Spartanburg, SC update: Citizens want resettlement agency/feds to present a plan to the community for public review and discussion
Posted by Ann Corcoran on March 31, 2015
Update and correction: Pastor Chris Pollard has asked us to make it clear to our readers that his organization, Come Closer Spartanburg, has not asked for nor received any federal funding for resettlement of refugees in Spartanburg. We are glad to report that his group’s Christian charity comes from their members and not the federal treasury. I wish we could say the same of World Relief. Here is his statement to us:
Please note that our partnership network, our individual churches, nor myself, have ever been approached about being used as a funnel for money from the federal government for refugee resettlement. We have not asked for, nor have we received any money. That statement is without basis and inaccurate.
Our recent post on an announcement that federal refugee resettlement contractor World Relief (National Assoc. of Evangelicals) plans to begin resettling third world refugees (they mention Syrians, Congolese and Bhutanese) in Spartanburg, South Carolina very soon, was one of the top-read posts of all time here at RRW.
The local organization that US State Department contractor World Relief has chosen to funnel funds to is ‘Come Closer Spartanburg’ organized by Pastor Chris Pollard. According to ‘Come Closer’s’ website the Pastor Jason Lee, who will be employed by World Relief/US State Department to run the resettlement in Spartanburg, recently received training at World Relief headquarters in Baltimore, MD.
Jason will be traveling to World Relief Home Office in Baltimore, Maryland, for orientation and training during the month of March.
By the way, we learned that the plan for “seeding” refugees in Spartanburg had been in the works for some time before the citizens of the small city were ever informed.
The federal contractor (one of nine major contractors), World Relief, is approximately 68% taxpayer funded (2012 Form 990) as we reported here. That is not as awful as some of the others that are 98-99% funded by you, but nevertheless, little of their “Christian charitable” work with refugees comes from private charity. They are virtually an arm of the federal government!
They couldn’t exist at all without the massive infusion of federal dollars (approaching $39 million for World Relief in 2012).
Every new town or city faced with a proposal to become a refugee resettlement site, please pay attention.
You must insist, as citizens in Spartanburg are doing, that the federal government, its contractors and subcontractors prepare a comprehensive impact statement for your town as Ms. Jeffrey does yesterday at the Herald-Journal.
If they can’t sell the plan to the community with all the facts in plain view, then the resettlement plan isn’t one your town or city should accept.
Christina Jeffrey (emphasis is mine):
Recently, I was surprised to learn that there is a “Spartanburg faith group to help refugees resettle here,” (Herald-Journal, March 9 edition). Apparently an invitation was given a year ago to a refugee contractor, World Relief, to set up an office in Spartanburg and begin receiving refugees.
According to Herald-Journal staff writer Kim Kimzey’s article, a community group called Come Closer Spartanburg issued the invitation to World Relief. On its website, Come Closer Spartanburg describes the city of Spartanburg as “home to what has been identified as the fifth most dangerous neighborhood in the United States. We have extremely high rates of unemployment, poverty and domestic violence. Overall, we were recently listed as the fourth most ‘miserable’ city to live in our country. It does not take long to realize that we are a city in need of transformation.”
The group must believe that bringing refugees here will help transform what in its opinion is a poor, benighted city. But the question has to be asked: How can we be assured that this transformation will make Spartanburg safer? I, too, am concerned about safety in Spartanburg and somewhat alarmed by some of the statistics we’ve seen in recent years about crime in our area.
I looked into the issue of refugees and how they are being vetted. Refugees are identified by an agency of the United Nations, and the State Department has agreed to take 9,000 this year (with 500 already here) from Syria alone. The United Nations expects the number of refugees fleeing the violence in Syria to reach 4.27 million by December, and these refugees are now the largest group under the U.N. refugee agency’s mandate. Recently, Michael Steinbach, assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, told the House Homeland Security Committee that there is no way to properly vet these refugees from Syria.
On March 16, I attended the South Carolina National Security Conference in Columbia. At the conference, there was a great deal of discussion about the refugee resettlement program and the problems it is causing for American communities.
Apparently contractors are well paid by the State Department to settle refugees, but after six months the newcomers are often on their own. If they settle here, the residents and taxpayers of Spartanburg County may be on their own to figure out how to help them, because by then World Relief may be taking care of a new crop of refugees.
Looking at other U.S. cities with new refugee communities, it appears that contractors often keep sending refugees to the same place until there is a community within a community. Unassimilated communities have created problems in Europe, and we are beginning to have similar problems here in the United States (witness Milwaukee, Wis., and Lewiston, Maine). [Minneapolis and St. Cloud, MN are really feeling the strain with an onslaught of Somali refugees. And remember! No matter what the contractor promises, your community is NOT GOING TO CHOOSE THE ETHNIC GROUPS YOU WILL GET!—Ed]
If our county is going to sponsor refugees, then the director of the new World Relief settlement office in Spartanburg, Come Closer Spartanburg and anyone or any group behind this project should work together on a plan for resettling any refugess they are expecting to bring here.
It is only fair to the refugees as well as the people of Spartanburg to have a detailed plan for the settlement and to provide impact statements for us. Impact statements should include plans for housing, transportation, county schools, employment, health care, skills training, social services, public safety, etc.
When World Relief and its allies have their master settlement plan (and impact statements) ready for public inspection, it would be appropriate for the City Council and County Council, along with our legislative delegation, to call a meeting to present this information to the people of Spartanburg and allow us to ask questions and learn more about how the plan will affect us, our families and our communities.
Failing to plan is planning to fail.
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