The official promoter of Obama’s progressive “refugee resettlement industry” has been “internally displaced” himself. After living like a refugee in Puerto Rico since October, Lawrence Bartlett was disappointed to learn he isn’t going to return to his previous duties, at least not yet. The Obama holdover had been furthering liberal deep state immigration policies since 2010, despite Trump’s opposing goals.
Instead of returning home to his comfortable desk at the Population, Refugees and Migration Bureau, Bartlett’s latest “temporary assignment” is notorious in State Department circles as “being sent to Siberia.” According to one insider, “the FOIA office was always the punch line of a joke around here, as in: ‘They’ll send me to the FOIA office,’”
The civil service veteran is livid about his new temporary senior adviser post. “I can assure you that I have NOT been permanently reassigned from my position with the refugee program,” he insists. He should at least be thankful for the fact he is back on the U.S. mainland.
The biggest impact Bartlett had on the influx of refugees was to shift the focus from “vulnerable” refugees to ones who can “assimilate.” According to the Center for Immigration Studies, “The refugee resettlement program is a protection tool available to the most vulnerable refugees, such as victims of torture, gender-based violence, or extreme trauma, or those in need of special care they cannot find in their country of refuge. Or so we were told over and over again by U.S. officials.”
Under Obama, that shifted and Bartlett wasn’t shy about the change. “We’re primarily using this as a humanitarian tool coupled with foreign policy interests,” he said. “It’s pretty traditional that the hotel industry, the meat packing plants, other entry-level jobs have been widely open to refugees and in fact, refugees really aren’t competing with Americans for many of these jobs, they’re taking jobs that are otherwise unfilled. And refugees frankly do quite well. And we’ve been even petitioned by some industries to resettle more refugees in their locations because they find refugees to be such good workers.”
By now, Bartlett should have more of an appreciation for why some refugees are more “vulnerable” than others. Trump State Department officials felt his “more than 25 years of experience in humanitarian and development work, including experience working on natural disaster relief,” made him well suited for slogging through mud without electricity for a while. At the end of October, he was shipped off “on temporary duty in Puerto Rico assisting FEMA with hurricane recovery efforts.”
Left-leaning immigrant right groups got nervous when Bartlett wasn’t copied in on internal memos until the Department announced “Mr. Bartlett is on temporary duty in Puerto Rico,” noting that the Deputy Director, Kelly Gauger, was taking charge in his absence.
“That helps answer rumors we have heard that Mr. Bartlett has been removed from his position in the Bureau of Population Refugees and Migration because of tensions with the White House,” Refugee Resettlement Watch’s Ann Corcoran notes. “The voluntary agencies who are contracted and paid by the federal government to resettle refugees are in a panic,” she declares, “They believe their longtime ally and promoter, Bartlett, is on his way out.”
Bartlett came in at number 9 on the “list of the top ten holdover Obama loyalist bureaucrats President Trump can either fire immediately or remove from their current positions” Breitbart put out last February. “Political appointees” can be fired by the president for any reason but permanent “Civil Services” employees are a different story. Even though they can’t be fired, they can be “removed from their current positions.”
During his tenure with PRM, “Bartlett has been an active apologist for the refugee resettlement industry.” For instance, when communities voiced concerns about safety issues from unvetted migrants being bused to their neighborhoods, Bartlett responded, “communities certainly have a say in what happens. We would not bring refugees to any city in the United States that wasn’t going to be safe for the refugees.”
As heads started spinning to take in that remark, he added, “I put a little twist on that on purpose. As someone who is resettling a refugee, I would not take them to a place where I felt the refugees themselves, were going to be unsafe. The point is, if this was not a welcoming community, refugees wouldn’t be coming here.” That didn’t make anyone feel much safer.