Document Sample
MEMORANDUM Powered By Docstoc
					                                                                                  Charlie Crist
                        State of Florida                                          Governor
                        Department of Children and
                                                                                  George H. Sheldon
                        Families                                                  Secretary

                    August 14, 2009

Mariel Garcia, Suzy Cop, Regina Bernadin, Tomas Rodriguez, Onelia Fajardo, Sergio Suarez, Alex
Borbolla, Tal Winer, Ulysses Arteaga, Guillermo Oliver, Alvaro Vargas, Mitsouko Chatelain, Aurelio
Blanco, Sharol Lewin, Miriam J. Garcia, Christine Reis, Yolanda Coto, Eileen Colon, Evelyn Soto,
Guillermo Luna, Ange Das, Dorothy Martin, Niurka Albuerne, Eduardo Chavez, Yuri Ybarra,
Roberto Dominguez, Ahsley Lieser, Paola Balelsteros, Adriana Rodriguez, Alex Borbolla, Georges
Legerme, Lawrence Ress, Mark Cassini, Gabriela Valle, Nilda De la Torre, Ileana Bustelo, Bojan,
Bajic, Kelly Thomson, Modesto Burgos, Letty Valle,
Francisco Figueroa, Maria Moreno, Yanisleydis Aguero, Ana Someillan, Anna Brown, Jerome
Senior II, Adria Dilme, Lourdes Leceonte

Adria Dilme from Department of Children and Families, Refugee Services welcomed the task force

Susie Brightner, Director of Children’s Museum and Fine Arts Gallery from the Alper Jewish
Community Center announced a traveling exhibit from Active Voice called Torn from Home: My
Life as a Refugee. Exhibit will be taking place in Miami from September 21 through January 10,
2010 at the Dave and Mary Alper JCC, 11155 SW 112th Avenue, Miami, Florida 33176. For a
photo gallery of this exhibit please visit:

Luis A. Peña, Program Officer, Community Investments, United Way of Miami-Dade provided
the task force members with a Resource Directory. This is a list of all of the agencies that United
Way funds through the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) here in Miami-Dade. He
encouraged the distribution of the list to all service providers as a means of helping our clients
however his only request was to not distribute the list to clients.

Mr. Peña can be reached at: or 305-646-7095.

                       401 NW 2nd Avenue, Suite N-820 Miami, Florida 33128

   Mission: Protect the Vulnerable, Promote Strong and Economically Self-Sufficient Families, and
                       Advance Personal and Family Recovery and Resiliency
MIAMI-DADE Refugee Task Force                                       August 14, 2009 Meeting Minutes

Updates have been sent to every task force member electronically and will therefore not be read at
the meeting unless discussion and or clarification is needed. For anyone not receiving the updates
but would like to, please let Adria Dilme or Lourdes Leconte know so that your information is added
to our mailing list.
 Refugees’ Housing Needs Tracking Form from August - October
 Miami-Dade Blue Health Insurance Plan
 EFAHP Funding Status
 Grants.Gov Web Site Offers New Feature for Information on Applying for all ARRA Federal
 American Recovery & Reinvestment Act Grant Opportunity/Dpt. Of Labor Employment and
    Training Administration
 Recovery Act: HHS plans Expansion of Training of Health Care Professionals through
    Grants, Loans and Scholarships
 Department Announces $220 million competition to fund Programs to Prepare Workers for
    Health Care Careers
 July Refugee Housing Newsletter
 Facts About Refugees and the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Act (HPRP)
    from Mercy Housing
 National Housing Law Project – Utility Allowance Pamphlet
 Announcement of Grant: Reaching Underserved elderly and Working Poor in SNAP
    FY 2009 Pilots
 Refugee and Entrant Project Newsletter by the Lawton and Rhea Chiles Center
 Health IT Webinar
 Updated Federal Guidelines for 2009 H1N1 Influenza in Schools Offer Many Options -
    Guidance Says Officials Should Consider Local Needs in Making Decisions
 HHS RELEASE-- Updated Federal Guidelines - HIV Notice of Proposed Rule Making
 HIV Notice of Proposed Rule Making

Kelly B. Thompson, Assistant Program Administrator, Refugee Health Program Bureau of TB &
Refugee Health and Bojan Bajic from Youth Co-op Inc. discussed the proposed HIV rule change,
benefits and concerns raised by others across the country and shared reactions/feedback from
participants on a local level.

Review of Proposed Rule Change & Impact:
    Remove HIV from Class A conditions/grounds for inadmissibility
    Discontinue terstin for HIV during overseas medical exam
    Estimated 4.06/1000 immigrants will have HIV – a total of 1,075-6,409 infected immigrants
       each year
    Onward transmission is estimated at 1.51% implying an added cost of $1.6 million to the
       financial impact annually
    Financial impact is estimated at $1 billion to $10 billion total resettlement cost for all
MIAMI-DADE Refugee Task Force                                         August 14, 2009 Meeting Minutes

       Annual treatment cost ranges from $19,466 to $30,954 per patient
       Total annual cost of the proposed change is $94 million with a range of $19 million - $173

Our Current Guidelines & Possible Changes:
    Most CHDs offer HIV testing during initial health screening
    If policy changes, DOH will continue to recommend voluntary HIV testing and encourage
      testing for those with LTBI or active TB, or other high risk activities
    HIV testing is also available at local CHDs, ASOs and CBOs free of charge

Current Educational Information Available:
    Mainly available in Spanish and Creole
    Limited resources in other languages
    USCRI has one pamphlet available for download in multiple languages such as Karen and

Patient Care Services:
     Ryan White Services will cover medical costs for HIV infected uninsured patients
     Eligibility guidelines are relatively broad and most refugees should be eligible for services,
        even if working
     Services cover medications, medical care, mental health counseling, case management, food
        assistance, housing assistance, etc.
     TOPWA for pregnant women

Prevention Services:
    High risk negative interventions – many available in Spanish and Creole
    Prevention for Positives
    Community PROMISE, SISTA, VOICES, for provider maps

Populations of Concern/Additional Assistance:
    Burmese, Bhutanese, Iraqi, population will need additional information and outreach due to
        lack of information available
    These populations will also most likely be less high-risk

Collaboration with ASOs
     AIDS services are heavily funded and potentially have funds to do outreach or education for
       your clientele
     We at HQ will be reaching out to the HIV/AIDS program to assist with translation and
       educational services for our refugees
     Utilize outreach workers at ASOs to assist in providing education to the refugees at
       orientation sessions, etc.
     Refer HR clients to community of group level interventions.

MIAMI-DADE Refugee Task Force                                          August 14, 2009 Meeting Minutes


Berta Cassidy was not present at the meeting but sent the August updates electronically from
USCIS as follows:

Alejandro Mayorkas Sworn in as USCIS Director - Alejandro Mayorkas was sworn in as
the new Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Mayorkas, a Cuban
immigrant to the United States, comes to USCIS with a broad legal background and will lead the
agency charged with running the nation’s immigration and naturalization system.

To read more -

New Website - On September 22nd a redesigned web site will be
launched to help customers navigate the immigration system and remain up-to-date regarding their
case status.

To read more -

Case Status Inquiries with Service Centers - USCIS has issued instructions on making
inquiries with the agency's four Service Centers. Customers, community-based organizations and
liaison groups should follow this guidance when inquiring about case related issues. This new
process standardizes customer service and streamlines processing of customer inquiries at USCIS
Service Centers.

To read more –

Upcoming Naturalization Ceremonies – Below are scheduled dates for Administrative N-400
Oath Ceremonies and the corresponding field offices where the ceremonies will take place.
Please note that although these dates are current on the date of issuance of this update, the dates
are subject to change without notice.

Miami Field Office – September 28, 29 and 30
Hialeah Field Office – September 11, 17 and 25

MIAMI-DADE Refugee Task Force                                            August 14, 2009 Meeting Minutes

Oakland Park Field Office – September 16, 18, and 23
Kendall Field Office – August 27 and 28, September 24 and 25

Modesto Burgos provided the following updates for August:

FEES SCHEDULED TO CHANGE: Beginning September 1, 2009, certain fees for driver
license and motor vehicle services will be changing. These new base fees were established by the
Florida Legislature as part of the state’s budget development process. A combination of vehicle
information is used to determine registration fees. They are the registration use, license plate type
and class code. The class code is determined by the vehicle weight, body type, vehicle type and
registration use. To see a sample, click here.

A list of the new fees for the most frequently used motorist services is provided below. For a
complete listing of all new motorist services fees, including the amount of the previous fee and the
date of the most recent fee change, please click here. To review the Department’s most recent
Benchmarking Analysis in which Florida’s operating costs and related fees were compared to
several other participating states, click here. For a list of frequently asked questions and answers
regarding Florida's new fees, click here.

identification cards can be renewed up 18 months prior to their expiration date. Please visit for more information regarding renewals.

with partners from Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration and Donate Life Florida
announced the launch of the Joshua Abbott Organ and Tissue Donor Registry. The new online
registry at, allows residents (and even those who live outside
Florida) to designate themselves as organ, tissue and eye donors.

The Department encourages you to check out the web site and if you are already a registered
donor, you should ensure your information is in the registry and up-to-date. The web site not only
allows you to register as a donor and update your information, but also it gives you the option to
specify your wishes regarding your donation.

DHSMV has played a large role in developing the web site. Florida’s current donors are already
uploaded into the new, online registry thanks to members from the Division of Driver Licenses and
Information Systems Administration. The new registration also should streamline the registration
process for those who register in driver license offices.

Donate Life Florida is dedicated to empowering the public to save and enhance lives through
organ and tissue donation as well as make other lifesaving donations, such as blood and marrow.

MIAMI-DADE Refugee Task Force                                              August 14, 2009 Meeting Minutes

Funding for the registry comes solely from voluntary contributions to the Health Care Trust Fund
through the $1 donation Floridians make when obtaining motorist services.

Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles launched a parents section on its teen driving website The new and improved website now provides parents with useful
information to help them teach their teens to become safe drivers. Florida’s graduated driver
licensing program allows teens to obtain a learner’s permit at age 15, which restricts them to
driving only under certain conditions with a licensed adult. Other restrictions apply to teens with an
operator’s license until their 18th birthday.

To ensure that both parents and teens have a complete understanding of the law, an explanation of
each phase of the graduated licensing program and the related restrictions can be found on the
website. Certain behaviors are associated with the cause of the high fatality rate of teen drivers
including: inexperience and immaturity combined with speed, alcohol consumption, not wearing
seatbelts, distractions, drowsiness, and driving when visibility is limited. The website includes a
driving guide and a driving log to track the 50 hours of practice that teens must record to obtain
their intermediate operator’s license. To visit the website, please go to:

BUCKLE UP, EVERYONE!: The mandatory use of seatbelts in motor vehicles is a reality in
Florida. The new law allows for the primary enforcement of Florida’s safety belt requirements,
which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates will save 124 lives, prevent
1,733 serious injuries, and save $408 million in associated costs each year. Parents must be good
role models to help their children form lifelong habits of buckling up. Buckle up, everyone!

DHSMV “Gather, Go, Get” CAMPAIGN ROLLS ALONG: In January 2010, the
Department will begin issuing driver licenses and identification cards that meet new federal
standards. Although Florida already has one of the most secure issuance processes and
credentials, these changes will enhance our efforts to minimize fraud and identity theft.

The Department has implemented a comprehensive public information campaign entitled Gather,
Go, Get to ensure that our members, partners, stakeholders and the public are aware of how
these new requirements will affect them. The Department recently completed the first phase of the
campaign that focused on educating Department and County Tax Collector personnel, many of
whom are on the frontlines and interact with our customers on a daily basis.

Over the next few weeks we will target our partner agencies - such as law enforcement – via
informational posters, brochures and other materials that can be printed from the Gather, Go,
Get promotional website at: The campaign will include
informative e-mails that will help promote both the partner and public websites. Law enforcement
offices are an integral partner in our efforts to direct an inquisitive public to the resources they will
need to Gather their documents, Go to an issuance office and Get their new license or ID card.

REVIEW OF CURRENT REQUIREMENTS: Florida requires additional documents for
people renewing or obtaining their Florida driver license or identification card. Everyone must
MIAMI-DADE Refugee Task Force                                            August 14, 2009 Meeting Minutes

provide one proof of residential address, and one form of proof of social security number, if
issued. The changes are required to bring Florida into compliance with the Real ID Act of 2005.

To renew or obtain a license or identification card, residents must now have one form of proof of
residential address such as:
   Deed, mortgage, monthly mortgage statement, mortgage payment booklet or residential
    rental/lease agreement
   Florida Voter Registration Card
   Florida Vehicle Registration or Title
   A utility hook up or work order dated within 60 days of the application
   W-2 form or 1099 form
   A letter from a homeless shelter, transitional service provider, or a half-way house verifying
    that the customer resides at the shelter address

For a list of Proof of Residential Address documents, please visit

Proof of social security number, if issued, includes one of the following:
  Social Security card
  Tax return
  W-2 form
  Pay check stub
  DD-214 (military discharge document)
  School record
  Documentation from the IRS containing your social security number

First time residents applying for a driver license or identification card must also provide proof of
identity such as:
   Original or certified birth certificate (name on each document must match exactly or be
    accompanied by an official marriage certificate or court order)
   Valid passport

Non-US Citizens must provide additional documents such as:
  Valid permanent resident card
  Employment authorization card

The Department provides a list of acceptable documents online at
REAL ID – BASIC FACTS: Florida will begin issuing Real ID driver licenses and ID cards no
later than January 1, 2010. This means that:
       Your current, unexpired, Florida driver license or ID card will continue to be valid as
        identification for federal purposes until December 1, 2014 for individuals born after
        December 1, 1964, and December 1, 2017 for everyone else.

MIAMI-DADE Refugee Task Force                                             August 14, 2009 Meeting Minutes

       After the 2014 and 2017 dates, Federal agencies will no longer accept a driver license or
        ID card unless it is Real ID compliant. This means you will not be allowed to board
        commercial flights or enter federal facilities unless you have a Real ID compliant

For more complete information about Real ID, please visit
AN APPOINTMENT WILL SAVE YOU TIME! All customers who must visit one of our
offices to renew, replace, or file a change of address to their driver license or identification card,
are urged to secure an appointment prior to their visit. Connect via Internet at for an appointment to greatly reduce the length of the visit. Then
link to the on-line pre-application and complete it before coming to one of our offices.

OUR OFFICE SCHEDULE: Driver license offices in Florida are open Monday through Friday
from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Testing guidelines, that continue to provide excellent customer service, call
for the start of the last oral examination and CDL test to begin each day at 3:30 p.m. The last
written examinations and driving tests begin each day at 4:30 p.m. Please check our website at for the most up-to-date information on office locations and schedules.
Class E (original)     $27.00                   CDL (renewal) $67.00
Class E (renewal)      $20.00                   ID Card (original)    $10.00
CDL (original) $67.00                  Endorsements            $ 7.00
Driver License Services at Tax Collector office Service Fee    $ 5.25

Class E (original)     $48.00                   CDL (renewal) $75.00
Class E (renewal)      $48.00                   ID Card (original)    $25.00
CDL (original) $75.00                  Endorsements            $ 7.00
Driver License Services at Tax Collector office Service Fee    $ 6.25

                        SOUTH FLORIDA VOLAG CONSORTIUM
Evelyn Soto, Catholic Charities, Refugee Resettlement and Employment Programs

Evelyn Soto              (CCI)
Alina Herrera            (CCI)
Jose Sanchez             (CWS)
Virginia Coto            (CWS)
Magda de Varona          (IOM)
Veronica Rodriguez       (USCRI)
Gustavo Diaz             (USCRI)
Gloria Ojeda             (WRC)

MIAMI-DADE Refugee Task Force                                        August 14, 2009 Meeting Minutes

Oasis Pena               (IRC)

The VOLAG meeting was held at World Relief on Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Evelyn Soto called the meeting and welcomed everyone. .Minutes from previous meeting were
reviewed and approved.

The New Agenda was approved and the following items discussed:

Maria Moreno from LSF informed Evelyn Soto that they could not serve as secretary. Oasis
Pena from IRC will serve as secretary.

    MG enrollments for July

    Agency         Trafficked                       Asylees        Refugees          Total
                    Persons      Entrants
CWS                    0           170                20               62             252
EMM                    0            59                10               78             147
IRC                    8           202                54              135             399
LIRS                   0           137                 0               92             229
USCCB                  0           141                33              181             355
USCRI/YC               0           591                14              127             732
WR                     0            51                 1               79             131

    Update on POP arrivals (CWS)

There were 892 arrivals in July 2009 – only 31 people left Miami, YTD total 8756.

CWS are seeing a significantly decreased in the border crosser and Cuban rafters.

    Meeting with Havana Coordinator will take place on 8/17/09 at Catholic Charities – 700
     South Royal Poinciana Suite 800 at 1:30 PM. Joe De Maria will meet with the members of
     the VOLAG’. Evelyn Soto will confirm everyone on Monday.

    Other Items

Magda De Varona from IOM informed us that the last flight from Havana for this fiscal year will
be 09/17/09. The flights for the next fiscal year will re-start Mid October.

Virginia Coto mentioned that her HQ informed them that PRM is expecting to see more free cases
to be resettled in Miami. Evelyn Soto (CCI) is already seeing some cases that are free cases in
All VOLAG’s would like to know the position of the State of Florida about having free cases in

    MIAMI-DADE Refugee Task Force                                         August 14, 2009 Meeting Minutes

    Virginia Coto also informed us that the Cuban- Haitian Conference will take place next week.
    She presented a Save the Date for a Fair Immigration Summit – Wednesday, September 2, 2009,
    Noon – 4:00 p.m. that will take place at Stephen P. Clark Government Center. She encourages
    all the VOLAG to participate and support this summit. She will participate today at the Summit
    Planning Meeting at 3:00 PM and will report back to us.

           Next meeting date

    September 9, 2009
                                     SUBCOMMITTEE REPORTS

    Immigration and Legal Issues Sub Committee has no report for August. Christine Reis
    provided a brief summary of the meeting requested by Randy McGrorty with Director of USCIS,
    Linda Swacina to address concerns about the re paroling of Haitian and the proposed HIV rule

    The next Immigration Subcommittee Meeting is scheduled for Thursday, September 10, 2009 at
    10:00 in the morning at the Offices of USCIS, HIALEAH FIELD OFFICE
    5880 NW 183rd STREET, HIALEAH, FLORIDA 33015

    Education Sub-Committee Meeting: MDC Wolfson on 8-12-9.
    Attended by Roberto Dominguez/ REVEST and Carlos Baena, Georges Legerme, and Lawrence
    Ress/ SAVES.
o   On August 8th, 2009, Maria Miranda was approved by the School Board as the NEW
    supervisor/ SAVES Program Coordinator, officially replacing Dr. Edwina Hoffman.
o   On July 15th, Jorge Nieto of the Epilepsy Foundation presented at the District Meeting at Miami
    Beach Adult Center. A very special “thank you” to Mr. Nieto as well as to DCF and RTFM for
    providing such an informative presentation.
o   Budget cuts continue to affect both REVEST and SAVES. Both are in contract negotiations with
o   Continuing eligibility determination training will continue in order to insure that refugee service
    providers comply with their Refugee Services and DCF contracts. Carla Caison (at 850-487-
    0045 or ) has been informed regarding REVEST & SAVES training
    needs through August 2009, for the remaining 2009-2010 schedule. A Level l training was held
    on August 13, at University Access CSC, and we are waiting to hear from Ms. Caison for more
o   SAVES has piloted with Josef Silny (instead of with UM/ACE) for its evaluation services. If this
    is completed within the time frame needed, Silny will manage these services for SAVES. SAVES
    is still waiting on this.

    MIAMI-DADE Refugee Task Force                                          August 14, 2009 Meeting Minutes

o REVEST is in the process of moving into its new Hialeah Outreach Center at 3860 W 16th AVE,
  Hialeah, Fl.               A ribbon-cutting ceremony coinciding with REVEST’s Ten Year
  Anniversary will be held at the new site on Thursday, September 10 th, 2009 – from 10:00AM to
  12:00PM. All are welcomed to participate.
o The matter regarding the difficulties encountered with archiving thousands of student files has been
  resolved. Since SAVES files are property of DCF yet reflect M-DCPS information, an affidavit
  will be used authorizing representatives of SAVES to shred all files that are six years or older.
  Thanks to DCF/ George Lewis, Ileana Bustelo, Angela Hiciano, and Yolanda Coto for following
  through. The process will begin in 2009-1, as soon as some issues are resolved.
o REVEST has registered 2951 students for Cycle 51; classes begin on September 2nd, 2009.
o SAVES will remain at 16 M-DCPS sites for the beginning of 2009-1, opening on August 24th.
o SAVES is still very concerned about students signing up, testing, and registering just to meet
  certain service provider requirements, and then disappearing without fulfilling completion.
o SAVES is currently identifying how to raise completion rates by focusing on retention activities.
o We are requesting information on the Cuban/ Haitian Entrant Program Conference at the Loews
  Hotel on Monday, August 17th, 2009, as we have not been informed regarding this event.

o Recommended link to article details the numbers of Caribbean immigrants in the US : Over 1,300
  Caribbean nationals granted asylum Status in 2008: CaribWorldNews, New York, NY,
  Fri. July 10, 2009
o Story on Cuban doctors difficult transition into the United States is detailed in this New York
  Times article:

    Hiram Ruiz led the discussion and requested feed back about the growing concern and debate at
    the national level regarding the refugee resettlement program. Many involved in the resettlement
    program have been saying that the system is broken and not meeting the needs of refugees.
    Among the many problems that have been raised by different parties involved in the resettlement
    programs are: lack of coordination between the State Department’s Reception and Placement
    Program and the HHS/Office of Refugee Resettlement’s (ORR) resettlement program; lack of
    coordination and communication between federal, state and local authorities and between these
    governmental agencies and the national resettlement agencies and their local affiliate; inadequate
    funding for all stages of the program, exacerbated by the current economic climate, including lack
    of jobs and affordable housing; a sense that actors at the national level are out of tough with the
    day to day struggle of resettled refugees to survive; and a resettlement population that includes
    increasing numbers of disable, infirm, traumatized, or elderly refugees and large or single-parent
    families that need levels of assistance not provided by the program. Hiram had requested
    permission to distribute materials gathered during his Washington trip to share with task force

MIAMI-DADE Refugee Task Force                                         August 14, 2009 Meeting Minutes

members. He provided an electronic version of such documents electronically before the task
force meeting. Documents provided were:

1. An unofficial document that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Washington
   office prepared for the White house meeting. Please note that this document is not for further
   distribution or citation. UNHCR has kindly agreed to allow me to distribute it to the Task
   Force for this discussion.

2. A public document prepared by RCUSA for the White House meeting and for general

3. A recent letter from SCORR to the House Appropriations Committee re funding for refugee
   programs that lays out at least some of SCORR's concerns.

Task force members were divided into groups to brainstorm and discuss 8 questions on this
subject. Below are the questions and recommendations from the groups.

       Refugee Task Force Meeting Discussion on the Resettlement Program

   1. To what extent do the range of benefits and services available to new refugees
      enable them to survive in the short term and successfully integrate in the long

              The funding services provided to SAVES offer many wonderful opportunities for
               both short and long term integration, in a vacuum. However outside influences,
               such as those listed in #2, make the reality much different.
              Cash assistance has been the same for at the last 15 years and yet the cost of
               living has skyrocketed.
              At least in South Florida the majority of the families have relatives in the area.
              One problem is how do large families afford housing without jobs?
              Local programs depend a lot on the refugee families existing family in the US.
              VOLAGS/Providers have to be very creative on free cases and reach out to the
               community for resources.
              Change eligibility “start date” from date of entry to time of application to assure
               that refugees get the full eight months (cures problem of ref.s finding out about
               services weeks or months after arrival and also addresses ref.s coming in through
               structured process versus those who do not)
              Within the service community, it is important for stakeholders to know each other
               and build relationships to facilitate quality referrals and exchange of information.
               [Should be one of the core goals of Task Force]
              Language – big concern particularly outside Dade: No English, no job, no
               integration and may lead to mental distress. Everyone was familiar with our

MIAMI-DADE Refugee Task Force                                        August 14, 2009 Meeting Minutes

               interpreter services and used it. Should consider paying new arrivals with low or
               non-existing language skills to go to school – intensive English language classes.
               The person is able to have money (“support” himself) while acquiring an
               ESSENTIAL skill that continues to pay off in the long run. In the short run, with
               some English skills can maneuver transportation, talk to a doctor or lawyer and
               resolve basic problems.
              REVEST had the best outlook. Felt they had good success rate (most of their
               people able to find employment in 5, 6 months) – work mostly with Cubans in
              Current resettlement policy is based on the large scale movements of refugees
               from Southeast Asia and the Former Yugoslavia whose populations were fairly
               homogenous. Since then, the State Department's policy on resettlement has
               become more global, encompassing very diverse populations from many different
               countries on more continents. There have not been adequate adjustments in the
               federal program to keep pace with these changes. The current range of benefits
               appears to help those individuals who come from countries with similar systems
               (banking, employments, schools, etc) to more quickly integrate and to have
               greater long term success so long as they do not suffer from significant levels of
               trauma related to their refugee experience. Individuals struggling with more than
               language barriers appear to require more long term, hands on, intensive level
               services than are currently provided to most adult refugees. Parents of kids in the
               refugee youth programs benefit greatly from the added assistance in learning about
               and accessing various systems such as schools, Medicaid, local social services,
               etc. They are frustrated that refugee youth programs cannot address their long
               term needs of employment assistance, job training, and case management and
               report that the existing programs available to them don't do enough.
              No, not even close, not by today’s standard. The system is not set up to address
               all the particular needs of a refugee which can vary depending on the individual’s

   2. How has the downturn in the economy in the past year made it more difficult for
      refugees to become self-sufficient and integrate? How?

              The difficulties the SAVES Program experiences are with maintaining high
               retention and completion success rates. The needs to get a job or multiple jobs,
               chase after them through relocation, stay home to provide childcare, and/or have
               to move because of housing issues all affect retention and completion rates.
              Language and training issues exist and are very real for refugees.

MIAMI-DADE Refugee Task Force                                           August 14, 2009 Meeting Minutes

              Integration is already an existing problem in Miami but the economy has made it
               hard to find a job in a short period of time.
              Employers have become more selective.
              Job developers face competition from mainstream; there is a push back of why
               give jobs to refugees when US citizens are having a hard time finding a job.
              Economy is affecting all aspects of resettlement (i.e. Housing, food,
              Families have to live in conditions that were unacceptable before.
              It also creates family tension with the sponsor.
              Our families have definitely been affected by the economic situation resulting in
               loss of jobs, greater competition for the jobs that are available, housing issues, etc.
               With large numbers of refugees coming from agrarian communities and/or having
               spent years in refugee camps, they are not necessarily prepared for the US labor
               market which is more mechanized than when the refugee program was started.
               The economic downturn has exacerbated that problem even more.
              The competition is fierce. More experienced and bi lingual workers are in the field.
               Employers have a large pool to choose from. There is no real incentive for
               employers to hire refugee workers. There is a language barriers and training is

   3. What are the main benefits or services that refugees would need more of to be
      able to become self-sufficient and integrate? (Or, what benefits and services
      would they need that don’t now exist?)

              The bus passes are excellent for those who receive them, so are the academic
               evaluations/translations, both for their personal development in getting them back
               into their field of expertise from their native counties, and in getting them exempted
               from exit exam requirements, thereby making it easier to get completion credit.
               Childcare is also valuable, and is requested externally for those centers that lack
               space (i.e., South Dade Adult). Extending the amount of trimesters of vocational
               tuition offered beyond three would really help, as this is a glaring issue, especially
               for some of the most popular courses like Practical Nursing and Auto Mechanics.
               More basic computer skills courses would be beneficial, as would life skills/how
               to navigate the US system. However, in this day of accountability/completion
               rates, these types of community based classes that never offer LCPs/OCPs are
               More money and for a longer period of time.
              Keep providing money even when they begin working to make the transition
              Make childcare services more accessible.
              I94 should be available for a period of 2 years for those who arrive through the
               southwest border.

MIAMI-DADE Refugee Task Force                                         August 14, 2009 Meeting Minutes

              Refugees have to pay for adjustment papers (i.e. EAD) with no jobs so then they
               can’t work because they have no money and no papers.
              People can’t use all the trainings offered because they need to work as soon as
               possible and have to drop classes. This is also because the schedule of classes is
               not very flexible.
              There is a disconnect between PRM and ORR.
              Transportation is an issue and not all providers give discounted bus passes.
              There is a need to include the money and the slots in Match Grant.
              Slots have decreased from 3,000 to 1,500 but the number of refugees increased.
              Slots are going to other part of the country.
              Expand programs related to job placement, recertification and case management.
               Create programs to address housing needs including transitional housing assistance
               programs. Incorporate refugee mental health screenings into the health screening
               process and incorporate mental health services into the existing compliment of
               R&P and integration services.
                   o A. Extended period of intensive case management to allow for greater
                        hands on education to assist refugees in learning how to independently
                        meet their needs in the U.S. while having the security of knowing their
                        current needs are being addressed.
                   o B. Job training and job coaching using a similar model to Voc Rehab will
                        allow refugees to be placed in jobs that offer a more livable wage and will
                        increase the likelihood of maintaining that employment.
                   o C. Given the lack of adequate public transportation in many parts of
                        Florida it would be very helpful to provide driving training programs for
                        refugees so that they can eventually get around by car. In some areas our
                        refugees are utilizing the refugee savings programs to purchase cars, but
                        have no way of learning how to drive or preparing to pass the exam to get
                        a license.
                   o D. Mental health services specifically developed to meet the needs of
                        refugees who have may have many different conflicting issues and are not
                        open to, or fear the stigma of, traditional westernized mental health.
              More cash for the refugee to settle in, help with getting a place to stay ,
               transportation issues, need of a centralized case management that could assess
               particular needs of the refugee and help them navigate the system to get the help
               they need through other refugee providers or services available in the community
               for everyone.

   4. Are there some groups of refugees for whom the current range of benefits and
      services are particularly inadequate and how/why? (e.g. elderly, disabled, large

              Extending benefits to non-Cuban/Haitians beyond five years of eligibility and
               including non-Cuban/Haitian parolees/entrants or asylum applicants could be

MIAMI-DADE Refugee Task Force                                          August 14, 2009 Meeting Minutes

               considered. Also, 16 and 17 year olds, who are available for SAVES services,
               are often turned away from high schools as too old, but from service providers as
               being too young(under 18). Other groups that currently need a contract manager’s
               exemption are those 65 and older or disabled but come in with a SS
               Administration letter. This letter should be treated the same as a service provider’s
               employment referral, sufficient evidence to be entered directly into the program
               without the contract manager’s waiver. Also, it seems that Haitians being granted
               parole has slowed to a trickle, adversely affecting those SAVES sites that
               predominantly serve them.
              VOLAGS are seeing refugees that find jobs with no benefits so that once RMA is
               over, they don’t have health insurance.
              75% of the jobs don’t have benefits.
              Now it is worse because the companies are cutting benefits.
              Also companies are paying with company checks and not taking out deductions
               so refugees have to report that on their own. They end up using the money and
               later find themselves without money to pay taxes.
              As mentioned in number 1, those refugees coming from countries (i.e. Burma) with
               vastly different systems who have a greater learning curve than others need more
               than what is currently offered. Our system is designed to work for those
               individuals who can get and keep a job within an extremely short period of time,
               and quickly master all aspects of American life that those of us who are born here
               take years to learn. Individuals with mental health issues, disabilities, the elderly,
               and the illiterate all struggle immensely with this set up adding to their stressors
               increasing their anxiety and depression which only complicates things further.
               These individuals often times end up dependent on other social service/welfare
               programs for prolonged periods of time. Torture survivors and those who have
               suffered severe war trauma could benefit from extended services that would help
               them to heal and reconstruct their lives.
              Current services are not wholly adequate because they do not address to
               underlying cause of the problem - the trauma that some refugees have survived
               and how it effects their ability to integrate. Studies have shown that those who
               have had the benefit of intensive case management and an inter-disciplinary
               approach to services have had a reduction in PTSD, anxiety and depressive
               symptoms. While there is not a desire to pathologize these populations, a trauma-
               informed approach to care and services would help refugees heal and integrate
               more successfully.
              For all of the above mentioned groups services available are inadequate for the
               elderly there needs to be a case manager to help them access the many services
               available for them in the community, for the disabled as well, for large families
               housing is huge issue.

MIAMI-DADE Refugee Task Force                                          August 14, 2009 Meeting Minutes

   5. Do you think this community has the capacity to successfully absorb the number
      of refugees that arrive yearly (e.g. in terms of housing, jobs, available services)

              In Miami, certainly way more yes than no. We absorbed tens of thousands at a
               time before, when this was a much smaller and unprepared community, so yes,
               after some initial crisis, most of the infrastructure seems to be in place so that this
               could be handled. The only question is that with the Orange Bowl gone, where will
               the party be after the bearded one dies.
              Miami was able to do so in 1980 and there is still a community will to do so and
               continue to do so.
              Community demographics show that a large part of people in the community are
              We have programs in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade
               Counties and all appear to be able to handle the number of new arrivals annually.
               The economic situation has certainly placed a strain on housing and employment,
               but we are seeing some signs that this is beginning to level off and hopefully will
               begin to recover soon. With current funding levels, this provider is able to provide
               and expand services. Budgets cuts in 09/10 will have to be observed carefully to
               determine if we are still able to appropriately provide services.
              The community in terms of space has the capacity to receive more people, the
               problem is that there is no planning between federal, state and local officials on
               how the receiving community will be able to absorb and provide for the new
               arrivals services are scarce and inadequate .

   6. Do you think that the federal government is adequately providing for the cost of
      aiding new refugees? If no, do you think the local community
      (government/services/providers) is absorbing an increased cost?

              No
              Well, the SAVES Program certainly receives many services gratis at the school
               sites, such as free classroom space, utility costs, maintenance and security costs,
               and a ready supple of state certified instructors, besides other school board
              REVEST: Yes, receiving good support for their particular program. However,
               have identified mental health issues resulting from lack of jobs and not
               transitioning easily. They refer the cases.
              Survivor of Torture folks who do mental counseling definitely felt they did not have
               adequate support.
              Housing HUGE problem that is largely being absorbed by the local folks.

MIAMI-DADE Refugee Task Force                                          August 14, 2009 Meeting Minutes

              If no, do you think the local community (government/services/providers) is
               absorbing an increased cost? The current funds provided to new arrivals is not
               adequate to meet the needs of the families. In most instances it is not enough to
               cover housing and food let alone the need for clothes, school supplies, work
               supplies, transportation, etc. Yes I feel that state and local services are absorbing
               some of this increased cost, but they are not able to cover all of it and these forms
               of assistance are very time limited. There needs to be greater flexibility at the
               State Department and DHHS/ORR as a whole and the program's budget request
               to OMB and Congress. It does not adequately integrate the impact of funding
               decisions on expected performance. Greater linkages between resource requests
               and performance would allow funding decisions to be based on outcomes.
              Absolutely, the money set aside by the federal government falls short in addressing
               the short term needs not to even mention long term needs of the refugee. The state
               and the county have little provision and ultimately the community where the
               refugee settles in will have to pick up the tab.

   7. Do you perceive a problem of lack of coordination between national, state, and
      local actors in the resettlement process (e.g. State Department, Homeland
      Security, ORR, Refugee Services, County/City Governments, Volags, Service

              The Refugee Task Force of Miami, under the leadership of their new director, Mr.
               Hiram Ruiz, is certainly doing a great job in trying to bridge the lack of
               communication between the various entities, but more is needed. Unfortunately,
               the high turnover at many of these organizations hinders this cause. All in all, under
               Mr. Ruiz, the perception is that this is heading in the right direction. The FIU
               Acculturation conference last January was fantastic, more of them are needed.
              Yes but it is not an agency issues but a personality one.
              In Florida, the state is very involved and takes issues to a higher level.
              Need more coordination. If, even within the Task Force, many people are not
               meaningfully aware of the people and the services they officer, imagine in the
               larger scale.
              Lack of understanding between “above” (decision makers) and the grass roots
               (front lines) is the root to lack of coordination. The “grass roots” needs to be
               brought into the decision making process to assure that the practical realities are
               considered and vice-versa.
              Idea of a listserv or website any provider can access to obtain information about
               the groups that are projected to resettle in an area or a blog that providers and the
               international folks can communicate.
              From my perspective there appears to be improved communication and
               coordination between the state and local refugee service providers, however there
               continues to be a big disconnect between refugee services and many other
MIAMI-DADE Refugee Task Force                                         August 14, 2009 Meeting Minutes

               mainstream providers which creates challenges for assisting refugees with
               accessing these needed services. The ORR technical assistance groups (i.e.
               BRYCS, Mercy Housing, etc) have been very good at trying to improve
               coordination between all levels of government and service provider involvement.
               It would be very beneficial if WRAPS was more accessible to affiliates and other
               contracted refugee service providers. In particular, information about the
               persecution claim, pre-existing medical issues and other observable concerns
               identified in overseas processing would be beneficial for R&P, Integration and
               other contracted service providers to know about to appropriately provide and
               refer refugees to services. Targeted information about large groups being
               identified may help providers to adequately prepare themselves, staff and
               community providers about the challenges certain groups may face. This would
               lead to proper planning and better outcomes for the refugees, their communities
               and the providers providing services.
              No one talks to each other to plan each agencies is driven by data and less and
               less emphasis is place on making the resettlement of an individual or family
               successful , some agencies are driven by how many individuals they are able to
               place in different parts of the country they are not taking into account the how
               hard it is going to be for someone who is accustomed to a hot climate and
               sending them to Nebraska to adjust and integrate. It makes the job of the agency
               that is tasked to provide employment and other services much harder and almost
              Have quarterly meeting/ training with the line front worker to analyze trends and
               discuss mainstream services.

   8. What are your major concerns, if any, about the overall system in place for
      assisting new refugees?

              Personally, given the logistics of this whole system, what is being done now is
               fantastic, as is the direction of Mr. Ruiz. Even though there is the opportunity to
               either get into administration or pursue outside interests, there is nothing else as
               exciting and rewarding as this career. We at the SAVES Program are grateful for
               the opportunity.
              There are different agendas but the main concern should be that there is not
               enough funding.
              UNHCR points are valid. VOLAGS have their agendas and tell everyone else
               what to do but don’t follow what they say to do.
              There is a disconnect between national HQ and local affiliates. Some affiliates feel
               that they do receive support from their national offices but others find that they
               need a more collaborative relationship versus hierarchical.
              Refugee resettlement in the US has become more bureaucratic and less

MIAMI-DADE Refugee Task Force                                            August 14, 2009 Meeting Minutes

               The US government puts lots of controls in the programs because they can’t
                control other immigrant populations.
               Prepare local communities for the refugee populations that are projected –
                language, literacy rate, cultural sensitivities. The better informed the providers are,
                the more they can prepare to deliver the services in a meaningful way. Some
                examples brought up:
                     o Story of a bldg. manager who put up a bunch of signs about XYZ and no
                          one changed behavior. He later discovered that most were illiterate so
                          made a video to communicate message – it worked.
                     o If X community knows that a good number of X refugees are coming that
                          may have experienced trauma, can better anticipate mental counseling and
                          interpreter services for that level of communication.
               It is not enough, and this creates additional stressors on families and providers that
                are already under tremendous stress thereby making the resettlement process even
                more challenging. If the goal is self-sufficiency we need to provide our families
                with adequate tools to achieve successful, sustainable, self-sufficiency that will
                allow them to be productive thriving members of our society instead of remaining a
                marginalized fringe barely getting by and continuing to be a burden on the social
                welfare system. More information prior to arrival, stagger arrivals so that there is
                even flow throughout the year instead of the mass push in the final quarter of every
                fiscal year.
               There are too many holes in the system, for example the 5years CAP is a nice
                target, but in realty very few refugees are fully integrated by that time. The
                placement of individuals throughout the many states has to be planned. The
                refugee coming need needs a more realistic view of what they may be faced with
                living in the US. Integration should be geared at client to help them address
                particular needs.

After the meeting Hiram incorporated many of the suggestions into the letter he sent to the
National Security Council at the White House regarding resettlement in Florida.

Hiram introduced and welcomed Jerome D. Senior as the new IT addition to the Southern
Region. He has relocated from Refugee Services in Tallahassee to Miami.

Meeting adjourned at 12:15 pm.

Date:     Friday, September 11, 2009             @ 10:00 am

Location:       DCF – ACCESS University Service Center
                1605 SW 107 Ave. Suite 202-A Miami, Fl 33165

MIAMI-DADE Refugee Task Force                               August 14, 2009 Meeting Minutes

Contact:      Adria Dilme     (305) 377-7518
Contact:      Lourdes Leconte   (305) 376-1947


Shared By: