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Possible shifting of refugee resettlement to private organizations : hearing before the Subcommitee on Immigration and Claims of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, second session, August 1, 1996 online

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POSSIBLE SHIFTING OF REFUGEE RESETHEMENT
TO PRIVATE ORGANIZATIONS



Y 4. J 89/1: 104-86

Possible Shifting of Refugee Resett. . .

HEARING

BEFORE THE

SUBCOMMITTEE ON
IMMIGRATION AND CLAIMS

OF THE

COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIAEY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

ONE HUNDRED FOURTH CONGRESS

SECOND SESSION



AUGUST 1, 1996



oim?;;n~^ Serial No. 8(



Serial No. 86

JAN 1 6 is^^



'=='»«fc-,.^^



Printed for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary



U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
35-245 CC WASHINGTON : 1996

For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office
Superintendent of Documents, Congressi5sB»4.Sfties.QfQse^VS(ji§Jiipfilon^ DC 20402

ISBN o|t 6-053708-8 ^ """^

GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS DEFT
,, ,^, BOSTON PUEUCUBRARY -^'
700 Boylston Street ;^.
Boston, MA 02117 ^



POSSIBLE SHIFRNG OF REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT
TO PRIVATE ORGANIZATIONS



Y 4. J 89/1: 104-86

Possible Shifting of Refugee Resett. . .

HEARING

BEFORE THE

SUBCOMMITTEE ON
IMMIGRATION AND CLAIMS

OF THE

COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIAKY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

ONE HUNDRED FOURTH CONGRESS
SECOND SESSION




AUGUST 1, 1996



Serial No. 86



JAN J 6 /9<




rv**«^



inn t im



Printed for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary



U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
35-245 CC WASHINGTON : 1996



For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office
Superintendent of Documents, Congressi934JSi^^.Gtf5se^W.$«Mi5Stwi^ D£ 20402__
ISBN 0*fl 6-053708-8 -. - -«

GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS DEPT
\:, BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY '
700 Boylston Street .^^
JBostOD, MA 02117 i^



COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY



HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois, Chairman



CARLOS J. MOORHEAD, California
F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, Jr.,

Wisconsin
BILL McCOLLUM, Florida
GEORGE W. GEKAS, Pennsylvania
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
LAMAR SMITH, Texas
STEVEN SCHIFF. New Mexico
ELTON GALLEGLY. California
CHARLES T. CANADY, Florida
BOB INGLIS, South Carolina
BOB GOODLATTE. Virginia
STEPHEN E. BUYER, Indiana
MARTIN R. HOKE, Ohio
SONNY BONO, California
FRED HEINEMAN, North Carolina
ED BRYANT, Tennessee
STEVE CHABOT. Ohio
MICHAEL PATRICK FLANAGAN, Illinois
BOB BARR, Georgia



JOHN CONYERS, Jr., Michigan
PATRICIA SCHROEDER, Colorado
BARNEY FRANK, Massachusette
CHARLES E. SCHUMER, New York
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
RICK BOUCHER, Virginia
JOHN BRYANT, Texas
JACK REED, Rhode Island
JERROLD NADLER, New York
ROBERT C. SCOTT. Virginia
MELVIN L. WATT, North Carolina
XAVIER BECERRA, California
ZOE LOFGREN, California
SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas
MAXINE WATERS, California



Alan F. Coffey, Jr., General Counsel/ Staff Director
JUUAN Epstein, Minority Staff Director



SUBCOMMnTEE ON IMMIGRATION AND CLAIMS
LAMAR SMITH. Texas. Chairman



ELTON GALLEGLY, California
CARLOS J. MOORHEAD, California
BILL McCOLLUM, Florida
SONNY BONO, California
FRED HEINEMAN. North Carolina
ED BRYANT. Tennessee



JOHN BRYANT, Texas
BARNEY FRANK, Massachusetts
CHARLES E. SCHUMER, New York
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
XAVIER BECERRA, California



CORDIA A. Strom, Chief Counsel

Edward R. Grant, Counsel

George Fishman, Assistant Counsel

Marie McGlx)NE, Minority Counsel



(II)



CONTENTS



HEARING DATE



Page
August 1, 1996 1

OPENING STATEMENT

Smith, Hon. Lamar, a Representative in Congress from the State of Texas,
and chairman. Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims 1

WITNESSES

Condit, Hon. Gary, a Representative in Congress from the State of Califor-
nia 2

DefTenbaugh, Ralston, executive director, Lutheran Inunigration and Refugee

Service 26

Delahanty, Rev. Patrick, director. Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee
Services Department, Archdiocese of Louisville, KY 33

Gersten, Chris, director. Center for Jewish and Christian Values 14

Limon, Lavinia, Director, Office of Refugee Resettlement, Department of
Health and Human Services 5

Obey, Hon. David R., a Representative in Congress from the State of Wiscon-
sin 22

Silverman, Dr. Edwin, State refugee coordinator, Department of Public Aid .... 17

LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING

Condit, Hon. Gary, a Representative in Congress from the State of California:
Prepared statement 4

DefTenbaugh, Ralston, executive director, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee
Service: Prepared statement 27

Delahanty, Rev. Patrick, director, Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee
Services Department, Archdiocese of Louisville, KY: Prepared statement 36

Gersten, Chris, director. Center for Jewish and Christian Values: Prepared
statement 15

Limon, Lavinia, Director, Oflice of Refugee Resettlement, Department of
Health and Human Services:

Estimated fiscal year 1996 Federal domestic refugee resettlement costs ... 12
Prepared statement •• 7

Obey, Hon. David R., a Representative in Congress from the State of Wiscon-
sin: Prepared statement 24

Silverman, Dr. Edwin, State refugee coordinator. Department of Fhiblic Aid:

Prepared statement 18

APPENDDCES

Appendix 1. — Additional information from Reverend Delahanty regarding his

testimony 47

Appendix 2. — Letter dated July 25, 1996, with attachments, from Rev. Patrick
Delahanty 48

(III)



POSSIBLE SHIFTING OF REFUGEE RESETTLE-
MENT TO PRIVATE ORGANIZATIONS



THURSDAY, AUGUST 1, 1996

House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims,

Committee on the Judiciary,

Washington, DC.
The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 8:04 a.m., in room
2237, Raybum House Oflfice Building, Hon. Lamar Smith (chair-
man of the subcommittee) presiding.

Present: Representatives Lamar Smith, Ed Bryant of Tennessee,
and Fred Heineman.

Also present: George Fishman, assistant counsel; Judy Knott,
secretary; and Marie McGlone, minority counsel.

OPENING STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN SMITH

Mr. Smith. Good morning. The Subcommittee on Immigration
and Claims will come to order. Let me thank you all for turning
out for what is probably the earliest hearing this subcommittee has
ever conducted. I know it is not always at our convenience; it's not
even at my convenience, but we were, in effect, required to do so
by a rescheduling of a full committee markup at 10 o'clock this
morning. Therefore, we were presented with two options: one, can-
cel the hearing, which we were very hesitant to do, or two, meet
at 8 o'clock in the morning. We chose the latter. Once again, I greet
you this morning and thank you all for being here.

Today we are nolding a hearing on a program that I and my col-
leagues, David Obey and Gary Condit, believe is of great impor-
tance, the Department of Health and Human Services' Refugee Re-
settlement Program. HHS's Oflfice of Refugee Resettlement receives
about $400 million a year for a most important task: resettling ref-
ugees in the United States. The primary goal of resettlement is to
help refugees become self-suflRcient. Because refugees usually ar-
rive in America with few financial resources, this is a difficult task,
but it must be accomplished. Self-sufficiency is in the interest of
both refugees and the American public. Self-reliant refugees can
more fully participate in American life and, of course, will ease the
burden on taxpayers.

The primary mechanism for resettlement, since the Refugee Act
of 1980, has been State-administered and largely federally-funded
resettlement programs. Figures gleaned from the programs have
been troubling. ORR found in 1994 that 54 percent of refugee
households arriving since 1989 had received some type of cash pub-
lic assistance in the previous 12 months. The percentage of refu-

(1)



gees over 16 who were working was little more than half of the na-
tional average.

Some have pointed to private voluntary agencies, such as Catho-
lic Charities and the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service,
as the answer. There certainly have been encouraging results when
ORR has turned to these agencies to administer Federal resettle-
ment assistance under the Wilson/Fish demonstration projects and
the matching grant program. ORR went so far as to propose in
1992 that the entire refugee resettlement program nationwide be
retooled in the spirit of Wilson/Fish. The proposal was called the
Private Resettlement Program.

Under PRP, private voluntary agencies would be given fimding
by ORR to provide cash and medical assistance to refugees and
provide intensive case management. Moving refugees from State
welfare systems and putting a renewed emphasis on emplojonent
and personal accountability might lead to better results. Because
of an iniunction by a Federal court, we never were able to test this
proposal.

What is the best method for integrating refugees into American
society, letting them rebuild their lives, and making them self-suffi-
cient? Do private voluntary agencies hold the key, or are States
being judged by an unfair standard? The subcommittee will ad-
dress these questions today.

And, in that regard, we do have three panels, and we're going to
lead off with a friend and colleague and neighbor on the fourth
floor of Raybum, Gary Condit; but, Gary, if I could ask you to wait
one second, I just want to recognize Mr. Bryant and Mr. Heineman
and thank them specifically for being here so early in the morning.
The chairman of this subcommittee will remember which members
of the subcommittee were of greatest help in his time of greatest
need, and so I am indebted to you both for being here.

Gary, we'll recognize you and look forward to your comments.

STATEMENT OF HON. GARY A. CONDIT, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

Mr. Condit. Thank you Mr. Chairman. First of all, let me thank
you very much for holding the hearing, and I'm delighted — ^kind of
delighted — to be a part of this historical subcommittee meeting, the
first of its kind to meet at 8 o'clock in the morning. So, thanks for
letting me be here.

I have a statement that I would like to submit for the record,
and then I'm just going to paraphrase from my statement and tell
you my own story of what's happening in our community.

The refugees are unique in numbers and challenges. Their reset-
tlement is uniquely a Federal responsibility. Mr. David Obey and
myself have been working on a proposal to fundamentally change
the system. As Mr. Obey s proposal — and he has a written state-
ment, but he cannot be here this morning and I would request, if
I may, that he also have his statement entered into the record.

Mr. Smith. Without objection.

Mr. Condit. He has been, as you've mentioned, extremely active
in this issue. Mr. Obey's proposal, as explained in his written state-
ment, forces this issue a little bit and, I believe, puts us in a situa-
tion where refugees have the ability to become self-sufficient much



quicker and makes them have the opportunity to become produc-
tive citizens at a quicker pace; therefore, hopefully, saving money
and getting them into society and helping them out a great deal,
as well as the community.

In my own district, from 1991 to 1995, we received approximately
3,000 refugees and the impact to the community, as you can imag-
ine, is considerable. We take the refugees coming into the Central
Valley of California, particularly Merced County and Stanislaus
County in good spirit, but we do believe that it is a Federal respon-
sibility and that the Federal Government must own up to its re-
sponsibility in terms of assisting those people in the local commu-
nity to make sure that they're able to be a part of the community.
It doesn't do any of us any good to move these refugees into a com-
munity and just make them a prisoner of the bureaucracy and the
system. The people of the community begin to resent that, and it
does very little for the refugees themselves in terms of being part
of the community and being a part of this country. So it is ex-
tremely important that we own up to our Federal responsibility.

As we speak, we have 150 more Hmong coming to our district,
and we have had a difficult time in finding out information about
these 150 Hmong on their way to the district. They're coming to
be reunited with their families, and we totally support that; we're
for that. However, if we're going to assist these people in becoming
self-sufficient, I think it's incumbent upon us on the Federal level
to make sure that we change this program so that we try to remove
the burden on State and local governments and give some incentive
for these people to become more self-sufficient in a quicker manner.

Also, I would like to just acknowledge — and I do this in a spirit
of cooperation and trying to be as diplomatic as I possibly can be
about this — there seems to be a tremendous overlap of the bureauc-
racy as it relates to this program. It is very, very difficult to pin
anyone down on the Federal level about what's going on with the
refugees. We have called the State Department. The local govern-
ments in my communities have called the State Department and
HHS to try to find out information about when these people are ar-
riving. We have a very difficult time getting any satisfactory infor-
mation from those bureaucracies and those departments. We will
pick up the paper the next day, and it seems that the paper has
no difficulty in getting this information. But the local communities
and the Federal representative who represents those districts can't
seem to pin any information down. So, it seems to me we need to
do something about overlapping and about getting information
back to those of us who need the information to make preparations
for these people coming to our communities.

So with that, Mr. Chairman, I would only underscore the impor-
tance of this issue. The community that these people are coming
to, Merced County, which is going to receive the 150 and has the
bulk of the 3,000, 30 percent of tne population in Merced County
is on some sort of public assistance, which is a big problem for us
in Merced County. We have our unemployment rate down to 16.2
percent, so you can see the odds for these people when they get
there of being on public assistance or on the program for a long pe-
riod of time. And I think there ought to be some consideration
given.



4

You know we had Castle Air Base that just closed down, which
is a major economic impact for the local community and contributes
to the 16.2 percent unemployment rate, but also seasonal, agricul-
tural jobs. We are a seasonal, agricultural area, so our unemploy-
ment rate fluctuates and goes up beyond the 16.2 percent. But I
think those factors ought to be looked at as well. We're not suggest-
ing that they ought to be the factors that, you know, make the deci-
sion on whether or not people come there. I think the family ties
are obviously important, and we support people being united with
their families, but those are just a couple of statistics, I think, in
this program that ought to be looked at. And there ought to be
some consideration given to the fact that we've got 30 percent of
the people in the area already on some sort of public assistance,
and so that ought to be taken mto consideration.

And, with that, Mr. Chairman, I've tried to be brief and just sort
of underscore the problem we think we have in the Central Valley
of California. I know Mr. Obey has a similar problem, and we've
been working very closely witn Mr. Obey, who has been a leader
in this area on our side of the aisle, and we intend to be with him
through the remainder of this legislative session and into next year
to find out ways to change the system. And I would encourage you
to take a look at the proposal that he submitted to you as possibly
a way to fundamentally change the system. And, with that, if you
have any questions, I'll be delighted to answer them.

[The prepared statement of Mr. Condit follows:]

Prepared Statement of Hon. Gary A. Condh', a Representative in Congress
From the State of Caufornia

Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing to address an issue which is
of vital importance to many communities across the country. Although refugee ad-
missions are dwarfed by the numbers of other legal and illegal immigrants entering
our country, refugees are unique in many ways. They recjuire federal attention and
as Mr. Obey has identified, their resettlement and assimilation are a uniquely fed-
eral responsibility. I appreciate your efforts to look more closely at this situation.

I bring to this conversation first-hand experience of how the current resettlement
system works (or does not work as the case may be). Over the next several months,
approximately 150 Hmong refugees will be traveling to my district from Thailand
to be reunited with their families who have been resettled in the Central Valley of
California in several waves over the past twenty-five years. It is morally right for
us to reunite these individuals with their families. However, it is morally imperative
that we give them a fighting chance at self-sufficiency and that we do not unduly
burden states and localities with this federal responsibility.

In my district, refugees from Southeast Asia nave too often fallen into a cycle of
welfare dependency which places a great burden not only on the individuals them-
selves, but also on the local community. Merced County, where the overwhelming
majority of Hmong refugees in my district reside, has made great efforts to help as-
similate their new citizens. Not only has cash assistance been made available, but
classes and support for language skills, employment opportunities, and other cul-
tural assimilation have been instituted. The problem is tnat there is just not enough
funding for these programs. Federal assistance dries up remarkably quickly.

Despite the fact that the federal government has, in the past, made commitments
to fully suppx)rt refugee resettlement, this commitment has not been met for many
years. It is unconscionable for the federal government to place refugees in commu-
nities without providing resources for their resettlement. After all, the local commu-
nities had no role in the high-level foreign policy decisions which resulted in the ref-
ugee admissions. Communities such as Merced County, where over 30 percent of the
population is on some sort of public assistance and an agricultural employment
boom brings the unemployment rate down to 16.2 percent (T), simply cannot be ex-
pected to pick up the pieces when federal government assistance ceases.

It is clear to me, and many others, that our current system of a program here,
a targeted grant there, and a mish-mash of overlapping federal assistance programs



for a variety of time periods is simply not working. It does not work for the im-
pacted communities, and it does not work for the refugees. Mr. Obey has briefly pre-
sented an approach which I wholeheartedly endorse and hope will find its place in
next year's reauthorization of the Refugee Assistance Act. The draft proposal at
issue establishes a distinct one-year period of time during which the federal respon-
sibility for refijgees is complete and tne commitment to assimilation is strong. These
structural changes are necessary if we are to meet our obligations to all parties in-
volved.

I look forward to working with Mr. Obey and others to assure that this proposal
receives the Congress' full consideration and appreciate this opportunity to address
an issue which is very important to me and to my constituents.

Mr. Smith. Thank you, Mr. Condit.

Are there any questions, Mr. Bryant or Mr. Heineman?

Mr. Condit. Thank you very much.

Mr. Smith. Gary, thank you again. Let me say that your testi-
mony is even more critical because of your personal experience, and
when you speak from that basis, we will listen and act. So thank
you very much.

Mr. Condit. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Smith. I'd like to invite the second panel to come forward.
Actually, the panel consists of one individual who is coming for-
ward right now: Lavinia Limon — is that correct? .

Ms. Limon. Yes, that's correct.

Mr. Smith. Ms. Limon is Director of the Office of Refugee Reset-
tlement at the Department of Health and Human vServices.

Before you begin, let me follow up on what Mr. Condit just said
in regard to the interest by our friend and colleague, David Obey.
I will have to say to you, quite frankly, that we would not be here
today with a hearing on this subject were it not for David Obey and
his interest in this subject. Unfortunately — and I need to explain
this — ^he has both laryngitis and bronchitis and maybe something
more than that even, which is, unfortunately, requiring him to not
only miss votes on the House floor, but not be with us today. But
I do want to give him full credit for being the motivation behind
this meeting, and it is because of a conversation we had several
months ago — his expressing such a strong interest in this subject —
that we scheduled a hearing for today.

With that, if you would proceed, Ms. Limon.

STATEMENT OF LAVINIA LIMON, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF REFU-
GEE RESETTLEMENT, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND
HUMAN SERVICES

Ms. Limon. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate this oppor-
tunity to appear before you on behalf of the Department of Health
and Human Services to discuss the role of private organizations in
refugee resettlement.

I am responsible for administering the Refugee and Entrant As-
sistance Program. During the past 3 years, this administration has
worked closely with the States and the private sector in focusing
attention on the goal of economic self-sufficiency and social adjust-
ment for newly-arrived refugees. I would like to share some of the
positive changes we have been able to implement and discuss some
of our experiences in working with private organizations.

Since 1975, over 2 million refugees have been resettled in the
United States. The major goal of the refugee resettlement program
is to provide assistance to these refugees so that they can achieve



economic self-sufficiency and social adjustment within the shortest
time possible following their arrival in the United States. For fiscal
year 1996, approximately $417 million was available to serve refu-
gees through five different programs. One is the cash and medical
assistance program; the second one is the employment services pro-
gram. We have a preventive health service program, the voluntary
agency matching grant program, and the targeted assistance grant
program.

In 1995, we began sharpening our focus on newer refugee arriv-
als, stressing the need to provide refugee- specific, culturally and
linguistically appropriate services. Final regulations were pub-
lished which, for the first time, directed States to target refugee-
specific employment and other social adjustment services funded by
our social services and targeted assistance programs to refugees
and entrants who have been in the United States for less than 5
years. As a result of this change in direction, major funding shifts
have occurred in the program. For example, in fiscal year 1996, 18
counties no longer qualify for targeted assistance funds, while 15
new counties will receive this impact aid.

The domestic program also must be able to respond quickly, visi-
bly, and flexibly in providing refugee-specific services in response
to sudden refugee needs. Our new discretionary initiatives in pre-
ferred communities and unanticipated arrivals grant programs
have had an excellent start. These initiatives provide timely fund-
ing to public and private providers in order to respond to unfore-
seen refugee impacts. In addition, in coordination with the Depart-
ment of State and the public and private sectors, we have begun
a review of refugee placement planning, which will be the focus of
an effort to improve placement decisions.

At the State and local level, there has been a good deal of activ-
ity around creating alternative programs using the FishTWilson au-
thority. Under this authority, we develop alternative projects which
promote early employment of refugees. It provides to States, vol-
untary resettlement agencies, and others, the opportunity to de-
velop innovative approaches for the provision of cash and medical
assistance, employment services, and case management. Some
projects were established when the State government decided not
to continue administering the program, such as in Kentucky and
Nevada. And some projects are being established as refugee-specific
alternatives to categorical aid programs, such as AFDC.

In the Kentucky Fish/Wilson project, administered by Catholic
Charities, a private agency is running the refugee program for the
State. Six agencies in various communities throughout Kentucky


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Committee on the JPossible shifting of refugee resettlement to private organizations : hearing before the Subcommitee on Immigration and Claims of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, second session, August 1, 1996 → online text (page 1 of 13)