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Report: Government Officials Headed Up ‘Post-Election National Refugee Advocacy Call’

“People in government” headed up a “452-person nationwide ‘post-election national refugee advocacy’ conference call” on Friday, according to a report at MassLive.com.

“The call leaders said ‘don’t overreact,’ prepare to advocate and argue in favor of refugee resettlement programs and hold steady until something changes,” Kathryn Buckley-Brawner, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts, a local refugee resettlement agency, told MassLive.

“People whose job it is to have their finger on the pulse of what’s going on in our government don’t have a clue. If they don’t have a clue, the rest of us are in the same position,” Buckley-Brawner added.

Breitbart News contacted Robert Carey, director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), and Anne C. Richard, assistant secretary of state at the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (BPRM), and asked if they could confirm the MassLive report, and if they organized the call or participated in it.

ORR and BPRM are the two agencies responsible for managing the federal refugee resettlement program.

Neither Carey nor Richard responded to the Breitbart News inquiry.

As MassLive reported, the refugee resettlement industry is in shock after the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. Trump has promised to pause the resettlement of Syrian refugees and reduce the overall number of refugees resettled in the country:

Asked if she thought a city refugee resettlement program would be subject to change under President-elect Donald Trump, Catholic Charities Executive Director Kathryn Buckley-Brawner pulled no punches.

“Of course it is,” Buckley-Brawner said. “Because Trump will be president. It’s less a question about ‘is’ as opposed to ‘will.'”

While at least one local public official, L. Brooks Patterson, who is the Oakland, Michigan, county executive, has promised to sue the federal government for resettling refugees in his jurisdiction without complying with the “consultation clause” of the Refugee Act of 1980, other local officials continue to welcome them.

“Obviously, I’m concerned about some of (Trump’s) campaign statements. But the campaign is over now. We’ll wait and see what comes, but November 8th has not diminished my commitment and the commitment of this community to remaining a welcoming place,” Mayor David Narkewicz of Northampton, Massachusetts, told MassLive.

According to the refugee resettlement plans of Catholic Charities, “51 refugees [are scheduled to be] resettled in [Northampton] between January and September, 2017.”

Those plans, however, are likely to change when President-elect Trump is sworn into office on January 20, 2017.

“Day One, he can change things,” Jeremy Mayer, associate professor of politics at George Mason University, told Voice of America News.

In Fiscal Year 2016, which ended on September 30, 2016, the Obama administration resettled 85,000 refugees in the United States, 12,500 of whom were from Syria.

The federal refugee resettlement program is currently operating, as is the rest of the federal government, on temporary budget authority that ends on December 9.

The incoming Trump administration has indicated that it wants to see that temporary authority extended into March.

Typically, federal programs under temporary authority continue to operate at the same levels as the most recent fiscal year.

The ORR and BPRM, however, are operating the federal refugee resettlement program at levels well above the FY 2016 operation, and even above the 110,000 refugee level proposed by the Obama administration for FY 2017, but not approved by Congress.

As Breitbart News reported last week, refugees have been resettled in the United States at an annual rate of about 117,000 in the first month and half since October 1, 2016, the beginning of FY 2017.

“[President-elect Trump] can’t remove [the Refugee Act of 1980] from the books, but he can certainly reduce the numbers and reduce the numbers from certain regions,” Kevin Appleby, senior director of International Migration Policy at the Center for Migration Studies told Voice of America News.

“He has a lot of power in terms of who comes in and the number of people who come in,” Appleby added.

“Most people just do not have opportunity to know refugees personally enough, to know the years they’ve suffered in miserable living environments,” he adds. “I believe the long arc of history is just, and the United States will continue to both welcome newcomers and to right any wrong that might be taken in any short term initiative.”

In FY 2016, the Obama administration accelerated the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the country dramatically during the last six months of the fiscal year. According to Voice of America News, “The Obama administration says there will be no similar last-minute effort to increase refugee arrivals to the U.S. ahead of possible cuts to the program.”

“We have no plans to accelerate the refugee admissions process,” a State Department spokesperson told Voice of America News last week.

Breitbart News, however, reported that there has been a slight increase in the rate of  resettlement of refugees in the United States since the election of President-elect Trump, compared to the rate of resettlement from October 1 to November 8.

Beginning January 21, 2017, the State Department’s plans regarding the refugee admissions process are likely to change significantly.

UPDATE:

“The State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration did not organize the call described in this article. In addition, neither Assistant Secretary Richard nor any staff of the Bureau participated,” a State Department spokesperson told Breitbart News.

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