The Trump administration may remove control of the refugee admissions program from the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, according to a report published last week in Foreign Policy Magazine.
That news has executives in the nine “non-profit” voluntary agencies (VOLAGs), who have collectively received more than $1 billion in federal funding annually for years to resettle refugees in communities around the country, in a frenzy as they contemplate how they will survive when a new set of bureaucrats with whom they have no history control the purse strings.
Last week’s article in the left-leaning, anti-Trump agenda Foreign Policy Magazine is seen as a preemptive strike by career officials within the State Department who oppose the Trump agenda, and the VOLAG executives who don’t want the gravy train to stop, to forestall such an organizational shift:
At issue is the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, which manages a budget of roughly $3.4 billion. The bureau, which oversees the U.S. government’s refugee program, is a critical tool of American diplomacy, according to current and former officials.
Opponents of the move argue that shifting the bureau out of Foggy Bottom would undermine America’s international influence and reinforce a perception abroad that the United States no longer places a priority on helping refugees fleeing war or persecution.
The internal debate over who should oversee the country’s refugee program comes as aid groups and lawmakers blasted the Trump administration’s admissions policy, accusing the White House of abandoning America’s moral and diplomatic leadership while the world faces the worst refugee crisis in history.
Foreign Policy Magazine‘s framing of the refugee admissions program as “a critical tool of American diplomacy” illustrates the left’s fundamental misunderstanding of the meaning of President Trump’s election by the American in 2016.
“On the campaign trail, Trump promised to suspend the Syrian refugee resettlement program, as well as the resettlement of refugees from countries that are hostile to the United States,” Breitbart News reported days after his election in November 2016.
Trump has delivered on those promises, reducing the total number of refugees resettled in the United States from 84,995 in FY 2016, the last full year of the Obama administration, to barely more than 12,000 in the first seven months of FY 2018, an annualized rate that will be below 22,000.
Admissions from the seven countries deemed “hotbeds of terrorism” by the State Department and specifically identified in Executive Order 13769 (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) have plunged from 36,696 in FY 2016 to 460 in the first seven months of FY 2018, according to the State Department’s interactive website.
“Officials in the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) favor transferring the overseas humanitarian assistance programs out of the State Department bureau to the U.S. Agency for International Development, which handles other relief programs. USAID is supposed to follow the secretary of state’s overall guidance on foreign policy, but it operates as an independent agency and often has turf battles with Foggy Bottom,” Foreign Policy reported.
“The stated reason to consider moving the US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) to the independent USAID is to save money by bringing our admissions program and humanitarian foreign aid together under one roof,” Ann Corcoran wrote last week at Refugee Resettlement Watch.
“I’m in no position to judge the wisest place to move it, but I am eager to see the little fiefdoms fall and cozy relationships broken between resettlement contractors and DOS bureaucrats. And, I have long maintained that refugee admission decisions should not be used as part of our foreign policy wheeling and dealing,” Corcoran noted.
It is the disruption of those cozy relationships, along with the dramatic reduction in federal funding, that has all the VOLAGs complaining.
But the Trump administration is focused on implementing the refugee admissions agenda the president campaigned on in 2016, as it did recently with the appointment of Andrew Veprek as deputy assistant secretary of state at the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.
“He is a true believer in the Trump immigration agenda,” a “former administration official” told Foreign Policy Magazine about Veprek, “speaking. . . on condition of anonymity.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, recently confirmed by the U.S. Senate, has hit the ground running and appears unlikely to be dissuaded from implementing the Trump agenda by preemptive strikes from left-leaning publications, regardless of their pedigree.
Foreign Policy Magazine is part of the FP group, “a division of Graham Holdings,” whose ownership is controlled by Donald Graham, the son of Katherine Graham, whose family owned the Washington Post from 1946 to 2013, and was its publisher from 1963 to 1979. Donald Graham was the publisher of the Post from 1979 to 2000, and sold the publication to Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, in 2013.
Graham’s wife, Amanda Bennett, is Voice of America Director, where she oversees the organization that “provid[es] content in more than 45 languages to 236.6 million people each week on radio, television, mobile and the Internet,” according to the Voice of America website.
Voice of America, in turn, is supervised by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, “an independent federal agency that oversees all non-military U.S. international broadcasting including the Voice of America.
“Together with her husband, Donald Graham, she was a co-founder of TheDream.us, which provides college scholarships to the children of undocumented immigrants,” according to the Voice of America website.
In February 2017, Breitbart News identified Bennett as one of “the top ten holdover Obama loyalist bureaucrats President Trump can either fire immediately or remove from their current positions (civil sevice).”