has revealed he tells us how the NGOs (the federally-funded refugee contractors, Leftwing phony ‘religious’ groups) really run the show he claims they tried not to “politicize.”

Perhaps that was why I was so perplexed in 1986 to receive a scathing letter from one of Minnesota’s leading politicians demanding that I cease resettlement of Hmong in Minnesota forthwith. This demand was so out of character for Minnesota that I immediately informed NGOs working on Hmong resettlement. By the end of the next week, Minnesotans were so outraged that I received letters reversing earlier criticisms and asking for more Hmong refugees.

Unbelievable!  He was the US State Department’s director of the Refugee Admissions Program and he tipped off his contractors that an elected official in Minnesota was having a problem with the refugee program and they in turn ginned-up letters from their flocks (Catholics and Lutherans mostly) to send him asking for more Hmong refugees.  (This was of course a few years before the major influx of Somalis to Minnesota began.)

So why wasn’t this all handled as he said they designed the program, through the State Refugee Coordinator?  Why? Because the program is run by the contractors who are paid out of the US Treasury to place refugees wherever they choose!  (See my recent post with a list of the present-day contractors, here.)

There will be no real reform of the US Refugee Program as long as the contractors are paid by us while acting as Leftwing political agitation groups.

*** Go here to see who your state refugee coordinator is.  If you know anything about the program in your state you will notice that many of them are affiliated with a federal contractor.

Got a problem in your state, or just want to know more about the program there?  Call your coordinator.  You can start by asking for your state’s most recent Refugee Plan on file with the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement.  Be polite and you will get some information (maybe not much!) but something.

Don’t miss my post on the major drug bust of Hmong in Wisconsin recently.