Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Refugee Resettlement: The High Cost of Good Intentions - By Peter B. Gemma

The Refugee Act of 1980 created the official United States Refugee Admissions Program, and like any other government-funded industry, their original mission has long been forgotten. Resettlement policies have devolved into another bureaucracy, where government and non-profit agencies work to protect their jobs and expand “services.”
Currently, legitimate refugees must prove that they are persecuted for one of several reasons: political persuasion, religion, race, etc., but efforts are underway by the refugee industry to expand the definition to anyone moving anywhere for any reason. The latest designation is the “climate refugee:” people escaping changing weather patterns where they live are now “refugees” too.
To give an idea of the staying power of the refugee program, consider this: when the U.S. began taking Southeast Asian refugees in the late 1970s, the refugee agencies hired temporary workers, thinking the program would only go for a few months. Now, 40 years after the last American left Vietnam, we are still taking refugees from Southeast Asia. At least 1.5 million have come in as refugees alone, and it has detonated a chain of non-refugee immigrants.
One of the greatest misunderstandings about the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program is that anyone getting into the country as a refugee, or anyone who was granted asylum (after getting here on their own), becomes a legal, permanent resident on track to citizenship. Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and other nations take many more refugees than the U.S., but there is no comparison: in those countries, refugees are only hosted temporarily and will never be voting citizens.
In the U.S., they are permanent residents and ultimately become voting citizens. In fact, we allow in the largest number of permanent refugees of any country in the world. Those who don’t have a firm handle on legal immigration policies sometimes confuse the refugee program with temporary protected status of immigrants.
In 2007, there were about 48,000 refugees who settled here; by 2013, that number rose to 70,000. Last year, 85,000 were welcomed to our shores. Over the last 10 years, more than 700,000 refugees have come to live in America permanently.
Refugee contractors receive over $2 billion in taxpayer dollars annually -- between $2,000 and $5,000 per refugee -- to create resettlement plans for hundreds of unsuspecting towns and cities. And it’s nice work if you can get it: the Ethiopian Community Development Council President, Tsehaye Teferra, makes $275,000; Linda Hartke, head of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, has a $307,000 compensation package; and Mark Hetfield, CEO of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, pulls down $358,517 per annum.
The contractors’ job is to help refugees find work and housing, sign them up for welfare, medical care, get the children enrolled in school… then move on to a new set of paying “clients.” The result? The cost of the English Language Learner program in Lewiston, Maine has increased 4,000 percent since 2000. Seventeen percent of Lewiston’s population is Somali; 27 percent of the student body speaks 24 languages. Amarillo, Texas was targeted to take in 600 refugee children and told to make them fluent in English. Tutors cost the school system $1,300 per student per month. The federal government reimburses Amarillo $100 per student per year.
The refugee industry sends their wish list -- created in virtual secrecy -- to Washington, where the State Department and the White House set a limit based on the number of refugees contractors claim that cities and towns can absorb. Congress’ only role is to “consult” and, of course, appropriate money. According to Ken Tota, Deputy Director at the Office of Refugee Resettlement, Congress has never in his 25-year tenure questioned the refugee quota proposed by the administration.
In recent years, as many as 95 percent of the refugees coming to the U.S. were referred by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees or were the relatives of U.N.-picked refugees. Until the late 1990s, our government picked the large majority of refugees for resettlement in the U.S. Considering that the refugee influx causes increases in all legal and illegal immigration expenditures -- as family and social networks are established in the U.S. -- the U.N. is effectively dictating much of Washington’s immigration policy.
There is simply no logic to U.S. refugee policies. In July, a State Department report named Somalia as “a safe haven for terrorists,” yet 2,775 Somali refugees arrived in the United States last year. That rate is more than 30 percent higher than the previous record in the last 14 years. Some 98,000 Somalis refugees have entered into the U.S. since 2002.
The Obama administration placed a priority on asylum seekers and refugees who claim discrimination and prosecution because of their sexual identity. This resulted in an upsurge of asylum requests -- even from countries like the UK. One private refugee agency has set up an office in Nairobi, Kenya to advise gay asylum seekers about how to get into the refugee pipeline; a private contractor is recruiting refugees who will eventually become the contractor’s profit-generating clients. At one conference sponsored by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, a refugee contractor demanded that Medicaid pay for sex change operations if needed by newly arrived refugees.
The Trump Administration has slowed the flow of refugees and there are reports that the administration has beefed up security screening. However, nothing has been done about the negative impact on communities and the secrecy by which refugees are placed in unsuspecting locales.
President Trump had an opportunity in September to simply stop the program altogether when he submitted his first full-year limit on refugee settlement for FY 18. He did not.
Just recently, President Trump announced that the United States is withdrawing from the Global Compact on Migration. That nonbinding pact coordinates international migration and refugee issues, but it is not some longstanding agreement: it was created in 2016 by President Obama, and has little weight.
President Trump has yet to put his own person at the head of the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, which has resulted in “deep state” bureaucrats undermining the White House at every turn. If the administration does not get a handle on the intricacies of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, no wall building will stop the flow of vaguely defined “refugees.”
If the White House doesn’t catch on to the intricacies of this program, they will be continually snookered.
Because next year is another election cycle, there is only a slight chance for Congress to remake the United States Refugee Admissions Program into an America First policy.