Posted: 24 Apr 2018 12:08 PM PDT
“I saw first-hand the flagrant abuses and scams that permeate the refugee program.”
(Mary Doetsch, retired Foreign Service Officer)
Mary Doetsch is a retired US State Department Foreign Service officer who spent eight years (of a 25-year career) as a Refugee Coordinator serving on four continents.
As someone who has worked on the inside, her op-ed at the Washington Examiner today carries more weight than anything I could ever write as an outsider looking in!
US refugee program needs a complete overhaul
Ms. Doetsch opines (emphasis is mine):
During my career in the State Department, I became a refugee coordinator in the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, or USRAP, because I wanted to help and support persecuted persons in legitimate need of international protection. But the pervasive fraud I saw during my eight years in the field was alarming.
It cries out for a fix, and President Trump might just be the person to do it.
Undoubtedly, many individuals who work within the refugee field have humanitarian aims. But refugee resettlement has morphed into a numbers-driven, financially motivated business, growing blindly at the expense of the American public and our national security.
There once was a time when private charities, civic groups and faith-based organizations provided the bulk of funds and volunteers to resettle and help assimilate refugees in the United States. Today's deeply flawed system relies almost exclusively on nine federal contractors (paradoxically referred to as "Voluntary Agencies" or VOLAGS) to resettle refugees.
The contractors have a vested interest in processing ever-larger numbers of applicants, since they make money on every refugee settled. And as non-governmental organizations they can and do lobby for advantageous changes to law, something they could not do if they were government agencies. Their lobbying umbrella wields enormous influence over refugee admissions policy, pressuring Congress and the bureaucracy to increase admissions and provide ever greater funding. They stage political rallies, file lawsuits against unfavorable policies, and lobby for causes that coincidentally help their bottom lines, yet this linkage is rarely, if ever, mentioned.
This isn’t just important from the oft-discussed security perspective, but also because of the rampant fraud and abuse that has permeated this program for generations.
As a former Refugee Coordinator who served throughout the Middle East, Africa, Russia and Cuba, I saw first-hand the flagrant abuses and scams that permeate the refugee program. I witnessed widespread exploitation and misuse, from identity fraud to marriage and family relation scams, and from private individuals profiting from their involvement in USRAP to distortion of the actual refugee definition to ensure greater numbers of people who should really just be migrants are admitted as refugees.
While refugee admissions have been declining under the Trump administration, without structural reform in the USRAP these numbers could again skyrocket under a new administration more favorable to the refugee industry.
Midway into fiscal year 2018, fewer than a quarter of the 45,000 individuals proposed in the FY18 refugee ceiling have entered the country. This slow-down in admissions may reduce the problem of fraud, but it cannot be eliminated without a complete overhaul of the program.
I’ve only snipped a portion of Doetsch’s op-ed, click here to read it all.
What you can do….
Contact the White House and tell the President it is now or never to overhaul the US Refugee Admissions Program, or once out of office the program will go back in to high gear. Reducing numbers for a few years is not enough!
Posted: 24 Apr 2018 04:30 AM PDT
It is that time of year when homeowners and hobby gardeners are out with high hopes for their small crops of spinach, beans and tomatoes.
It is also the time of the year we can expect warm and fuzzy stories about how refugees are gardening with the help of their federal resettlement contractors and your tax dollars!
This story from Baltimore reminded me that I haven’t mentioned this additional source of payola for refugee contractors—-Refugee Agricultural Partnership grants—lately.
In addition to the per head refugee payment the contractors receive to place refugees, there are myriad grant programs available for the nine contractors and their subcontractors to keep their coffers full.
The Office of Refugee Resettlement actually gives out hundreds of thousands of dollars (about $1.5 million in the latest allotment) to the contractors (the VOLAGs) to help refugees plant gardens.
In Baltimore we learn that gardens run by the International Rescue Committee connect refugees to the earth, their cultures and their neighbors (or so we are told).
Keep reading to learn exactly how much this all costs you, and who is raking in the big bucks!
Here is the ‘news’ at something called Resilience:
One of the first points of contact for refugees entering the U.S. is often the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a nonprofit that resettles nearly 10,000 refugee cases annually [this year they aren’t placing 10,000-ed] and helps them with everything from navigating new kitchen appliances to finding jobs and learning English. This work gives refugees a good start, but from there, they still face perhaps one of the most difficult parts of the process: becoming a part of their new community.
The IRC began its New Roots program about 10 years ago in the hopes of using agriculture and community gardening to support refugees in rebuilding their lives and livelihoods.
The program works in shared gardens in cities across the United States, giving refugees the opportunity to strengthen existing skills in gardening, to preserve their culinary identity by growing culturally relevant foods, and, in some cases, to participate in farmers markets.
One participating city was Baltimore, where the IRC started up a small network of shared refugee-focused gardens by working with local churches and the Goodnow Community Center. The gardens, in churchyards and on the lawns surrounding active community hubs, quickly became busy with refugees looking to connect with nature, grow their own crops, and plug into the local food system.
But the spaces soon transcended these uses — in addition to the crops the refugees were planting, Baltimore's gardens began to nurture a sense of social cohesion among residents.
Reading between the lines at Resilience gives us a hint that something wasn’t going smoothly, but that isn’t my purpose in writing this post. We are never going to be told about the failures and waste of money.
I want readers to know (because ‘Resilience’ won’t say it) that they are very expensive veggies these refugees are growing, and contractors, like the IRC, manage the hundreds of thousands of federal dollars to grow some culturally relevant food!
Read about the IRC’s Growing New Roots where we learn that….
“…. refugees are able to reconnect with their agrarian roots. By participating in community gardening, they have a safe space to hone their agricultural skills, grow their own food and engage with the local community.”
Office of Refugee Resettlement doles out big bucks
Imagine what kind of gardening you could do with this kind of money!
And, it looks like the IRC (“Moneybags” Miliband) has a corner on this grant program! IRC gobbled up 4 of the available grants that expire next year.
Sure hope the Trump people are advising the contractors that refugee gardening is a sweet idea to be carried out by PRIVATE CHARITY!
See past posts on refugee gardening on your dime!
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