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tv   U.S. Conference of Mayors Discussion on Refugee Resettlement  CSPAN  January 27, 2016 11:00pm-12:04am EST

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constructive meeting. he said he talked about range of are things including things like foreign policy, domestic policy and occasionally a bit of politics. there's no question they talked a little bit about where they agree and presumably there might have been some discussion where they disagreed but they certainly didn't highlight that and senator sanders seemed pretty pleased to have had the chance to sit down and talk with the president, and really emphasize to reporters how he had supported the president for the most part over the last seven years. that certainly if hillary clinton is giving the president a big hug by talking about how she served in his captain and wants to contin cabinet and wants to continue his politics senator sanders was giving him a warm handshake in the comments he was making. >> the president remained neutral but the president had high praise for hillary clinton in a podcast released earlier
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this week by politico? >> yes. so in this podcast interview, the president really emphasized that hillary clinton had the pragmatism and the experience that would serve her well, particularly when you have to juggle multiple tasks as president. and that's kind of what he emphasized, and specifically when glen thrush of politico asked the president, is bernie sanders and analog of yourself from 2008, the president said, no. and then he repeated it again, and so he was really taking pains to make it distinction between kind of the reception he got from young people in the democratic party in 2008 and what bernie sanders is seeing eight years later. >> in one of the ironies of the interview he made reference to the shiny object and of course in 2008 he was the new kid on the block, and now you have a 74-year-old self-described socialist democrat who is the shining object against hillary clinton. >> yeah. it is really quite interesting.
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i mean, the idea that, you know, bernie sanders at this point, someone who spent much of his life in public service is suddenly seen as the new, fresh thing. it's certainly amusing and you even saw this in the press briefing today where the press secretary josh earnest walked out saying, feeling the burn? it's almost comical. the idea that -- that, you know, that bernie sanders has suddenly become kind of the hot, new prospect within the democratic party, but, again in some ways the white house is acknowledge this is the case even as the president and aides make it clear they don't think this is the person who ultimately voters should side with. >> nevertheless, senator sanders, two separate events in minnesota, a total of 20,000 people in attendance, in polls showing that he maintain as lead in iowa and continues a double-digit lead in some polls in new hampshire. so my question is, how did the democratic party get to this point and bernie sanders reach
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this level so close to the iowa caucuses and the new hampshire primary? >> an interesting question and we frankly don't have the answer frankly at this point. part of it, the same way we're certainly seeing voters' frustration on the republican side really manifest itself in the republican primary, there is a level of frustration, which to some extent is understandable given the fact the economic recovery is not felt evenly across the united states and across all classes and the thought that frankly you know, after eight years of anyone, you often have a desire by voters to try something else, and i think a couple of are those things, and the fact that, you know, hillary clinton has her the liabilities, whether you're talking about the scandal over her private e-mail server or the fact that she did take these it enormous speaking fees from whether it's goldman sachs or other, you know, wealthy corporations, or associations. you know, there is some baggage that she has even as the
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democratic front-runner and so it's understandable that someone with a different message, a more radical message, would track support, particularly among the very liberal primary electorate in places like iowa. >> and one final point on the relationship or lack thereof between senator sanders and the president. you did point out in your story today that senator obama campaigned for bernie sanders back in march of 2006. any other insights into this relationship? >> well, really, i have to say in some ways we would joke that this is almost a seinfeldian story about nothing, but there really has almost no rapport. they barely served together in the senate. and partially the president who doesn't have great relations with lawmakers including democrats to begin with barely has engaged with senator sanders, because senator sanders was usually not at a central point in key legislative
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initiatives the president has pushed for. so they've had some discussions, whether it's over the iran nuclear deal, whether it's over veterans affairs, but they just -- they haven't collaborated deeply on any single policy matter. >> and more details available online at washington juliette eilper from the washington post joining us here in the newsroom. thank you for being with us. >> thank you, steve. i appreciate it. during campaign 2016, c-span takes you on the road to the white house, as we follow the candidates on c-span, c-span radio and c next, a discussion on the nation's refugee resettlement system and welcoming communities initiative. this was part of the u.s. conference of mayors winter meeting. it's an hour.
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>> okay. let's go ahead and get started. i want to particularly thank everyone for being here today. it is a, everyone else is heading out of town and actually coming in to washington today, i certainly appreciate you all being here. we're going to try to start on time here. 9:30. try to finish on time at 10:30, because i know a lot of you have flights and whatnot you have to catch to get out of town. my name is tom tait, i'm the mayor of anaheim, california. we're a city in southern california of about 350,000 people. one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the united states, and i aamco chair of the immigration task force for the u.s. conference of mayors. we have a new, i have a new co-chair this year, jorge eloorz
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sa. jorge is the mayor, relatively new mayor of providence, rhode island where he's a harvard graduate and decided to come back to his hometown of providence to -- and is elected mayor just last year. jorge would have been here, except he feels he needs to be back in town to make sure that snow gets removed from the roads. so i applaud that. one thing in anaheim ke donwe d have to worry about. i got that going for me. we are -- we are both committed to bipartisan immigration reform. and anything we can do here at the u.s. conference of mayors to make that happen, i'm a republican. jorge is a democrat, and as mayors do, we deal with these issuesen 0 the ground, and anything we can do that move that ball forward to get immigration reform, we will do. let's see. today we are going to discuss
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two important topics. the primary topic is the nation's refugee resettlement system. it became very clear this last fall after the tragic events in paris and san bernardino that a lot of people don't know much about a refugee resettlement process. how individuals qualify to become refugees, how they are vetted, and how they get into our communities. we have key officials from three federal agencies that comprise that system, and they will provide us with a primer of how that system operates. but first, however, we'll hear from president obama special assistant for immigration policy who will update us on the president's welcome communities initiative and then we'll become a discussion on refugee resettlement. so i would like to first introduce felicia escobar to my right. a special assistant to the president for immigration policy, felicia develops a present century for building a 21st century system.
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across the branch to strengthening the system and working towards passage of meaningful passage of meaningful legislation. before comes to the white house she worked in the senate, first for senator tom daschle and then kim salazar. felicia, thank you for taking the time to be here and the floor the yours. >> thank you for this commitment, the task force staying in town. i know you will want to get back to warm and sunny weather soon, and for all of your commitment over the years in helping support the presidential work and the congress' work to pass immigration reform. we all know we're continuing to look for legislative action in that space. we had a good bill that went through in 2013. we weren't able to get that through the senate. and so -- or through the house, i'm sorry. so we're continuing our efforts to focus on fixing as much of the system as we can within the existing laws. and so i'm going to sayalities about the welcoming community's
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campaign, but before that i just would remark that there -- this was a week of, in terms of the president's other executive actions that he's been working on, his different action policies, and some of you may know the supreme court is going to hear our appeal of the injunction that was placed on the deferred action for parents of u.s. citizens program. the dapa program. we know that a number of mayors, not everyone, but a number of mayors did sign on to a brief in support of that program, because you all know just like with immigration reform, bringing people out of the shadows actually helps with public safety, helps with the economy, helps people feel more comfortable talking to law enforcement. we will see where the litigation goes but expect in the spring for there to be, for there to be a hearing, more amicus briefs filed and then, you know, eventually a decision in june. so we'll see where that goes. i just wanted to remark on that, and thank you all for, all of
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you who have been able to sign on to amicus briefs. thank you for your support. in terms of the other executive actions the president announced, that we announced last, in november of 2014, actually the creation of a task force on new americans are really building on the work that's already happening at the local level and at the say the level to some extent as well. to really try to create communities that are welcoming, thinking about immigrant and refugee integration. we are thinking about citizenship and making sure people who are eligible know about the process and will make the decision on their own, whether they want to apply, thinking about immigrants as important parts of the economy, and as important parts of the local workforce. in create businesses, they are working in various industries and we aunt to continue to support them. the task force is also focused on the economic integration of immigrants and refugees, and then finally it's also a focus on the linguistic immigration of
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immigrants. we know that english is the language of opportunity here. we want people to retain and, their language they come with, but we also know that in order to help move up the economic ladder, it's really important that people learn english. so there's a lot of work we've been doing with the department of education in particular to pro moat best practicing that are happening at the local le l and i was going to talk mainly an the welcoming committee's community work we're doing, another tier of work with the task force on new americans. the work we're doing is really in partnership of the agencies part of the task force on new americans but also nonprofits out of government who have been working with cities and ngos and many others across the country to really promote welcoming communities. so we launched in september, last september, the building welcoming communities campaign
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and really it's an effort to encourage folks that are already doing this work to take it to the next level, be very strategic about the work that they're doing by developing local immigrant and refugee integration plans that really look across all sectors. we want the education community, with the labor, and work force and business community involved. we need to bring immigrant groups and refugee groups together, they don't always talk to each other but have similar barriers and concerns, all to the table to create, to create local plans that really work strategically and can help advance communities. so that's work we're continuing to support through this campaign and we want other people to join the campaign if they can. we have 48 communities that are already a part of the campaign and over the next several months we will be organizing regional communions around the country to highlight best practices of folks who are already a part of our welcoming committee's campaign and also encouraging others to come to the table as well. so we're going to be having a
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meeting next week in los angeles. the great that the city of los angeles is involved but we know there are a lot of little towns in, and not so little towns, in the area around los angeles, and so we were want to encourage others to come to the table as well. and we, as i mentioned, we're not doing this work alone. we're doing this work with the cities that are already involved, but also national experts, and i would just mention that welcoming america an organization that has been working over the last several years to promote this work is our formal national partner and a woman from the d.c. office is actually here today. we have materials about the welcoming community's campaign. i have a map that is up on the white house website. so if something that we were trying to make sure we're promoting the folks already with us, we have a fact sheet and a commitment form for folks that want to learn more or are already interested in joining the campaign to come to the
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table and be a part of it and we have some of those that she can hand out to folks after, or before, the meeting. but i would say that when we launched this campaign in november of 2014, we were excited about it. but we didn't necessarily know what the world would bring. right? that the world events would bring in terms of really needing to promote this work in a, in a proactive way, because of the negative rhetoric out there. and, really, over the last several months with the, with the attacks that happened across the world, in paris and other parts of the world, and the concerns about the refugee process, and the questions about whether we should still accept refugees really made us -- really excited that we were visionary and thought about creating this task force even before things like that happened. that -- that make people question whether we want immigrants or refugees in our communities. so as we know, there's a lot of negative rhetoric out there, and
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our job is to really help people understand the facts about our refugee system and about all of our immigration systems. so i'm glad my colleagues from across the administration are here to walk you through some of that, and also, you know, as we try to promote a more inclusive and welcoming climate, we want to give people tools to pro actively, pro actively address issues and bring people together rather than divide people which is really what the welcoming community's campaign is all about. if you all are looking for things it to do that are positive and pro active we encourage you to be a part of the welcoming community's campaign. all federal agencies involved in the campaign. u.s. department of homeland security, department of labor, department of education, state, so many others, that are also trying to provide technical assistance and tools to people at the local level as they're grappling with whatever issue they're grappling with,
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including a crises that none of us can predict. right? so i would just leave is at that for now and am happy to answer more questions. really the stars of the hour are my colleagues from the department of state, department of homeland security and health and human services that are going to walk you through the refugee, the refugee resettlement process, and hopefully give you good facts to take back, because we know there's a lot of rumors and myths out there. e were want to make sure we're giving people the right information. i would just say that, you know, the president has been very clear that we, that he believes that our country has to live up to its legacy as a nation of immigrants and a nation that welcomes those fleeing persecution. we can do that. at the same time that we also make sure that we're securing our country and securing the american public from danger. so we believe we can do both. we're a big, federal groft. like you all, we all have to do as local governments, you all
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have to do 20 things at a time every day. the same applies for us. so we want to make sure we give you all the tools to help give your folks back home some information about the process. so maybe i'll turn it over to simon. >> very good. well, before we do that, any questions on welcoming communities before we go into the refugee resettlement? any questions? felicia, thank you so much. so let me go ahead and introduce the next three panelists. simon henshaw is a career officer with the u.s. foreign service. currently serving at principle deputy assistant secretary of the bureau of population refugees and migration. since he joined the state department in 1985 he has carried out a number of assignments and overseas postings and here in washington. barbara strack, to my left, joined u.s. citizenship and immigration services at chief of the refugee affairs division in november of 2005. there she managing the refugee corps and headquarter s staff t
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support refugee missions. the mission s practice. prior to that, served in the policy office at the former immigration and naturalization service, working as counsel to the u.s. senate subcommittee and the practicing law in washington for a washington, d.c. firm. bob carey, also to my left, directs the office, resettlement in administration for children and families and the department of health and yuman services. he came to orr from the international rescue committee where he held several key executive positions. most recently vice president of migration policy and responsible for leading the advocacy on immigration, and development policy issues. before that he served ten years of vice president of resettlement overseeing irc's assistant to refugees. start with simon to my right.
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welcome. >> thank you very much, mayor. a pleasure to be here. thank you for the warm introduction. and thanks to all of you for braving the weather. in any of you are from the north, as i am, and you're planning to stay the weekend, you're in for a treat. [ laughter ] there are nearly 20 million refugees in the world. the vast majority of these refugees will receive support in the country to which they fled until they can voluntarily and safely return home. in facts, i want to make this point, though it's not the main point of today's meeting, the vast amount from the u.s. government, the vast effort we make when it comes to refugees is supporting them overseas. a small number of refugees may be allowed to become citizens in the countries to which they fled, but an even smaller number primary those who are the most vulnerable, will be resettled in a third country.
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however, fewer than 1% of all refugees are eventually resettled in third countries, but of this 1%, the u.s. takes over half. the crisis in syria is a dramatic illustration of the humanitarian situation refugees face. syrians are now the largest refugee population in the world, numbering over 4 million. another 7.6 million fled their homes when trying to survive inside syria. the government of turkey estimates that it now hosts almost 2 million syrians. many more are spread over jordan, egypt, lebanon and iraq. in fact, 25% of lebanon's population now is syrian refugees. the united states has provided over $4.5 billion in humanitarian assistant in the region since the beginning of the crisis, including basics my
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food, shelter and education. while our main effort is supporting syrian refugees in the region we will resettle a small percentage in the u.s., and as i said before, our program will be aimed at resettling the most vulnerable members of our population as well as demonstrating support for those overburdened by my numbers of refugee. while maintaining the leadership role and protection, an int troll spart to make sure opportunities were only presented to those eligible for such protection and who are not known to present a risk to the safety and security of our country. our number one concern is security. according there, the program is committed to do deterring and detecting fraud among those seeking to resettle in the united states, and ap pla captains to the program are subject to more intensive screening than any other type of traveller to the u.s., in order to protect against threats to
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our national security. the department of state collaborates with the department of homeland security on this, and also collaborates closely with the centers for disease control and protection. to protect the health of u.s.-bound refugees and the u.s. public. our refugee resettlement program is premised on the idea refugees should become economically self-sufficient as quickly as possible. the department of state works domestically with agencies participating in the program to ensure refugees receive services in the first 30 to 90 days after arrival in accordance with established standards. during and after this initial resettlement period, the office of refugee resettlement at the department of health and human services led by mr. carey provides leadership, technical assistance and funding the states, the district of columbia and nonprofit organizations to help refugees become self-sufficient and integrated into u.s. society. upon arrival, refugees are
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immediately eligible for an employment. and after one year i require to apply for just this status to that of lawful permanent residence. five years after admission, the refugee has been granted permanent status as eligible to apply tore citizenship. the vast majority go on to lead productive lives. some serve in the u.s. military and undertake other forms of service for their communities and our country. while as we were all aware, the program has become controversial in some circles, in fact it continues to enjoy substantial support from state and local governments as well as community members in the vast majority of the locations where we work. which is in 48 states, 173 cities and towns, and 304 sights. as a public/private partnership it requires the support of american non-governmental
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organizations, charities, faith-based groups and hows of volunteer, and supporters of the program in hundreds of communities across the country. we simply could no not do this without this support. in closing, let me thank you for your support. starting new in the united states may be daunting it also offers hope and unparalleled opportunity. it is a chance not only to escape from violence and persecution but to start again. the assistance your can communities pries help newcomers lose their footing and back a part of the community. they aren't the only that benefit. they add to america's talent and diversity and makes substantial picks contributions to our cultural life. thank you very much. >> thank you, simon. you know, why don't we have before we take individual questions, why don't we go through the other guests? barbara, would you like to? >> thank you very much, and thank you so much for the
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invitation to be here today and meet with this conference and your guests. as the mayor mentioned in the introduction, i work for u.s. citizenship and immigration services. we are an agency within the department of homeland security, and particularly where's to refugee resettlement were, e the operation's settlement. one of the things i have learned to emphasize in talking about refugee resettlement in the last few months is the fact that as simon describes the vast number of refugees in the world and the very small number of refugees for april to avail themselves of resettlement, i think one of the things port to remember is really the united states decides which refugees we choose to offer resettlement too. it's really not a situation where the refugees themselves have the opportunity, in most instances, to say they would like to come to the united
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states. in the first instance we are working with the united nations, refugee agency in terms of applying the criteria of who are the most vulnerable and who are the candidates for resettlement to the united states? what people in my office do, most of them are based here in washington. but we work closely with the state department staff and we fan out around the world to the locations where refugees live, and we conduct in-person interviews in those locations. we are typically in any quarter of the fiscal year, we'll be in 12 to 15 different locations around the world, we're in asia and africa, the middle east, europe. so we try to go where the refugees are and where the need for resettle is the greatest. we've put a tremendous emphasis on the training that those officers receive. so they receive basic training and protection law, but they will also receive very detailed information about the particular population that they're going to
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be working with. i'm sorry. am i too close to the microphone? thank you. so what we're dock at thoing at interviews. two things. determining if the person a refugee under u.s. law? we ask questions whether they have suffered persecution or have a well-founded fear of prosecution. the other thing we're doing, checking whether they are add miserable to the united states under immigration law, dealing with things if someone has a criminal history. if they might have a communicable disease, a large amount of ground visabilities and explore that in the one-on-one interview with the applicants. the other thing we do in the background while -- administering the security checks, that simon alluded to. and -- these security checks have been in place for refugee
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applicants since the immediate wake of september 11. there actually was a pause in refugee admissions back in 2001 while the white house, the national security counsel, took a look at the security checks and they choed at that point the best sweet of checks that could be accomplished at that point. but what we've done, conflicttively, by represented here on this panel and many government agencies that aren't here with us, those checks have been enhanced over time. so we added something -- we added department of defense fingerprint checks in 2007, when we started large scale processing of iraqi applicants and that's since been expanded to applicants of all nationalities. we started working with the national count terrorism sender and were able to add checks that let us change against the broader else kags. i've been enhancing the checks as time goes on, and that is
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continuing today, we're committed to that. the other thing i did want to mention as well is, there has been increased attention:think to refugee resettlement in many communities and players who traditionally didn't have a high level of aware of the program and we realized thamp othat our public materials needed attention as well. so we've worked hard on our website. we have, i think, better information to help you understand who our reffy? s what ask refugee resettlement and what the screening processes are we take seriously before we let people travel. i did want to let you know that's a resource that's there. in general for education and some of the it also suitable if you were having a stake older meeting. there's information that could be downloaded and printed out and given to interest holders who have an interest about what's going on in their community. there's a short video videos
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from secretary johns be from dhs. so we tried to advance the public information tools and we would be very interested in hearing back if there are additional needs if your communities that will be useful. we can help, and being partners with you on that public communication. >> very good. thank you, barbara. robert? >> great. thank you. and i want to start out by just thanking the, this group here, both my partners, but also the mayors and your representatives. the u.s. refugee is a almost like a private workmanship but the most important level happens at community center and would not be possible without the support of countless volunteers and those who participate in the process. serviced, the most vulnerable is central to the mission of the u.s. resettlement program and
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our success as a nation of immigrants is rooted in american values, the quality and opportunity, which secure our commitment to fully welcome and integrate newcomers into the foob brick of our nations. >> this efforts not only -- and the communities. it's important to remember that refugees bring talent, drive, start businesses at very high rates. they go to work quite quickly. they pay taxes. they become involved as members of society, and they are an asset. so i think that's an important thing. they have always been an outfit. it's an official tenet of the country. they bring a vitality and reyued ideas, and that's demonstrated throughout the communities and the economies. it's also very much a public, private partnership. the uz refugee program, both the state department and the hhs component of it align closely and work closely with nonprofit
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organizations. voluntary organizations as kro the united states who bring to the process not only a large engagement of volunteers and -- and religious institutions and civic organizations, but also a community commitment to this long and important tradition. the services that orr provide, closely coordinated in a very coherent fashion and that's important to remember. these thing doss not happen -- there's in addition to the consultation process led by the processes, led by the white house, before there is a presidential determination, as to the number of refugees to be admitted in the giving year, in the coming year, that number is established at the current year of 85,000. there are also kmuns pal and community based that consult at the local level, or as partners
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in each state there is in each state a refugee coordinator whose charge it coordinate provisions within that state and ensure that that coordination process takes place. there is also a state refugee health rorpder who ensures health services twinge the date are coordinated to ensure that refugees perceive both public health screenings as they arrive. they are screened before admission but screens buns again upon a rival to the united states and that any ongoing medical issues and services are provided in an efficient fashion. refugee services include, short-term cash and medical assistance. the thrust of the program is, and the primary directive, is to ensure that refugees become self-sufficient as quickly as possible so all of the supportive services which are provided, whether they be english language instruction,
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direct employment, psychosocial services, school adjustment programs. oh a host of other programs, are all really focused on ensuring that refugees become self-sufficient as quickly as possible. because the financial is port provided through the office of resettlement to the states is quite time limited. final assistant through the refugee cash assist program has a maximum of eight months provision. refugees are categorically eligible as well as other individuals legally present in the united states, would be for other services, but there is a time limit on the cash assistant and the expectation and the reality is that refugees become employed quite quickly and are quickly contributing to their local communities and providing thatble talented and economic benefit. we believe and this is echoed in the white house initiative,
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which is a central tenant of the program. the refugees should be able to fully participate in all saects of civil life. whether it be invofted in with it in schools, teacher/parent associations. they should be able to rigt they should be able to rio -- historically that is absolutely has what han done. we also -- their partnership is a central part of the program. sow not only the national voluntary agencies which have affiliates in 49 of the 50 states, that represents virtually every major rainstream religious denomination as well as as well as non-religiously affiliated entities as well. a lot of volunteers, whether it will be retire eve with
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university voller tos. the really, really broad range of full society. then the program enjoys as many of you i'm sure are well aware, a great deal of support from within those communities, k34 is the only way it can function. it's solely dependant upon the public funds and leveraging it to create private support from the program. receiving communities are critical. it also that we -- it is also critical that we, as barbara reference pd and felicia, communicate clearly and effectively about the program. what it does. who we are bringing. we've always done that but are always striving to do it better, more cogently, more effectively because this is a critical mission and a life-saving mission. the people, simon and others, have referenced to the -- coming here for economic benefit. coming here to save their lives and those of their children. coming to rebuild their lives
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and are deeply appreciative of the opportunity that has been afforded them to start a new life in a secure and safe setting, and that's reflected in the contributions that they make to the communities. but i would like to in closing underscore there is an active consultation process. >> many are probably aware of it, but there is consultation in both an annual and quarterly basis. both the state and the community relph. every nunt of which there is a refugee resettlement program and most always a requirement there be regular convenings to brief civil society, actors, schools, law enforcement, all of those parties who are involved or come into contact with refugees about the program, about the plans for a future resettlement, about the needs of the populations in advance of their rival. whether it's torture, trauma, cross-cultural issues.
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so it's very much a private blood partnership, and we encourage you or your designees to endach in that process if you're not already doing so and it's very much a welcome part of what we do and a critical part, too, to ensure the parts of the program that we support across the u.s. so thank you for that support and engagement and we look forward to the continuing partnership. >> very good. thank you, robert. we'll open it up to questions from the audience. go ahead, use the microphone if you like. >> you want me to use a microphone? okay. i'll be brief. it's hard to the brief in this town. >> that's true. >> i'm very inspired, robert, by what you just articulated. i think there are communities similar to mine that have been working with the immigration community for a long time.
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our community is a western suburb, northwest, cook county. half in cook, half in due page. i'm on the border of three community klemps. four. ships, seven school districts, a diverse community with 40% or more first generation families. they're either latino, whether they're from southeast asia. whether they're from bosnia. >> you set up a process with community colleges and it took four years, elly mae is a stove pipe allegation, i don't care what district or what you're talking about, to break down a barrier within the -- across their borders. a year and a half ago in august we opened education and worth net center. the community colleges discovered that we weren't being served.
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now, we're a small community. we're a mile wide and seven miles long. it's kind of crazy how we ever got that way, however, we've put in place opportunities for first generation families and young people to get in, english, second language. i think they got like fife different levels. i think it's second language. get, move right in. many people have an education someplace else. get their gd p to get in the pathway to community colleges, to jobs, to intern ships. we're bringing it all together. my biggest concern after a year of doing this, between the community sledge, the state, myself, we figured if 250 people inspired through that program in the first year, we'd consider it a success. we were well over 900 in the first year. well over 900 and there's still
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a waiting list and we're really trying to continue the movement, and the state of illinois that is so upside down, i can't tell you we have fears about trying to keep these initiatives open. >> so -- we have the kind of environment that's receptive, that's open, and hearing what you've shared -- how ke be a participate of the american dream for some of these people who are looking to g ing ting ty of stated. if i put it in the newspaper, where's that guy come from? we need to help people prove to the next ledge avel and assure them -- our crime rate has gone down because people have hopd. hope for nor families and they want to be a part of the community. so we have these opportunities that are flourishing, but trying to you know, ender an
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environment where everybody's looking. they're peeling back the young yin or everything, where's the coll dollar coming from? you need the right people in place welcoming, that are open and can help others with pathway. that's the environment that i'm trying to establish and have established in our community, being the mayor for nine years, i don't take no for an answer, but she have to find ways, and what you're sharing, i mean, you're trying to fight and i'm trying to say, you know, ivy we have an environment that's welcoming and could flourish in that. we're here to help. we just need to know what the needs are so we can sign up, i guess? who knows, but i just wanted to comment. i don't know if it's the question but i just wanted to comment where we're at and that i believe there's open and, hardest working, want to go to work.
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cleanest house in town. it's just a beautiful thing to see. so i'm real optimistic. i have to cement my driveway now. everyone comes in, cements their driveway. what's that all about? it's just the kind of things we do, so i just make that comment. like i said,ite go out forever. >> a great comment. maybe -- follow-up on that, is there federal funding opportunities for cities, as your city doing all of these things? is, concern about where the money's going to come from. >> some kind of grand or assistance to help keep the type of things open to ensure those needs are continually met. >> any thoughts on that, from the panel? >> well, there are -- you know, through the office of refugee resettlement we provide funding both to the states, which then direct it to priorities within the state to serve refugee populations as well as through
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nonprofit organizations directly, but the majority of the funding is going through the states and then directed out according to priorities which are both identified at the national letter and then level and then modified according to what are determined to be the priority needs. i mean, we focus primarily on issues related to employment or in support of employment. so school impact is part of that for children, as well as english language instruction, which is funded often through community colleges, with funding at the state level provided through rr as well as related transportation costs. the funding is not what some of us would like to see it, but it has the budget, the president's budget request. he called for an increase this year and we're very hopeful about that. there's been, as felicia has talked about, a strong commitment from this administration, and others in the past as well, to this
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program, as being important. so, but i think we have a state coordinator in illinois, and -- there is -- a state refugee coordinator in illinois. and so that may be the good vehicle to determining what the resources are and advising about how those resources can be accessed. >> i have to tell you, state of illinois -- >> give you the mike back. >> i don't want to give a history lesson on the state of illinois, there's so much conflict going on. the state has deliberately frozen our funds coming back to us. we were at $800,000 in my community in arrears and talking about a town of 48,000 people. that i was marching all over the place saying, listen, you support us. we'll support you. i'm uk talking to legislators that from your area. oh, we got to do this, got to do that. i'm tired of it. we finally got them to have a
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bill that at least pass through money that they've already, should be monthly income. so we have got $800,000, i was madman. i ended up writing a 34 legislators who i personally contacted with, had conversations with. thank you. but we've got to get past this because we have to work together. i'd rather be in advocacy, but it wasn't pretty, but in negativi negativity. there's 900 bills right now. you don't have to fire a conflict between the city of chicago and the state. it's a complete disaster. if i have to go through the state on anything, i'm reluctant. okay? we need some direct funds. city of chicago is 800 pound ga ra gorilla in the room. suck up everything the rest of
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the county has needs for. you know where mark will be, far down on the pecking order and that's kind of sad. so coming out here and being a part of u.s. conference of mayors, we have to find ways to, i won't say bypass the state, but my goodness, they're just not working very well for us today. >> an editorial. >> so, and i would just add as a part of the task force on new americans we're working with the department of education and the department of labor. in particular on the wheel implementation so the new work practices and how funding can be used. right? sometimes people don't necessarily know ho funding can be used. with the cbg funding as well a lot of folks are finding creative ways at the local level to invest in refugee immigration efforts using that fund as well. the department of education also launched something a few years
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ago called the networks for integrating new americans project, which was kind of a pilot project in five communities to figure out how we could do nor immigrant and refugee integration using the community college and the community as the hub and building more networks because all of those folks, we found, were doing a great job and helping with the esl but they needed to connect all the other dots with all the other networks in the community, because maybe some people are eligible for citizenship and shouldn't learn about that. a captive audience learning english, maybe they need more skills to get them into the fork woers making sure businesses they're working with, those community colleges and it was only a technical assistant grant so it wasn't a lot of money, but what we found is, by connecting those folks with our federal agency partners and our national ngo partners they actually learned how too use other resources and have gotten other grants from the department of
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labor from u.s. cis and the immigration, in the citizen. work and others. so -- so those are a couple of other nuggets out there that we in our task forces we high lighted a number of there's and over the year in particular as we know implementation happens. talking a lot how to give cities and states the technical assistance and know-how how to connect the dots. actually the new workforce law has a lot of, a lot of tools that people can use that didn't exist before for using that money in creative ways to help immigrants and refugees. so -- >> i think what mayor craig's comment, with us mayors, a way to bypass the state and go straight to the cities, you know? feedback from us, if there's a way to do that. appreciate it. marp slay from st. louis. >> thank you, mayor tait for taking leadership on this very important topic for our country
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and thank all of you for joinings the conference of mayors to educate mayors on the importance of being proactive when dealing with immigration and refugees. we've done it in st. louis. we've had nothing historically. we have nothing but positive experience with our immigration -- our community, people who are coming to our city, because they're looking for a place to raise their family, to get a job, to be part of the community, and in addressing the refugees that come into our city. nothing but positive experience, and it's because as a community we've decided in st. louis that it is not only the right thing to do for families that come into our city and to our nation, but it is the right thing to do for our future, as a city and as a region. we have established the mosaic project, a regional project that where we have philanthropic and corporate and civic and
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political communities coming together to make a statement that we want to be a welcoming committee, and we do a lot in educating the public and we talk to the press. the press helps us get our messages out, in a lot of different ways. wah -- so the work you're doing in getting out throughout the united states, talking to communities is very, very important, because knowledge really is important in this effort. there's a lot to know, and as i said, there's nothing but good to come out of a regional and a city effort to be a very welcoming community. we have a, an international institute that is there to he help -- it, to help refugees and immigrants into our city. new americans find jobs, to learn english, to get connected with health care. to learn a lot about what you need to know in the united states and in the city to be a part of the community, be a
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positive part of the community. i am personally engaged in a lot of those efforts. we have a health care center r for, for new americans that come to our city and it's not just for documented citizens as well. we know it's important. everyone gets access to quality health care, but i do think, you know, really, it's important that we elected leaders stand up and talk about it and why it's important. how it strengthens our community and i mean -- what we've seen with the bosnian refugees and vietnamese refugees and we have syrian refugees now is that these are individuals, as was said, that they really do want to be, they want something good and better for themselves and their families. and it is, it's good, not just for them, but for all of us that we make sure we help them with that effort. so i'm going to ask one question, and it has to do with
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what on the syrian refugees the situation, what can we expect over the next year? and in terms of the amount of refugees that will be coming to the united states, and -- i think that's kind of -- because i think it's important. but we're already on record that we're onboard and for full disclosure, my grandparents came from the syrian territory and immigrated to the united states back at the early part of the 1900s, but -- so we're a nation that was built on immigrants. vast majority of us are -- you know, we, our ancestors were immigrants and i think in order to be a strong nation we need to continue to support the new americans that come to our nation. >> thank you, mayor and thanks so much for your support. this program just would not work without support from mayors such as yourself.
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this is the strongest element of the program, and let me just say as an i side, my fame came to the u.s. when i was 5 years old so i'm an immigrant as well. much appreciate what this country has to offer those that decide to move here. for your question, our goal is to bring in more man 10,000 syrian refugees this fiscal year? we've a plan to achieve that. we think we can make that number, and to significantly increase it next year, but we don't have a specific number for next fiscal year yet. >> we want to help. >> thank you. >> and i would just say, also, thanks to you, mayor. i know you have worked with the small business administration as part of our task force on new americans. they actually launched a made in america campaign that is focus and promoting immigrant and refugee stories of people who to
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part of last year's event at the white house we honored champions of change, people who are immigrants, refer jis themselves or folks that have been here many generations lepping to welcome immigrants and refugees and honored anna crossland as a part of that event, who's very much involved in the st. louis mosaic project so we appreciate your partnership with spa and the great model you all have in st. louis. we always want to lift it up. >> very good. >> thanks. hi. i'm the mayor of the city of new haven, and our immigration resettlement organization came to my cabinet meeting about a week and a half ago to indicate that they would be doubling the number of refugees in our city, and as well as doubling outside in our region, and really came
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to thank all of the department heads for the work that they've done over the years in helping them to resettle people. my question isn't so much about that, and i hope this isn't -- i'm just wondering if we can -- as i talk to people who have, are in the process of citizenship, sometimes it has taken as long as 17 years for them to actually get through the whole process, and i was wondering if -- if there's anything that's being done about the bottleneck and helping people get through the process once they've made a commitment to this country they want to be here, and they want to become citizens. it seems to take an inordinately long time. >> so i'll say a little about this and barbara may have some words as well. so uscis is actually the co-chair on the task force of
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new americans and has actually been a real star in terms of the work they're doing at the federal and local level to make sure that people know about the citizenship process. i want to make sure you get connected with the right field office at ucis not sure of the particulars about some of the folks that waited that long but actually a number of good efforts under way. so they have a new grants program we launched and this administration, the last seven years given out millions of dollars to ngos, sometimes cities, sometimes your community colleges that are working to help promote and give people the information about citizenship. we also, sometimes cost is an issue. and actually in this administration we established a fee waiver processing allowing a number of people who have the will, have the, have been really, have the desire to become citizens but cost gets in the way we have a new fee waiver process actually useed by a number of ngos helping people
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with citizenship and kept a fee for naturalization constant throughout this entire administration in recognition of the important benefit it is and how we want to promote citizenship. also a number of different interesting tools uscis pulled together. online in spanish and english and getting translated into other languages so that people who, sometimes the test is a thing that worries people. you know, i don't know if i could get through the uscis citizenship tests sometimes, and i've been in the federal government for many years. so that gets people comfort, if that's what they're worried about. and so as i said, i'd love to make sure you get in touch with the right people at uscis to address individual cases and also figure out ways to partner at the local level. all about community engagement in citizenship and doing even more work on the refugee front as well. there's waivers for people who are older, who may have trouble
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with the english language requirement. we'd like to see those waivers, they're statutory, tweaked a bit. coming in at older riff efugees english is hard to master get a little more availability waivers for those folks but quite a bit we're doing and we want to make sure that we're partnering with your community in that space. and barbara -- >> well, i think -- you know, anaheim, very proud of the people of anaheim and how welcoming they have been to refugees, and continue to, but there are also some concern about on the security aspect that somehow maybe there might be -- what assurances do we have that isis might not have a,
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influence on some of the refugees and things like that? how does -- maybe a little, if you could elaborate on the vetting process agents bit? >> sure. i'm happy to do that. as i mentioned, we do both bigraphic and bimetric checks on refugee applicants.
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