NEWS: Gruenberg:”Don’t Hurt Alaska To Solve Refugee Crisis”

Rep. Max Gruenberg

Funding Request Deserves Consideration, But Not At Alaska’s Expense


Friday, Representative Max Gruenberg (D-Anchorage) wrote to U.S. Congressman Don Young, requesting his help in addressing the recent wave of child immigrants crossing the nation’s southwest border.  Gruenberg asked Young to approve $3.7 billion in emergency funding requested by the Obama Administration.

“Most Alaskans don’t realize this increased immigration has a significant impact on Alaska,” Gruenberg said.  “Unless Congress funds the Administration’s request, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) will be forced to reposition funds to deal with child immigrants.  If that happens, Alaska stands to see a cut of nearly half a million dollars to medical support for refugees, school impact grants for refugee youth, support for elderly refugees, and for general case management and employment services for all refugee new arrivals.”

Gruenberg encouraged Rep. Young to help solve the recent increase in child immigration with new funds, rather than crippling an existing program to fund the crisis response.  He says the ORR can find a new balance as needed in the years ahead, but an ill-considered response to this sudden crisis will lead to rushed decisions, loss of jobs in Alaska, and diminished support for helping refugees.

“These immigrant children need our help, but dismantling the Alaska state refugee program only creates two crises where before there was one, and taking from one vulnerable group to save another,” Gruenberg said.  “If Alaskans see refugees arriving in our state with inadequate support, refugees not finding jobs, and refugees becoming homeless, the “welcome refugee” sentiment in our state could evaporate.  The fight back to a positive place will be long, difficult, and uphill.”

Congress is expected to vote on the proposal this week.  A copy of Rep. Gruenberg’s letter is here:



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