Letter: Where’s the ‘charity’ in Afghans’ resettlement?

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Jessica Wakeman’s Nov. 10 Mountain Xpress news article about the Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte helping in resettling Afghan refugees in Asheville was very sympathetic to the needs of these displaced people [“Replanted: 40 Afghan Refugees Being Resettled in Asheville”]. They are indeed very unfortunate in having to leave their homeland in such haste.

I have no objection to the process of resettling refugees in our area. What I take issue with is the fact that it is made to sound like the Catholic Diocese is providing this as a charitable activity.

Nowhere in her article was it stated that the federal government is paying the Catholic Charities around the country and likely other faith-based “charities” to provide these services. In this case, they aren’t providing charity at all but being paid for their services. U.S. taxpayers are paying for this “charity” work and not the Catholic Diocese. Therefore, what they’re performing isn’t charity work at all.

— Dennis Kabasan

Editor’s note: Thank you for the feedback on the article. Its focus was on the evacuees’ adjustment to Asheville, though it did mention the federal government’s Operation Allies Welcome program.

Regarding funding specifics, Xpress contacted the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte with a summary of the writer’s points, and we received the following response from Sandy Buck, regional director of Catholic Charities with the Diocese of Charlotte: “Refugee resettlement is a partnership between the U.S. government and agencies such as Catholic Charities. We operate under the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which resettles nearly one in five refugees arriving in this country. While the government provides some funding for direct assistance to refugees and expenses associated with our services, Catholic Charities must match a percentage of funds through cash and in-kind donations from people of goodwill, including citizens, foundations and businesses. This can equate to $180,000 a year. The government funding is barely enough to cover one month’s rent for a refugee in most major cities, so Catholic Charities supplements funding for food, clothing and utilities as we arrange for employment to help them become self-sufficient. We also arrange for housing, medical care, transportation, school enrollment and cultural orientation. It is our calling to welcome the stranger, house the homeless, clothe the naked and feed the hungry.”


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