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Demonstrators gather to support refugee resettlement

Demonstrators gather to support refugee resettlement

Charleston, WV was the site of a small demonstration by several hundred last night.  Organized by the West Virginia Interfaith Refugee Ministry (WVIRM), whose board of advisors includes the Rev. Marquita Hutchens, Rector of St John’s Episcopal Church in Charleston and Lynn Clark, a member of St John’s; the protesters were gathered to show their support for the resettlement of Syrian refugees in West Virginia’s capital.

Bishop Mark Van Koevering
Bishop Mark Van Koevering

WVIRM has established a relationship with Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM), one of only a handful of organizations authorized by the US State department to manage refugee resettlement.  After looking at applications from five other cities, Charleston was chosen as a potential resettlement site.  The selection was based on several criteria, such as that Charleston already has a sizable Syrian-American community that wants to be involved and it is expected that many of the refugees will be educated in fields where there are significant gaps in the local workforce such as engineering, medicine and pharmacy.

Bishop Mark Van Koevering, the assistant Bishop of West Virginia, who was present at the rally, explained that the purpose was to “say West Virginia welcomes refugees and wants to be a welcoming place;” adding that “it seems a biblical mandate to help the stranger and those who are hurting.”

The Diocese of West Virginia would be the fiduciary agent on EMM’s behalf locally, working closely with WVIRM to resettle the refugees and get them on their feet ads soon as possible.  If the State Department approves, approximately 30 families would be rresettled each year for three years starting in April 2017.

A small counter-demonstration of a dozen or so people was held concurrently with the rally and the rhetoric of President-elect Trump suggests that there may be changes to the current administrations goals of settling 10,000 refugees annually.  Bishop Van Koevering said that the current climate has “created a huge uncertainty.  EMM is going on as normal but no one really knows what normal will be anymore.”


The Episcopal Public Policy Network has resources and tips for Refugee and Immigration Advocacy here


top image: Sam Owen, Charleston Gazette


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David Allen

I’m guessing that Mr Schutz is just a drive by shooter. He takes a few pot shots, but he doesn’t have the courage of his convictions to back up the wild claims.

Nathan Schutz

What percentage of $15.2 million is spent on administrative overhead?
When the refugees don’t repay the loans, who becomes the debt collector?
What percentage of the recovered funds does the debt collector keep?
The answers are shocking.

Gregory Orloff

If the answers are that shocking, Mr. Schutz, how come you don’t write a post that plainly states the facts and backs them up with links to corroborating documentation, so we can check the sources for ourselves? Otherwise you’re just trading in innuendo and insinuation by throwing teaser questions out into the ring.

David Allen

We deal in facts here at the Café, not inuendo.

Please make plain your accusations.

Ann Fontaine

This has been answered before by EMM – you can write them about it.
It is the cost of resettlement – moving a family from a refugee camp, paperwork, helping get them settled in the US. It is not for profit. Also the family pays what they can.

Nathan Schutz

Episcopal Migration Ministries received $15.2 million from the federal government for year 2015.

Lovingkindness pays well.

David Allen

OK, is that a profit? What are the costs associated with the tasks that EMM fulfills for the US government regarding the settlement of immigrants?

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