“I saw first-hand the flagrant abuses and scams that permeate the refugee program.”
(Mary Doetsch, retired Foreign Service Officer)
Mary Doetsch is a retired US State Department Foreign Service officer who spent eight years (of a 25-year career) as a Refugee Coordinator serving on four continents.
As someone who has worked on the inside, her op-ed at the Washington Examiner today carries more weight than anything I could ever write as an outsider looking in!
US refugee program needs a complete overhaul
Ms. Doetsch opines (emphasis is mine):
During my career in the State Department, I became a refugee coordinator in the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, or USRAP, because I wanted to help and support persecuted persons in legitimate need of international protection. But the pervasive fraud I saw during my eight years in the field was alarming.
It cries out for a fix, and President Trump might just be the person to do it.
Undoubtedly, many individuals who work within the refugee field have humanitarian aims. But refugee resettlement has morphed into a numbers-driven, financially motivated business, growing blindly at the expense of the American public and our national security.
There once was a time when private charities, civic groups and faith-based organizations provided the bulk of funds and volunteers to resettle and help assimilate refugees in the United States. Today’s deeply flawed system relies almost exclusively on nine federal contractors (paradoxically referred to as “Voluntary Agencies” or VOLAGS) to resettle refugees.
The contractors have a vested interest in processing ever-larger numbers of applicants, since they make money on every refugee settled. And as non-governmental organizations they can and do lobby for advantageous changes to law, something they could not do if they were government agencies. Their lobbying umbrella wields enormous influence over refugee admissions policy, pressuring Congress and the bureaucracy to increase admissions and provide ever greater funding. They stage political rallies, file lawsuits against unfavorable policies, and lobby for causes that coincidentally help their bottom lines, yet this linkage is rarely, if ever, mentioned.
This isn’t just important from the oft-discussed security perspective, but also because of the rampant fraud and abuse that has permeated this program for generations.
As a former Refugee Coordinator who served throughout the Middle East, Africa, Russia and Cuba, I saw first-hand the flagrant abuses and scams that permeate the refugee program. I witnessed widespread exploitation and misuse, from identity fraud to marriage and family relation scams, and from private individuals profiting from their involvement in USRAP to distortion of the actual refugee definition to ensure greater numbers of people who should really just be migrants are admitted as refugees.
While refugee admissions have been declining under the Trump administration, without structural reform in the USRAP these numbers could again skyrocket under a new administration more favorable to the refugee industry.
Midway into fiscal year 2018, fewer than a quarter of the 45,000 individuals proposed in the FY18 refugee ceiling have entered the country. This slow-down in admissions may reduce the problem of fraud, but it cannot be eliminated without a complete overhaul of the program.
I’ve only snipped a portion of Doetsch’s op-ed, click here to read it all.
What you can do….
Contact the White House and tell the President it is now or never to overhaul the US Refugee Admissions Program, or once out of office the program will go back in to high gear. Reducing numbers for a few years is not enough!