This is a really informative news report from reporter Gretchen Frazee at Indiana Public Media. The story begins with a warm introduction to a Syrian family which has just arrived in Indianapolis with the help of federal resettlement contractor Exodus Refugee Immigration which is a subcontractor of both Church World Service and Episcopal Migration Ministries (two of the big nine contractors).
You can read the warm and fuzzy part yourselves, then this (emphasis is mine):
The U.S. began bringing in Syrian refugees in October and expects to allow in a total of 2,000 by the end of the fiscal year. [This fiscal year ends September 30th, 2015. Yesterday we learned that the contractors are pushing Obama to raise the ceiling for Syrians.—ed]
One of the pressing questions we have (and most readers concerned for their towns have) is how is a town or city chosen to be the next resettlement site for a group of new refugees.
We are told that one reason Indianapolis was chosen is that the Islamic Society of North America is nearby (ahhhhh!).
Carleen Miller, Executive Director Exodus Refugee Immigration: “This year the number will be small…then their relatives will come and then their relatives will come.”
The State Department normally sends refugees to cities where they have friends or family. But Lababidi and Alhamoud didn’t know anyone in the U.S., so the government used a kind of formula to determine which location had the resources to best meet their needs. The department determined that place was Indiana. [I sure would like to see this formula!—ed]
“The main thing is that refugees go to a place that’s welcoming, that has a cost of living they can survive in, that has employment and opportunities,” says Carleen Miller, the executive director of Exodus Refugee Immigration, which is handling Syrian families’ resettlement in Indianapolis.
She points out that the Islamic Society of North America is based just outside of Indianapolis in Plainfield. There is also a mosque which many Syrians attend in Fishers and a group of Christian Syrians at a nearby church.
“There are people who are interested in Syrians in our city, so it makes for a good environment for them to be successful,” Miller says.
Then there is a very long section on security concerns.
Regular readers know that the FBI testified in Congress a few weeks ago that it was virtually impossible to properly screen the Syrians.
Exodus Refugee Immigration has resettled three Syrian refugee families in Indianapolis so far.
Miller calls the process long and arduous.
“The U.S. has the most rigorous screening process where they do at least five security checks on refugees coming into the country,” she says.
Syrians are also receiving additional scrutiny, although State Department officials aren’t saying exactly what that is.
“It’s a hard balance to strike,” says former Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Indiana, who served as chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions with Iran.
“You want to welcome these people into this country and into the state, but at the same time you want to be careful about it. You want to trust, but you want to verify,” Hamilton says.
The cause for concern and an extra watchful eye is the threat of radicals who might try to enter the U.S. as refugees. Even while most people acknowledge the vast majority of people applying for refugee status are harmless and are in a real need of help, the small possibility of extremists trying to get into the U.S. via refugee status is raising questions.
“If it’s a very young person, a child, you probably don’t need to follow that person closely,” he says. “An elderly person, likewise. The people you really have to keep your eye on, to be blunt about it, are young men. They’re not exclusively the problem, but they’re the overwhelming part of the problem.”
Oh, yeh, I bet the Islamic Society of North America and CAIR aren’t going to like this!
Hamilton says that’s why police must keep tabs on refugees after they enter the country — often through random checks of the places they frequent, such as the churches or mosques they attend — but he is quick to reiterate that in the overwhelming majority of cases, refugees are hard working people who simply want to make a better life for themselves and their families. [Definitely keep an eye on those Christian terrorists!—ed]
The U.S. cannot say how many more Syrians might come to Indiana specifically, but service providers are doing their best to prepare because refugee populations tend to build on each other.
“This year the number will be small and it may grow as we get a few families, and then their relatives will come and then their relatives will come,” Miller says.
Read this whole article. I’ve only snipped some of the news that interested me. There is a discussion about refugee mental health and about how the Burmese have overwhelmed Fort Wayne, Indiana—from refugee resettlement and from secondary migration.
Several years ago former Indiana Senator Richard Lugar obtained a GAO Report on the problem of refugee overload to towns and cities and it appears to have been just an exercise in futility as it appears to have been simply thrown down a rat hole.
Go here for our archive on Indiana. We have published many posts on problems in the state. We first became aware of those problems when the Health Department in Fort Wayne was overwhelmed with refugee TB cases in 2007.
An afterthought: Check out the contractors most recent Form 990 here. They took in $2,120,954 and only $237,255 might have come from non-taxpayer funds (p. 9). Remember this is a business, it is not funded by passing the plate at church on Sunday!