GAO: Huge numbers of Special Immigrant Visa holders not finding work

But a big problem, says the General Accounting Office , is that neither the US State Department or the Office of Refugee Resettlement in HHS are doing much to track the outcomes of those admitted to the US from Iraq and Afghanistan who supposedly worked for us as interpreters.

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I told you here recently that the number admitted to the US from those two violent countries is pushing 70,000 in the last ten years.

As Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders they are treated as full-fledged refugees with all the welfare benefits other refugees receive.

We have been told that the resettlement contractors*** are relying on these paying clients to keep federal dollars flowing to their budgets as the refugee flow they hoped for is not materializing.

Some members of Congress must have requested this GAO study because problems are obviously brewing with this portion of our ‘welcome’ to Middle Eastern Muslims.  I did not read the whole report, here, but it seems that there are some pretty disillusioned SIVs who thought they would have good jobs and decent housing when they got here.

Here are a few snips from the summary:

Not exactly a bombshell title:

AFGHAN AND IRAQI SPECIAL IMMIGRANTS: More Information on Their Resettlement Outcomes Would Be Beneficial

 

What GAO Found

Since fiscal year 2011, about [about?—ed] 13,000 Afghan and Iraqi nationals (excluding family members) have resettled in the United States under special immigrant visas (SIV), but limited data on their outcomes are available from the Department of State (State) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). State collects data on SIV holders’ resettlement outcomes once—90 days after they arrive. GAO’s analysis of State’s data from October 2010 through December 2016 showed that the majority of principal SIV holders—those who worked for the U.S. government—were unemployed at 90 days, including those reporting high levels of education and spoken English.

 

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Very high unemployment rate at 90 days. Why is 90 days important? That is when their resettlement contractor is done with them and has moved on to the next batch of paying clients (aka refugees).  By 90 days the SIV is expected to be self-sufficient.  BTW, don’t you wonder who the 1,760 “interpreters” without “good spoken English” are?

 

GAO continues…

Stakeholders [must be referring to the resettlement contractors—ed] GAO interviewed reported several resettlement challenges, including capacity issues in handling large numbers of SIV holders, difficulties finding skilled employment, and SIV holders’ high expectations.

Officials from local resettlement agencies in Northern Virginia reported capacity challenges for their agencies and the community due to the large increase of SIV holders. In almost all of GAO’s focus groups with principal SIV holders, participants expressed frustration at the need to take low-skilled jobs because they expected that their education and prior work experience would lead to skilled work. [You can bet they aren’t going to the slaughterhouse jobs where contractors like to place those in their care.—-ed]

State and HHS have taken steps to address some resettlement challenges. For example, in 2017 State placed restrictions on where SIV holders could resettle and HHS announced a new grant to support career development programs for SIV holders, refugees, and others.

In addition, State provides information to prospective SIV holders about resettlement. However, the information is general, and lacks detail on key issues such as housing affordability, employment, and available government assistance. Providing such specifics could lead to more informed decisions by SIV holders on where to resettle and help them more quickly adapt to potential challenges once in the United States.  [I don’t think that GAO knows that the SIVs original resettlement location is not chosen by the refugees, but by the State Department in conjunction with contractors*** as they bid for bodies (aka paying clients).—ed]

In light of so many disillusioned and unemployed SIVs, I sure hope that someone is reporting that news to others in the pipeline on their way to America!

Why the discrepancy in the numbers?

I wondered if GAO is downplaying the numbers on purpose…. were they as shocked as we are to find these enormous numbers?

In the summary, GAO talks about 13,000 SIVs since 2011, excluding family members, but in the full report they describe the real numbers we have placed in your towns and cities.

And, rather than saying “over 60,000”, they could have said closer to 70,000!  As I reported early this month, using data readily available at the State Department’s Refugee Processing Center (Wrapsnet), we admitted from FY2008-right up to my post on March 8th, the numbers as follows:

Iraq: 18,084

Afghanistan:  49,358

Total to March 8th: 67,442

When I went to the full report they say this (below) on Page 1, but once again use the word “about.”  They do clarify one point:  “about 20,000” are the people who worked for us or on behalf of us, the remaining, over 40,000! are their family members.

Afghan and Iraqi nationals who were employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government in Afghanistan or Iraq and have experienced ongoing serious threats as a consequence of such employment, or who worked directly with the U.S. Armed Forces or under chief of mission authority as a translator or interpreter, may apply for a special immigrant visa (SIV) to the United States.

Upon securing a visa, the principal SIV holder and his or her eligible dependents may resettle in the United States and are granted lawful permanent resident status upon admission into the United States. Since fiscal year 2008, over 60,000 individuals—about 20,000 principal SIV holders and their families—have been admitted under SIVs and received federal resettlement assistance upon arrival.

SIV holders are authorized to receive resettlement assistance from the Departments of State (State) and Health and Human Services (HHS), as well as federal public benefits, to the same extent and for the same periods of time as refugees.

 

***These are the nine federal contractors working with the US State Department to place the SIVs and their families. Although GAO seems to have been fixated on how poorly the State Department and ORR are keeping track of the SIVs and their progress toward assimilation, it seems to me that the contractors should come in for more blame if their charges are doing so poorly.

The number in parenthesis is the percentage of the nine VOLAGs’ income paid by you (the taxpayer) to place the refugees, line them up with jobs, and get them signed up for their services!  From most recent accounting, here.

 


Click here to read the full article on its original website.