Unhappy is probably a mild description of the mood of refugee activists inside and outside the government with the posting of Andrew Veprek, described as an aide to the White House’s resident monster, Stephen Miller, to a post as Deputy Asst. Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM).
Politico says that inside the agency, other staff might resign in protest.
(They obviously are convinced Veprek is on the side of slowing the refugee flow to America. And, for the record, I don’t know him, so I couldn’t say.)
Here is Politico reporting the latest discouraging news for the once prosperous refugee industry:
A White House aide close to senior policy adviser Stephen Miller who has advocated strict limits on immigration into the U.S. has been selected for a top State Department post overseeing refugee admissions, according to current and former officials.
Andrew Veprek’s appointment as a deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) is alarming pro-immigration activists who fear that President Donald Trump is trying to effectively end the U.S. refugee resettlement program.
Current and former officials also describe Veprek’s appointment as a blow to an already-embattled refugee bureau.
The Deep State blabs to Politico:
Veprek is a Foreign Service officer detailed to the White House, which listed him as an “immigration adviser” in a 2017 staff document. He has worked closely there with Miller and the Domestic Policy Council, according to a current State official and a former one in touch with people still serving in the department. A former U.S. official also confirmed the appointment.
In interagency debates, some administration officials have viewed Veprek as representing Miller’s hard-line views about limiting entry into the U.S. for refugees and other immigrants.
Veprek played an influential role in Trump administration’s December withdrawal from international talks on a nonbinding global pact on migration issues. He also argued in favor of dramatically lowering the nation’s annual cap on refugee admissions, the current and former officials said.
“He was Stephen Miller’s vehicle,” the former State official said. The current official predicted that some PRM officials could resign in protest over Veprek’s appointment.
“My experience is that he strongly believes that fewer refugees should admitted into the United States and that international migration is something to be stopped, not managed,” the former U.S. official said, adding that Veprek’s views about refugees and migrants were impassioned to the point of seeming “vindictive.”
Veprek’s appointment as a deputy assistant secretary is unusual given his relatively low Foreign Service rank, the former and current State officials said, and raises questions about his qualifications. Such a position typically does not require Senate confirmation. [It is significant that Trump has still not chosen an Asst. Secretary for PRM because that job does require Senate confirmation—a hellstorm they are apparently avoiding.—ed]
The White House referred questions to the State Department. A State Department spokesperson confirmed Veprek’s new role and, while not describing his rank, stressed that Veprek comes to PRM “with more than 16 years in the Foreign Service and experience working on refugee and migration issues.”
The PRM bureau, like several other bureaus at the State Department, does not yet have an assistant secretary to lead it. People familiar with the bureau say the morale among its employees has sunk to unusually low levels as top officials have left or been reassigned and amid the anti-refugee messages emanating from the White House. But initial worries that Tillerson would scrap the bureau completely have faded, at least for now, as the secretary has scaled back plans to restructure the department.
In another report on the “refugee hard-liner”, The Hill says this of Trump’s reduction in the number of refugees to be admitted to the US:
The move signaled that there would no longer be a need for all of the 324 resettlement offices that were operating in 2017.
As we reported extensively in the waning years of the Obama Administration, the State Department was on a high identifying as many as 40 prospective NEW resettlement sites.
Elections have consequences after all.
But the consequences come with a time stamp and if there is no move to reform the UN/US Refugee Admissions Program by Congress, by changing the law, during the Trump Administration, the program will simply pick up where it left off when a new President (without Trump’s guts) comes in, bumps the numbers up, opens those offices and away they will go!
Where is Congress?