Cheryl Roy and I had a good meeting with Harold Schlechtweg, the Policy Advocate for IRC. Harold has been on the job since October 1, and is reaching out to friends of refugees in the community. The following are some of the highlights of our meeting.
There will be a gathering of faith leaders on Tuesday, November 13, from 11:00 to 1:00 at the SEIU Union Hall on West Douglas. This is an opportunity to meet other faith leaders who are engaged in ministry with refugees and learn about what is going on with refugee resettlement in Wichita.
For several decades the average number of refugees being allowed into the U.S. has been around 90,000, sometimes more and sometimes less. Under the present administration the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. and federal funding for refugee services will be cut–drastically. The family reunification program has also been curtailed.
U.S. policy has global implications as nations in Europe and around the world are taking signals from the U.S. regarding their own refugee resettlement programs.
In the past a bill was introduced into the Kansas legislature to prevent the resettlement of Muslims in Kansas. Another bill to make it more difficult for refugee service agencies to work in Kansas was also introduced. Both bills never made it out of committee, but there may be efforts in the future to bring them back.
Education and advocacy are primary tools for people and groups working with refugees in Kansas.
My thanks to Harold for meeting with us. Muffin has already invited him to return to Pine Valley to meet with our refugee committee. Watch for future announcements.