– President Trump’s recent Executive Orders targeting immigration and refugee resettlement in the United States have resulted in layoffs and service reduction in the Ascentria Care Alliance Services for New Americans (SNA) program
. Ascentria is contracted with government agencies to resettle newly arrived refugees assigned to Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
Although the first Executive Order signed in late January halting refugee resettlement was stayed by the courts, most of the important services that Ascentria provides to refugees have slowed or stopped altogether. The recently revised Executive Order resets the clock, pausing refugee resettlement for 120 days beginning March 16, and retains the stipulated reduction in refugees arriving into the United States in FY 2017 from 110,000 to 50,000 – a 64 percent decrease.
“Our Services for New Americans program is greatly impacted by these orders, and future program funding at this point is unknown,” states Angela Bovill, Ascentria’s president and CEO. “What we do know is that refugee resettlement in our country will be significantly reduced by the new administration.” Currently, there are no new refugees scheduled in Ascentria’s SNA program, and no expectation of new arrivals over the next several months.
“Realizing the consequence of these changes, we took the time to carefully review their impact to our SNA program and to our entire organization,” affirms Tim Johnstone, executive vice president of Ascentria’s Community Services division. “We wanted to be sure we fully understood all of our potential options before making any decisions impacting our staff and services.
“What became clear is that the level of uncertainty about the future of refugee resettlement in the U.S. requires that we scale down our program until we have more definitive information,” adds Johnstone. “Unfortunately, these changes include staff reductions and the elimination of SNA positions in all three program locations (Worcester and Westfield, MA and Concord, NH). In total, 20 employees are impacted by full layoffs or reduced hours, and four open positions are eliminated.” Additional reductions have been made in administrative departments. Managers and staff affected by these changes were notified on Monday, March 13, and many impacted staff departed Ascentria on Friday, March 17.
“We wish we had other options available, but without SNA program revenue and clients to serve, we cannot continue to fund these areas at their present levels,” states Johnstone.
Impacted employees are encouraged to consider Ascentria’s open positions for opportunities they may be qualified for and interested in. An expedited process has been created to make it easier for those individuals to apply. Additionally, resume and job search guidance is being offered to assist impacted staff.
“Unfortunately, this is a difficult but necessary step to take for Ascentria to remain a strong and viable organization,” adds Bovill. “We most sincerely appreciate the dedication and hard work of all of those affected by these changes. They have truly made a difference in the lives of others.”
In the interim, Ascentria’s SNA program continues to support existing resettled refugees with case management, language classes, workforce development and employment services, microenterprise and immigration legal assistance, SNAP-Education and connections to other community resources.