I guess you would have to call Anne Richard a “grass top” as she explains what the refugee industry “grassroots” are doing these days.
Longtime readers know that Anne Richard (originally a Vice President at the International Rescue Committee (IRC), one of the nine federal contractors*** that monopolize all refugee resettlement in America), was Barack Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for Population Refugees and Migration. (Trump, btw, never chose anyone to fill that spot).
For inquisitive readers, we have an extensive Anne Richard archive, here.
Yesterday she penned an informative piece at Georgetown University’s Berkeley Center where she describes how she is energized by all of her gal pals working to advance refugee resettlement in US towns and cities.
By the way, since Richard references the women leaders in her piece, I wondered where are all the men in her industry who are making the big bucks as CEOs of the ‘non-profit’ contractors? Weren’t they at the confab she describes?
Refugee Experts Express Hope for Refugee Resettlement in America
As the moderator of a panel on “The Future of U.S. Refugee Resettlement Policy” at the “Current Challenges in Refugee Policy” conference, I asked a stellar lineup of experts the sad question:
Is there a future for Refugee Resettlement in America?
They and I knew that the number of refugees being resettled in this country has dropped drastically under the Trump administration.
Jen Smyers, director of policy and advocacy for the immigration and refugee program with Church World Service, pointed out that 18,000 is an historic low point for the program and pronounced the Trump policy “shameful,” noting: “this is being done in the worst displacement crisis that the world has ever seen….There are more than 70 million people who are displaced across the globe, including more than 25 million refugees.” [And, so why is this our problem?—ed]
Jenny Yang, vice president of advocacy and policy at World Relief, reported, “Last month in October it was the first month in over 30 years that we didn’t receive a single refugee, which is a startling statistic.”
All of us recognized that deep cuts in the numbers of refugees would translate into resettlement offices being forced to shut down across America. These closures would mean letting staff go, reducing services to refugees already here, cutting long-term relationships with schools, employers and landlords—and would be exceedingly hard to reverse.
I figured the panelists were, like me, utterly demoralized. So, I was taken aback when each panelist in turn talked about the energy now being devoted to defending the program and fighting back against efforts to kill it.
Smyers mentioned a three-pronged approach, based on (1) rebuilding bipartisan support in Congress, (2) organizing at the local level so that refugees can share their stories with Congressional district offices, and state and local officials, and (3) escalating tactics, such as a recent protest and coordinated act of civil disobedience at the U.S. Capitol, which included the arrests of 18 leaders including Amnesty International USA Executive Director Margaret Huang and yours truly.
Jen mentioned the Bipartisan Congressional Refugee Caucus in the House of Representatives and multiple letters signed by both Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Senate as evidence that the White House did not speak for all elected officials. [I’ll have a follow-up post on the Congressional Refugee Caucus—ed]
Jenny Yang explained the work World Relief is doing with evangelical churches in many communities across the United States. Over 1,400 local volunteers that have signed up as Good Neighbor Teams that are “walking alongside” these refugees that are coming in, and helping them transition into their communities. In 2017, more than 9,000 evangelical pastors signed on to a World Relief petition supporting refugees. World Relief later issued a letter showing evangelicals in every state in the country support refugees and immigrants.
Nazanin Ash, vice president for public policy and advocacy at the International Rescue Committee and a visiting policy fellow at the Center for Global Development, shared how over 100 pieces of anti-refugee state legislation have been defeated.
I have no idea what she is talking about — where were 100 pieces of anti-refugee state bills defeated?
Ash went on to describe growing numbers of advocates. “Alongside traditional community organizations and faith groups…,” she said, “what’s been wonderful to see are strong and emerging partnerships with business, strong and emerging partnerships with the national security sector.
Because big global corporations are on the hunt for cheap labor, your community will be changed forever! Likewise, since some of our military leadership is demanding we hand out more tickets to America to Afghans, Iraqis and soon Syrians, we are expected to stay silent as our rural towns and small cities are transformed (big cities are gone already!).
These new sectors that…declare their support and talk about how the refugee admissions program benefits business, makes America stronger, promotes our values, and serves our humanitarian leadership goals, and our strategic interests. She went on to describe a network across the country in red, blue, and purple states which is now approaching 250,000 people.
The states where she sees the largest constituencies of advocates include Texas, Florida, Arizona, and Idaho.
“I really do have a lot of hope,” said Ash, “and that’s in no small part due to the panel I’m sharing here with this group of really extraordinary women, and their really extraordinary organizations and communities and constituencies that they represent, and the way in which this community has come together and has joined forces with broader advocacy groups, human rights, immigration, business, military, a growing constituency of grass tops [WTH?—ed] and grassroots, who have been given the opportunity in this oppositional environment to plant their flag for refugees and for humanitarian leadership, and they really are.”
And, of course, they hide their desire to change America by changing the people behind their supposed humanitarian do-gooderism and do it with your tax dollars!
***For new readers these (below) are the nine federally-funded refugee contractors that monopolize all refugee placement in America. For decades they have decided in secrecy where to place refugees and they don’t want to lose that power because even as they pontificate about their religious convictions and humanitarian zeal, they are Leftwing political groups working to change America by changing the people and using your money to do it!
- Church World Service (CWS)
- Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC) (secular)
- Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM)
- Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)
- International Rescue Committee (IRC) (secular)
- US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) (secular)
- Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS)
- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)
- World Relief Corporation (WR)