Foreign Refugee Managers: Keep Americans in the Dark

AP Photo/Esteban Felix
AP Photo/Esteban Felix

Nearly all managers in taxpayer-funded, refugee-delivery organizations say the public should have no say about the delivery of unskilled refugees into Americans’ neighborhoods, job markets, and schools, says a survey by refugee groups.

The 61-page survey was released December 8 by the Refugee Council USA and the Center for Migration Studies, as the refugee groups cheered Joe Biden for his campaign-trail promise to dramatically expand the flow of low-wage refugees into Americans’ workplaces.

Just 15 percent of managers in refugee agencies, and just 14 percent of refugee officials in state governments, said that “neighborhood associations” should be “given a voice in the Refugee Resettlement process,” according to a chart on page 27 of the survey.

Once warned, many neighborhood groups protest against the delivery of refugees by the groups, which are dubbed VOLAGs because the official government term is a “Voluntary Agency.”

Most VOLAG respondents also argued that the federal government should not give a voice to Americans’ local governments:

Fifty-eight percent of survey respondents believe that the federal government should consult with state and local officials about resettlement but should not be required to obtain their consent before refugees are resettled. Smaller percentages believed that state and local officials should neither be consulted nor required to consent (19 percent).

In contrast, there was an overwhelming agreement by the VOLAG managers on the need to inform political allies among former refugees and refugee community advocates, said the survey, titled “Charting a Court to Rebuild and Strengthen the US Refugee Admissions Program.”

The survey shows a 3o percent to 50 percent agreement about informing public schools, mental health care providers, affordable housing associations, and employers. There was also support for informing advocates for domestic violence victims, welfare officials, Medicaid providers, training centers, and landlords.

Yet the VOLAG managers also praised themselves for saving lives and bringing diversity and poverty to Americans’ towns. The refugees “are the heart of what American ideals once were.,” one VOLAG respondent told the survey.

The VOLAG groups have cheered Joe Biden’s promise to spike the inflow of refugees to 125,0000 per year, or roughly one refugee for every six legal immigrants.

Since 2000, almost one million refugees have been admitted — many of whom went to work in meatpacking plants or other low-wage sites — amid support from the Koch network and other employers.

“These are essentially businesses, government contractors, and they would like to be able to do their business unencumbered by the views or needs of the communities in which they’re operating,” said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies. She continued:

They simply have contempt for the opinions of the people who already live in these communities, whether they are Americans or legal immigrants, or government officials. The [VOLAG managers] think they know best, and think that they should be left alone to do what they think best.

The VOLAGs claim to be saviors of refugees, she said. “That’s an emotional argument that they use as a weapon against the communities that dare to challenge them — some of them may actually believe that, but there’s no escaping that this is also a big business.”

The VOLAG groups would be far more effective in helping migrants if they conducted their work in troubled countries, Vaughan added:

Twelve times as many people could be helped overseas for the same amount of money that we spend bringing refugees here to live. If you want to make policy on the basis of the moral high ground, you have to consider that you can help 12 times as many people by supporting international efforts where the refugees are oversseas than you can by bringing a few refugees into the United States.

In October, Ann Corcoran, founder of Refugee resettlement Watch, dismissed the pleading from pro-migration activists, saying:

There’s no sense trying to argue with [progresives] except to turn it back and say; ‘What about our own poor people? Why aren’t they interested in taking care of our poor Americans? Our homeless? Why are refugees and immigrants somehow cooler and more desirable to take care of than our own poor people? Have we run out of poor Americans to take care of?’ No, clearly, we have not run out of poor Americans.

The VOLAG report ignored many Americans’ rational opposition to refugee resettlement in their neighborhoods, including chaotic diversity in crowded schools, reduced pressure on employers to provide higher wages or funding for labor-saving machinery, increased opportunity for landlords to raise rents. and diverted social spending. Instead, the report merely admitted that “the receiving community strongly influences refugee integration.”

But the survey did admit some of the great difficulties that refugees face while living in the chaotic, modern, and competitive U.S. society.

For example, the survey asked refugees what help they needed most, even after being in the United States for five years. Fifty-six percent said they needed financial advice, 50 percent said they need job training, 38 percent cited “Orientation to life in the US.” Still, just 2 percent said they needed more advice on “applying for cash assistance.”

Among refugee women, 65 percent sought help for finding employment, and 69 percent sought job training, even after two years.

So the report urged  government officials to lower their definition for success: “Adopt a more expansive and flexible approach to resettlement that recognizes the importance of work but defines integration more broadly than self-sufficiency through early employment.”

The report also notes that sexual minorities among the refugees deserve more attention and funding because they are isolated from Americans and from fellow refugees:

Resettlement staff, including refugees, often do not feel comfortable with LGBTQ clients and receive insufficient training on their needs. Past trauma, combined with lack of acceptance and isolation, can cause and exacerbate mental health challenges. The resettlement system, respondents said, needs to devote more attention to finding safe, accessible, and welcoming communities for LGBTQ refugees, with appropriate integration services and better-trained case managers and resettlement staff.

Under the pro-American policies set by President Donald Trump, the refugee inflow dropped to 15,000 a year.

The decline forced U.S. companies to hire Americans at higher wages and to invest in labor-saving machinery. In 2017, for example, meatpackers dramatically expanded their investment in slaughterhouse technology to offset their loss of refugee workers, and in 2019, median household wages rose by seven percent.



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