Another “pocket of resistance?” LOL! I can see “Welcoming America” scurrying to Athens at this very minute!
In July we reported on a plan by US State Department contractor—International Rescue Committee (IRC)—to open an office and begin resettling Congolese refugees to Athens, GA. See that story by clicking here.
Now comes news (hat tip: Joanne) that the Democratic mayor, Nancy Denson, is throwing cold water on the scheme by asking the IRC to “present a formal refugee integration plan.” That is exactly what every town or city faced with this crisis (yes, a crisis when a refugee contractor comes to your town!) should do—demand a plan for public review.
There must be a social and economic impact statement prepared!
In the early days of writing this blog, when I thought reform of the program was possible, I had suggested that every location faced with the surprise notice that the US State Department, the Office of Refugee Resettlement and their contractors were planning to set up shop in their town should ask the federal government to prepare a social and economic impact statement (which included gathering information from the public through public meetings) modeled after the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) which requires an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) when federal money/federal action is being used for a project in a local community that might significantly effect the “natural or human environment.”
The refugee/migrant impact statement would include such measures as the economic costs to local and state government (schools etc). Health needs of the arriving population would have to be assessed in conjunction with the local health department. It would answer whether there was a good likelihood of the refugee ethnic group fitting in to the community. Is there adequate housing for newcomers that does not take away from the local needy? Where will they work? And, the final plan would put a cap on the number arriving (similar to the carrying-capacity concept of the natural environment). My concept calls for the plan to be reviewed and updated every few years.
It occurs to me in writing this, that in fact, since NEPA does address the impact on the human environment of a federal project, a sharp lawyer could possibly force the federal government to do an EIS for a new or expanding refugee resettlement plan.
So here is the latest news from Athens. It doesn’t matter whether the mayor is a Democrat or Republican, any elected official with a brain can see that bringing hundreds of mostly illiterate people to a community is going to have an impact and thus asking questions in advance is the sensible thing to do!
From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:
Mayor Nancy Denson is seeking to put the brakes on plans to resettle 150 refugees in Athens-Clarke County in the coming months, according to records obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
In a letter to Georgia officials this week, the Democratic mayor complained that the International Rescue Committee did not reach out to enough people in her community early enough about its plans. She also raised concerns that the refugees could strain public resources in Athens-Clarke County, which is home to about 120,000 residents.
The IRC has proposed resettling refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Myanmar and Syria in the region over the next fiscal year. Denson said she wants the IRC to delay its efforts and to “present a formal refugee integration plan” to local elected officials and others.
“Serving refugees will add a burden to local charitable and other public resources, including safety net services,” Denson wrote Monday to Michael Singleton, Georgia’s state refugee coordinator. “Refugee students may also place an inordinate service burden on the school district due to limited English proficiency by the students and their parents.”
A spokeswoman for Georgia’s Human Services Department said Wednesday that the state agency is working on a response to the mayor’s letter.
You can read the next section of the article yourself, here, where the IRC makes its pitch for why Athens is great for them.
The number of refugees coming to Georgia has been a source of controversy in recent years. Following requests from Gov. Nathan Deal’s administration for sharp cuts, the federal government has placed new limits on the number of refugees being resettled in Georgia. State officials started asking for reductions in 2012, citing worries that refugees are straining taxpayer-funded resources, including public schools.
Alarmed by the state’s position, resettlement agencies have been highlighting the economic benefits refugees bring. The agencies say refugees create a net gain for the state by working and paying taxes and attracting millions of dollars in federal aid to Georgia.
Another rare admission: Frankly refugee employment rates are abysmal, but here they admit that it is federal welfare money that flows to Georgia and other states along with the refugees as if Washington has a massive money tree, growing dollars by the bushel. This is the same dumb thing we heard from the Governor of Wyoming (a Republican!), who, in promoting his wished-for refugee program for that state, cited the federal dollars that would flow to the state—hey Gov! that is taxpayer money coming out of Wyomingites pockets too!
In addition to tax dollars that went to Washington and are benevolently (ha!) sent back, many of the needs of the refugees will come directly from local taxpayers for education, crime and health care.
We have a lot of posts on Georgia, go here for the complete archive. You might want to especially see the one from last week about the burden the ‘unaccompanied minors’ will have on one Georgia county.