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Archive for the ‘Refugee Resettlement Program’ Category

Thursday night at the St. Cloud Public Library, Dr. John Palmer gave a presentation based on this document. One of the primary focuses of Dr. Palmer’s presentation was to establish a set of facts so St. Cloud could have an honest discussion about the hidden costs of St. Cloud’s changing demographics.

One of the statistic sets that Dr. Palmer cited was the median household income for the major demographic groups. Dr. Palmer cited statistics from the State Demographer’s Office, which said “Median income is the point at which half the individuals earn less than that amount and half earn more. In 2015, the Median household income of Minnesotans was $60,900. Whites had a median household income of $64,100 with the next four largest groups of Minnesotans (Blacks, Mexicans, Hmong and Somali) having a substantially lower median household incomes than Whites. In order of median income, Hmong had the highest median income at $53,000 and Somalis had the lowest median income at $18,400. Black median income was $28,800 and Mexican median income was $38,500 in 2015.”

Dr. Palmer also noted the poverty rates of these demographic groups:

The largest Minnesota refugee-related population (Hmong), in 2015, have almost three times more of their population living below or near the poverty level than White Minnesotans (61% v. 21%). When the most recent (Somali) and second largest, refugee-related population are compared to White Minnesotans based on percent living below or near the poverty level, nearly four times more Somalis (21% v. 83%) live below or nearly below the poverty level than Whites. When the most recent refugee population (Somali) in Minnesota are compared to the largest and nearly 30 year resident refugee population (Hmong) in Minnesota, it appears that resettled refugees experience great challenges in escaping poverty and low-income status in the decades following resettlement.

Then Dr. Palmer observed:

“If you’re a Minnesotan and you see this data, you should be embarrassed. Something is wrong with this picture,” he said. It confirms the existence of a wide disparity in the economic health of different groups, Palmer said.

Dr. Palmer followed that up with this observation:

“When we look at the experience of the Hmong community and continuing economic challenges faced by African-Americans … we have not done, as a society, a very good job,” he said. “And then, we’ve brought in another population that have high needs.”

After Dr. Palmer’s presentation, he opened the floor to accept questions. One of the ‘questioners’ accused Dr. Palmer of cherry-picking statistics, arguing that Somalis had opened a number of businesses.

This missed the point that too many Somalis live in poverty or close to the Federal Poverty Level, aka FPL. The point Dr. Palmer tried making was that a) Minnesota hadn’t done a good job of making the American Dream available to these minority populations and b) he’s interested in finding a solution to lift these people out of poverty so they could live that American Dream.

Another questioner identified herself as a teacher at SCTCC. She asked whether Dr. Palmer put a high priority on diversity. He replied that he put a high priority on diversity of thought and that he loved America the melting pot but not America, the salad bowl, reminding people of the phrase e pluribus Unum, which means “out of many, One.”

It isn’t a stretch to think that #UniteCloud’s attendees hoped to pick a fight. As Dr. Palmer said at the outset, “If you came to hear an anti-refugee speaker you might as well leave, because I’m not that. That’s not who I am, that’s not what I do, that’s not what I want to be known of as in the community.” Nonetheless, people from #UniteCloud and ISIAIH/GRIP did their best to stir racial tension and animosity. Instead of succeeding, they exposed themselves as only interested in creating heat, not shedding light.

Put differently, Dr. Palmer came seeking a solution. #UniteCloud and ISIAIH/GRIP came to pick a fight.

In Stephanie Dickrell’s article, an organization called Cultural Bridges will ask the St. Joseph City Council to consider a resolution. The resolution would “declare the city a welcoming place for all.”

According to the article, the “move comes after posters declaring white-nationalist views were hung around St. Joseph in mid-January.” The posters carried messages that said “unapologetically white,” that “hate speech is free speech” and “there are two genders.”

The citizens of the city of St. Joseph definitely aren’t interested in political correctness but they know their Constitution. Hate speech is protected by the First Amendment as long as the speech doesn’t advocate specific acts of violence. Speech that everyone agrees with doesn’t need protection.

What we don’t know from this article is whether the posters represent the thoughts of the people living in St. Joe. What’s certain, however, is that the people sponsoring the resolution definitely have a pro-refugee resettlement agenda:

This poster was found stapled to a power line pole:

The article seems less than professional. Early in the article, Stephanie Dickrell wrote “We are trying to speak up in a united effort to let people who are not of our culture who live in our community know that we support them and that we welcome them,” said Dianne DeVargas, a member of the group. Cultural Bridges started in response to the arrival of Somali families to the area a few years ago, and has been helping them settle and integrate into the community, said Dianne’s husband Vincent DeVargas, another member of Cultural Bridges.”

Later, Dickrell wrote “They all felt very strongly that if we did not say anything, that that was as much as admitting that the signs were correct,” Dianne said. “So without giving them any more press time, which we didn’t want to happen, we want to spin this into a positive event.” Still later, Dickrell wrote “There’s a number of single mothers who have chosen the area because they feel it’s a safe, quiet place to raise their children, Dianne said.”

If I didn’t know better, I’d think that Ms. Dickrell had a distinct pro-resettlement bias. Mrs. DeVargas certainly isn’t unbiased. She’s staunchly pro-resettlement. This is worthy of closer inspection:

Dianne credited the idea for the welcoming resolution to the people in St. Cloud who stood up against the refugee moratorium.

The ostriches that voted for the ‘welcoming’ resolution voted against knowing how much refugee resettlement was costing taxpayers. Notice that I didn’t ask how much it cost the city or the county or the school district. How much money was spent at the hospitals or in schools on translators? How much money was spent on taxpayer-funded health care or taxpayer-funded EBT cards?

These are hidden costs that aren’t line items in the city budget or the school district operating budget. Let’s be clear about this. The people who voted for the welcoming resolution aren’t fiscally responsible.

I don’t know how Monday night’s vote will turn out. I wouldn’t bet against it passing.

The Democrats’ battle cry on all things migration and immigration has been ‘that’s not who we are’. Democrats don’t tell taxpayers whether we can afford to accept more refugees. They simply tell us that it’s imperative that the U.S. accept tens of thousands of refugees each year.

When President Trump said halt!, Lutheran Social Services screamed. As I’ve written about before refugee resettlement is how they make the money that pays their executives’ lucrative salaries. At the time, I wrote “LSS gets paid $1,000 for each refugee it finds a home for. This year, LSS will get $225,000 to resettle refugees. That doesn’t sound like humanitarian work. That’s what a lucrative racket sounds like.”

Public servants like St. Cloud City Councilman Jeff Johnson has tried to find out how much refugee resettlement costs St. Cloud taxpayers. For being fiscally responsible, the special interests have criticized him constantly. Thankfully, Johnson is about to get some answers:

Did you know that welfare spending in Minnesota is going up about 20 percent or more a year? K-12 budgets are ballooning, as well. All we have is a promise that the Office of Legislative Auditor is going to tell lawmakers in 2018 what costs are currently tracked, so lawmakers can presumably order HHS and other state agencies to begin tracking the costs.

Think of that last statement. At present, lawmakers haven’t told state agencies to track the costs of refugee resettlement. Here’s why that’s important:

Think about this a minute. From 2002-2014, there’s been an outmigration of Minnesota-born people. While that’s been happening, there’s been a strong inmigration of people born in other countries, sometimes hitting 15,000 international-born refugees.

Further, let’s remember that Minnesota’s welfare spending is increasing by 20% per year. What math-minded person thinks that’s sustainable? It’s one thing if a minor department’s budget increases by 10-15% per biennium for a couple biennia. That’s something that we can probably absorb without running a major deficit. The HHS budget is the second biggest line item in the state budget, behind only K-12 Education. Astronomical increases to the second-biggest department in Minnesota’s budget isn’t sustainable.

Our reigning elite, including so-called feminists, have ignored the pleas and shouted down the concerns of Americans who dare to wonder out loud how to deal with incoming cultures that openly reject religious tolerance, profess an allegiance to Sharia law, practice polygamy and mutilate their daughters. These are not the loser racists who show up in ridiculous man-boy outfits to rant and rave at alt-right gatherings. These are good, decent Americans who wonder, “What about my culture? Does that get any respect?”

This isn’t a partisan issue. It’s a bipartisan issue. Businesspeople from both parties love cheap labor. If they have to drive the middle class out of Minnesota while importing low-skill international workers that they pay a pittance, then that’s what they’re willing to do.

That isn’t to say that all businesspeople think that way. They don’t. I’m just identifying the fact that there are some entrepreneurs who do think that way. Often, they’re found in the hospitality and meat-packing industries.

The point is simple: importing thousands of international refugees isn’t sustainable. Politicians that tell us otherwise are either lying or they’re too stupid to serve us properly.

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DFL gubernatorial candidate Paul Thissen thinks that accepting refugees is the morally right thing to do. Thissen doesn’t attempt to hide this in his Pi-Press op-ed. Thissen starts by saying “I spent a morning last week at Washington Technology Magnet School in St. Paul.  The highlight of the trip was a visit to an English Language Learner classroom filled with junior-high-aged children whose families had recently arrived in Minnesota. Bright eyes and smiles accompanied the practiced English greetings that welcomed me into their classroom – a classroom that buzzed with the energy of active and intense learning.”

What’s missing from Thissen’s op-ed was how much translators in that classroom cost. There certainly isn’t anything mentioned how much translators working in classrooms across the state cost. Apparently, that isn’t Thissen’s concern. Apparently, being an accepting society is the only thing that matters to him.

What’s most telling about Thissen’s thinking is when he said “Rather than appealing to Minnesota’s longstanding and proud tradition of welcoming refugees, a tradition led by religious organizations across our state, Johnson plays to baser instincts of fear and division.” First, these aren’t “religious organizations” as much as they’re money-grubbing nonprofits. They aren’t doing this for altruistic reasons. LSS wouldn’t be in the refugee resettlement industry if they weren’t raking in tens of thousands of dollars from the resettlement programs.

Next, it apparently hasn’t dawned on Thissen that we’re probably reaching a saturation point in terms of refugees. A loyal reader of LFR told me that it cost the St. Cloud Hospital $450,000 of its own money to treat foreign-born patients just 4 years ago. Just a year ago, that figure had jumped to $1,700,000. Does Thissen think that money grows on trees, then is dispersed to hospitals and high schools to pay for treatment and translators? This sentence is pure spin:

Federal officials consult closely with local resettlement agencies (Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Services, the Minnesota Council of Churches) to assess local resources — including staffing, affordable housing and capacity for services like ESL classes and health screenings — before determining the number of refugees our communities can absorb.

If that’s so, explain this video:

From what I’ve seen, the health screenings either don’t happen or they don’t stop serious health difficulties from happening. Finally, there’s this:

When we take actions that turn desperate people away out of fear, out of smallness, or out of political expediency, we fail a fundamental test of character. We fail America. We fail Minnesota. We fail ourselves.

When we turn people away because our communities are going broke absorbing them, we pass the test of rational thinking. When we say that we don’t want additional refugees because of the health risks that they pose, it’s proof that we’re capable of rational thought. Contrary to Rep. Thissen’s accusations, we aren’t failing anything. We’re proving that we’re capable of saying enough is enough.

This article provides proof that President Trump would implement an America-first refugee policy. According to the article, Michelle Eberhard, who leads refugee services at Arrive Ministries, is quoted as saying “In my office, I am prepared for a big cut. I would be really surprised if we get even close to that 45,000 number nationally.”

Later in the article, it says “Lutheran Social Service projects placing 200 people in the Twin Cities and 225 in St. Cloud. With 24 arrivals so far and roughly a dozen more expected in coming months, hitting that target is in question, but the agency says it remains optimistic. Advocates and resettlement officials decry the changes, which they say mean vulnerable people as well as family members already settled here will face longer waits and uncertainty.”

It’s important to ask the question of why Lutheran Social Services, aka LSS, is optimistic of settling more refugees. The simple truth is that LSS gets paid lots of money to settle people in the United States. That money is required to help them pay the exorbitant salaries of their executives.

Also, “About 1,620 refugees came to Minnesota during the federal fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, down more than 40 percent from the previous year. Comparing calendar year numbers is even starker: By the end of 2017, fewer than 950 refugees will have arrived in Minnesota, compared with more than 3,000 in 2016.”

Chain migration must end. It doesn’t make sense to not base migration on what’s best for the United States, not the refugees. This information is troubling:

The new guidelines also suspended the so-called “follow-to-join” program, which allows refugees resettled within the past two years to sponsor spouses and unmarried children. Officials here do not know exactly what share of refugees arrive in Minnesota through the program, which the administration said raised concerns because relatives undergo less extensive vetting. But family reunification dominates resettlement in the state.

Why should DHS accept as fact who is and isn’t family?

It’s justifiable to question a program that doesn’t want to answer the public’s questions.

John Palmer, a professor emeritus at St. Cloud State, is getting city officials’ attention by participating in discussions that might lead to recalling members of the City Council.

According to the article, a “group of about 15 St. Cloud residents is planning to study the possible recall of elected officials after the ‘continued denial on the part of the City Council and (a)dministration of problems created by the actions of Lutheran Social (Service) of Minnesota’s resettlement of refugees into the city,’ according to St. Cloud resident John Palmer.”

Thanks to the City Council’s arrogance, the citizens are getting fed up. When Councilman Johnson announced that he’d be bringing a resolution up for debate, he made sure each member of the council had a copy of the resolution well in advance. When Jeff Goerger presented his resolution for debate, it was sprung on Councilman Johnson during that meeting.

Each time Councilman Johnson responded to his constituents’ calls for additional information on the costs associated with refugees, Mayor Kleis, the City Council and the County did their best to stonewall him. What these citizens didn’t notice (either that or they just tried ignoring them) is that there’s a substantial following that are worried about the financial impact refugees are having on their city and their schools. If these city councilmembers don’t start listening, they’ll get fired the next time that they’re up for re-election.

Palmer has attended the last few council meetings and study sessions, and has offered to speak about Robert’s Rules of Order, on which the council’s rules of order is based. “The common element is to get answers about the cost to society relative to resettlement of refugees,” Palmer said, adding that it frustrates the group’s members that “none of the elected officials in the area appear to have an interest” in studying the costs.

While Mayor Kleis says that there isn’t a cost associated with refugees, other argue the opposite. Don Casey stated “No one even knows for sure how many Somali refugees live in St. Cloud (or this metro area). All we know is Lutheran Social Services has settled a little more than 1500 — a fraction of the actual count because the majority are secondary refugees who resettled here from other communities in the U.S. (Johnson’s resolution didn’t deal with secondary settlers.)”

Casey’s argument is that it’s impossible to know the costs so we shouldn’t try getting to know how much it costs. What he’s essentially saying is that we shouldn’t care how much something costs if the government tries to hide the costs from taxpayers. That’s stupid.

Just 2 weeks ago, the St. Cloud City Council tried silencing Councilman Jeff Johnson. They improperly approved a resolution that wasn’t allowed by the Council’s own rules. For an item to get discussed during the meeting, the council is supposed to receive notice that it will be discussed, with the theory being that the council should have the opportunity to read and think through proposals. Instead, Councilman Goerger ambushed Councilman Johnson with his ‘welcoming’ resolution.

During last night’s discussion of Johnson’s resolution, Councilman Hontos scolded the Council for mistreating Johnson. Hontos highlighted something that the Council rejected when Jeff Johnson proposed it but accepted it when Mayor Kleis proposed it. Let’s be clear about something. This Council, as currently configured, isn’t welcoming if you don’t march in lockstep with them. Frankly, several members don’t apply the rules that they voted on in August. They’ve done everything they can to discourage Jeff Johnson’s quest for information about how much refugee resettlement costs taxpayers.

The good news is that Councilman Johnson isn’t easily discouraged. The more these politicians and bureaucrats try hiding this information, the more Johnson insists on getting the information. BTW, each time the Council tries keeping that information from the public, Johnson’s group of supporters gets bigger. This isn’t disappearing. It isn’t going away. These citizens are determined. Politicians who’ve attempted to ignore this issue will get hurt the next time they run for re-election.

About 4 hours and 10 minutes into the meeting Councilman Johnson talked about the provision that allows states to opt out of the program. Specifically, Councilman Johnson said “What absolutely frustrates me is when members of the legislature tell me that there’s nothing the state can do. That’s absolute bullroar because it says right here in 45 Code of regulations dash 301, giving states the ability to opt out of the Refugee Resettlement Program.” Then Councilman Johnson highlights the procedure for opting out of the resettlement program. It isn’t impossible. It just requires a spine. Councilman Johnson is the only person on the City Council who has one. He’s also the only person who actually listens to the people, not the special interests.

The truth is that the people who voted for Councilman Goerger’s resolution aren’t welcoming people. They’re welcoming only if people agree with them. They ambushed Councilman Johnson because he stood up to them. That isn’t the definition of welcoming. That’s the definition of fickle.

This LTE, written by Maureen Warren, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, is pure CYA. In the LTE, Warren states “As part of our work, we are required to hold quarterly meetings with stakeholders that are involved in the process of helping to resettle refugees. These stakeholders include officials from local government, county personnel in human services, and representatives from public health, public safety, housing community, public education, social services, businesses and other service providers.”

There’s ample proof that county officials have gotten briefed on the programs. After all, they administer most of these programs. However, there’s no proof whatsoever that city officials have attended these meetings. Mayor Kleis has repeatedly said that the city doesn’t have anything to do with refugee resettlement. He’s also said “We don’t have any funding that goes to refugee resettlement.”

That’s pretty slippery wording. Notice that Mayor Kleis didn’t say that the city budget doesn’t spend money on refugees who’ve already settled here. Further, citizens who support Councilman Johnson’s moratorium haven’t talked about city budgets:

Since July 10, 22 people have spoken about refugee resettlement. Many of the speakers said they are concerned about the taxpayer cost of refugees.

Once the refugees have been here 90 days, federal funding disappears. At that point, the taxpayers get hit with the costs of supporting refugees. The same taxpayers that pay property taxes to the city get hit with property tax increases from the school district to pay for programs that help refugees learn the English language. That’s why St. Cloud’s education rating is awful. By comparison, Sartell, which doesn’t have to deal with refugees, earns a higher rating for education and for crime.

Our focus is to increase communication and seek solutions to meet the needs of refugee populations. This is a working group. Quarterly meetings were never intended to be an open public forum.

Thus far, it’s apparent that LSS’s focus is on keeping these proceedings secret.

We know there is community interest in learning more about refugee resettlement. To create greater understanding about this work, we are opening our December quarterly consultation meeting to interested public observers.

How quaint. LSS is opening up a meeting one time so LSS can say that they’ve been transparent.

Resettling refugees is humanitarian work. We’ve been involved in refugee resettlement for nearly 10 years in St. Cloud, and many decades in Minnesota. Our role is to help refugees get off to a good start and become productive members of the community as quickly as possible.

Actually, it’s a racket. Businesses that hire refugees who’ve been unemployed more than 6 months qualify for a tax credit of up to $9,600. Businesses hiring refugees aren’t hiring them for middle management positions. They’re hiring them for unskilled positions. In other words, businesses get cheap labor and a huge tax credit for hiring cheap labor.

Meanwhile, LSS gets paid $1,000 for each refugee it finds a home for. This year, LSS will get $225,000 to resettle refugees. That doesn’t sound like humanitarian work. That’s what a lucrative racket sounds like. This letter from Ron Branstner lays things out beautifully:

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Based on the number of refugees admitted into the country, there’s no mistaking the fact that there’s a new administration in charge. These statistics don’t tap-dance around the differences between the Obama administration and the Trump administration.

For instance, “In October 2017, the first month of FY 2018, only 275 refugees from … Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen were admitted to the United States under the Refugee Admissions Program. In contrast, in October 2016, the first month of FY 2017, a total of 4,581 refugees from these seven countries were admitted into the United States under the Refugee Admissions Program (1,352 from Somalia, 1,323 from Iraq, 1,297 from Syria, 414 from Iran, and none from either Libya or Yemen.)”

That’s what I like seeing! If people want to call me Islamophobic, that’s fine. It isn’t true but I won’t shrivel if I’m called that. I won’t worry if Gov. Dayton says I need to find another state, either:

These refugees cost communities tons of money. It costs schools lots of extra money to get refugees up to speed in speaking English. It costs workers tons of money in lower wages, too. Then there’s this:

Refugee Council USA, the “trade organization” of the refugee resettlement industry, issued a statement last week that it “is appalled by the Administration’s proposed changes to refugee processing. These changes enact another ban on refugee admissions and are driven by ideology rather than necessity.”

TRANSLATION: Our clients need the cheap labor provided by these refugees. Trump is spoiling that for our clients.

If you think I’m being sarcastic about what RCUSA is complaining about, I’m not. I wrote about the refugee resettlement racket in this post. It’s another of DC’s cottage industries.

This LTE made me laugh hysterically. The heart of the LTE says “There is a relatively new organization, the National Institute for Civil Discourse, that might welcome the debate/discussion that will take place on Nov. 6 at the St. Cloud City Council meeting, when Johnson plans to introduce his proposed ban. Rather than calling names, let us have the free speech discussion on an issue that divides many of us. “Civil discourse, wherein we actually listen and hear one another, is key to a democratic republic, which our Founding Fathers gave us!”

If you watch the video of that portion of the Oct. 23 City Council meeting, you’d see that those that voted for the Goerger resolution shut down debate the minute Councilman Johnson started speaking. Councilman Masters made the motion to stop discussion after only a few minutes of hearing from the opposition. While it’s wrong to call that censorship, it isn’t wrong to accuse the City Council 5 afraid of having a full-throated discussion of the issues.

Mayor Kleis has been flippant, too, frequently stating that a) it’s a federal matter and b) no money comes out of the city budget. Frankly, that’s insulting. I’ll stipulate that there isn’t a line item in St. Cloud’s operating budget titled ‘Law Enforcement- refugees’ or ‘City health inspections of Somali restaurants’, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a cost.

Further, St. Cloud taxpayers in Benton, Sherburne and Stearns counties live in ISD742. Everyone of those home owners pay property taxes that pay for the school levy that helps refugee students get up to speed on reading English. St. Cloud taxpayers pay taxes to the state, too, which funds many of the health insurance programs or other human services like housing assistance. Whether it’s technically part of St. Cloud’s operating budget or not, it’s still a tax paid by St. Cloud taxpayers.

Playing coy word games isn’t leadership. It’s insulting. Mayor Kleis, if you aren’t willing to be a leader, find a different job. St. Cloud has gone downhill the last 5+ years. Downtown businesses are doing poorly. The University that you provided political cover for is in a financial and enrollment tailspin. That’s hurting St. Cloud’s economy.

While it would be nice to see some civility and professionalism at next week’s City Council meeting, I don’t have high expectations for that.