Office of Refugee Resettlement
ORR invited representatives of the major Refugee Program participants. These included the Board of Directors of SCORR and Refugee Coordinators from selected large States for a full-day meeting on December 16. Invited to join the State Coordinators on the afternoon of December 17 were representatives of the Department of State, State Refugee Health Coordinators and leaders of the National Refugee Resettlement Agencies (Volags) and of the national ethnic Mutual Assistance Associations.
This report is designed to familiarize those interested parties who did not attend with a sense of the discussions which took place.
There were four major topics at both sessions, including:
The Tuesday session concluded with a report from a representative of the Department of Health and Human Services on the Federal Government's plans for installing an electronic grants system in the near future.
Dr. Van Hanh opened the Mid-term Consultation by welcoming the attending State Coordinators. He explained that the consultation had been called to discuss new and evolving developments since the general ORR consultation last summer, and to follow up on other matters considered at the summer meeting.
The agenda, he said, reflected:
The UAC Program, like the Trafficking Program two years ago, has been assigned to ORR by the Congress. With respect to trafficking, he said, ORR expects to implement an outreach program in the near future to increase public awareness about trafficking in persons. "This national outreach effort," he said, "will be aimed at non-government organizations, voluntary agencies, mutual assistance associations, State and local social service providers, State and local law enforcement, the general public and other federal and State government officials." The outreach is expected to increase the number of trafficking victims who come forward for protection and assistance.
The Homeland Security Act and Unaccompanied Alien Children
Under Section 462 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, providing care for unaccompanied alien minors will transfer to ORR from the Immigration and Naturalization Service on March 1, 2003. This program at present provides care each year, much of it short-term, for approximately 5,000 children apprehended by INS agents, Border Patrol officers, or other law enforcement agencies. INS usually has approximately 600 alien children in shelter care. About 40 per cent are deported. Most of the rest are released to parents or responsible family members, may file a defensive claim of asylum, or seek other immigration relief. The average time for a child to remain in care is 34.2 days. The children are 85 percent males between 14 and 16 years old; only 15 percent are females. The population is largely Spanish-speaking, and is principally from Guatemala or Honduras; there are a few minors from China and India. Types of care currently provided by INS under contract range from foster care to shelter care to secure detention. ORR will be bound by previous agreements for provision of such care for the remainder of FY 2003 but is exploring the issue from a legal perspective. We are planning for the transfer, and will be exploring options for care, especially decreased use of secure detention and increased use of foster care.
Among the responsibilities of the Director of ORR under the new law are:
INS personnel now involved with the program will be transferred to ORR by March 1, 2003. Unexpended balances of appropriations, authorizations, allocations and other funds associated with the prior program will be transferred to ORR.
Volag representatives at the consultation expressed concern that an earlier version of the bill providing for paid legal representation had been dropped in the final version, but they pledged to work for inclusion through an amendment.
Marriage and Family Enrichment Projects
ORR's parent organization, the Administration for Children and Families, has allocated $300 million for its Healthy Family Initiative, of which $100M is to make pre- and post-marital courses available and to prevent divorce. In fiscal year 2002, $3 million in ORR formula social service funds were set aside to be used for these programs. Although ORR's Fiscal Year 2003 budget has not yet been approved by the Congress, when this is accomplished, ORR hopes to provide discretionary grants to further the voluntary agencies' program sites and to encourage the MAAs to establish the program in approximately five to fifteen sites.
Mr. Bussert began his presentation by introduced the problem of an increasing divorce rate. The following were key points raised:
ORR has prepared a booklet with a list of resources on the topic. The booklet also contains a list of website addresses of the most prominent programs. Typically the cost for marriage courses is between $200 and $400 per couple.
Questions and Answers
Q: Is there an
initiative that addresses the challenges between children and their
parents and the issue of general breakdowns?
Q: Does ORR have
data and statistics of this problem among the refugee population?
Q: These studies
(mentioned) were undertaken with American families. There are concerns
of "Americanizing" refugee populations' marriages and enforcing
American marriage standards on those populations. Are there cross-cultural
programs with regard to this and have pilot programs included refugee
On December 16, Refugee Coordinators heard a presentation by Dr. Daniel Van Lehman and Omar Ono, himself a Somali Bantu, who have worked extensively with Bantus in Africa. Their presentation, drawn from a detailed report they prepared for the Center for Applied Linguistics under a Department of State contract, is available at www:culturalorientation.net. It provides a broad background of Bantu history, culture, religion, daily life, values, language and literacy, education, and cross-cultural challenges including housing.
They noted that Bantu are eager to work and have skills in mechanics, small-scale farming, and construction. They practice traditional beliefs and primitive health care approaches in tandem with Islam. They have little formal education. Their style of communication with interviewers will pose problems and "only after long conversations with many follow-up questions can appropriate information be obtained." However, they are seen as open and honest with their answers. Dr. Van Lehman cautioned that service providers should not assume that there would be immediate trust and respect between the Bantu and previously arrived refugees from Somalia. "Resettlement professionals should use the same caution and sensitivity .with the Bantus and Somalis that they use with other ethnic groups with a history of contentious relations."
On the following day, the larger group of attendees, through a panel discussion, considered other Bantu issues. Jill Esposito of the Department of State's Bureau for Refugee Programs said that about 1,000 Bantus are currently in post-INS processing in Africa, with the hope that they will arrive in the U.S. in the spring of 2003. Kelly Gauger of the same office said a list of cluster sites for Bantus would be distributed shortly to State Coordinators, and that potentially large "soft cross-reference groups may indicate groups larger than 200 people each." It is not yet known how the groups will be allocated for resettlement, she said. Cultural orientation will be more extensive for Bantus, with 80 hours of training planned, including specific training for women and in literacy.
Dr. Tsehaye Teferra, director of Ethiopian Community Development Council in Arlington, VA, whose agency is both a mutual assistance association and a volag, discussed his work as head of a Somali Bantu task force. He reported that his group had considered potential placement locations and would make its report available shortly. A colleague, Erol Kekic, Associate Director of Church World Service, said that 34 sites had been identified, utilizing a questionnaire, to determine availability of such resources as social services, housing and employment. Feedback from State Coordinators will be sought, he said.
Representing State Refugee Coordinators on the panel, Norman Nakamura of Utah raised the issue of placement strategies being sensitive to the historic uniqueness of the Bantu and their long history of oppression. He expressed concern about how religious issues of Bantus being resettled in large numbers in various sites would be considered.
In a discussion which followed:
2003 SOCIAL SERVICE ALLOCATIONS
The focus of this session was to discuss the allocation of formula FY 2003 refugee social service funds to States. By statute, this allocation must relate to refugee arrivals in the States during the prior three years. However, relatively low refugee arrivals during FY 2002 have created complex problems for FY 2003.
A Proposed Notice of Social Service Allocation will be published after ORR receives its FY 2003 appropriation. The President's 2003 budget proposal for ORR, forwarded to the Congress, requested an appropriation of $151.1 million for social services.
Currently, there are several allocation issues for consideration:
With respect to refugee arrivals, ORR has been working with the Department of State (DOS) to get arrival data on an accelerated basis. There had been a delay in getting information for several months due to a data system change at DOS. Information now available includes the following:
There are several ways to minimize the impact of the low arrivals. At present, consideration is being given by ORR for use of one of the following options:
The main goal is to assist States and local agencies currently being impacted by the low arrivals. If the appropriation is reduced, low funding levels could have a negative effect on the State social service infrastructure and a "domino effect" could occur affecting all levels of service delivery.
Questions and Answers:
The Georgia Coordinator asked if the low number of arrivals will continue. Dr. Van Hanh replied that new national security measures slow arrivals. ORR does not expect this problem to be resolved quickly, he said. It would probably takes 2 to 3 years to return to the pre-9/11 rate of arrivals. Related to the problem of low arrivals is a question of equitable allocation among States to maintain the program. Dr. Van Hanh said it is ORR's intent and commitment to maintain the national and State structures of the Refugee Program.
The Florida Coordinator said low arrival numbers among Cuban-Haitian entrants due to security measures has affected the service delivery system in Miami, but the magnitude has yet to be seen.
The Utah Coordinator suggested decreasing discretionary funding and the amount of set-asides and special projects, thereby increasing funding available for social services allocation.
The Arizona Coordinator said that preserving a national structure/network is important, specifically for the resettlement of special population such as the Somali Bantu, which requires the lead by the national network.
Dr. Van Hanh said other options for calculating the social services formula might include:
Carmel Clay-Thompson, ORR Deputy Director, pointed out that carryover funds must be used first to cover States' CMA costs before they can be used for any other purposes. Low arrivals could result in low appropriations. Earmarks are Congressional add-ons to the budget, and must be complied with; ORR could not award earmarked funds through normal allocations.
The Utah Coordinator noted that lately, a resettlement trend appears to be secondary migration from large states to small states or towns. There is need to examine long term strategic planning for resettlement, he said.
Ms. King, a computer analyst with the Department of Health and Human Services, presented information regarding a forthcoming government-wide transition from paper applications to electronically submitted applications.
A web site will be created, she explained, where prospective grantees can search for Federal funding opportunities meeting their needs and eligibility. The site will make it possible for applicants to obtain information on programs and grant application packages, and to submit applications directly to the funding agencies.
To help prospective grantees identify federal funding opportunities, a pilot project began in July 2002. In January 2003, applicants will be able to search online for opportunities to apply for funds. October 2003 is targeted as the month for the service to be fully operational
The principal components of applications submitted under the E-Grant Program will include core applicant information, a budget, a project narrative, and any required attachments. In addition to the "core" information, agency-specific information will also be submitted electronically to the proposed funding agency. The goal is promoting a more uniform application and efficient processing for applicants and Federal agencies. Applicants will need to obtain an identifying Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number for both electronic and paper applications.
The State, Local and Non-Profit Subcommittee of the Inter-Agency Electronic Grants Committee is providing input to the E-Grants process and sharing information a about electronic grants solutions across grant recipient populations for State, local and non-profit organizations.
Questions and Answers:
Q: How will the
DUNS number operate? Will all of an agency's accounts be represented
by one DUNS number?
Q: Will DUNS replace
Q: Are e-grants
an option or must agencies discontinue using paper grant applications?
Q: Where can an
agency obtain a DUNS number.
Q: How will the
issues of signatures and certifications be addressed?
Q: Would funding
opportunities still appear in the Federal Register?
Pilot programs can be found on the web at www.grants.gov
CLOSING SESSION AND COMMENTS
Dr. Van Hanh led the closing session in which he invited questions and comments from the participants as follows:
Q: What is the
Administration's financial request for Preventive Health in the FY 2003
budget? And what is the purpose of next month's meeting on mental health?
Q: ORR referenced
the three pillars of resettlement (States, Volags, and MAAs). The MAAs
would like to see actions to strengthen the MAAs, such as a set-aside
that would make MAAs fuller partners.
Comment: Funding and training for ethnic organizing is needed by MAAs.
Comment: 9/11 had
a negative effect on the refugee integration process. Refugees are pulling
back from mainstream organization in fear.
Comment: The MAAs and the Volags applaud the transition of the unaccompanied alien minors to ORR because we believe they will receive better care.
In concluding the two-day meeting, Dr. Van Hanh: