Readers, this (below) is what I am sending to the US State Department today. If you have followed RRW for years you will recognize this as a modification of the first testimony I sent in 2012. Frankly, nothing much has changed!
Some things have gotten worse. Only one issue I raised then has been improved—they get the ORR Annual Reports to Congress done more quickly. They still aren’t getting them to Congress when the law says they should, but almost.
One issue that is much worse is the prospect that an Islamic terrorist could slip into the refugee flow to America with the huge increase in the number of refugees coming from Syria, Iraq and Somalia.
However, for the first time in the almost 9 years I’ve written this blog, there is a little window of hope that the Refugee Admissions Program could be dramatically altered if President Donald Trump does half of what he says he will do (and Congress does its job of reviewing the entire program).
If Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders are elected President, this program will continue on steroids. There will be no reform.
Here are ten points slightly modified, but essentially the same as I sent to the State Department 4 years ago.
Ten Reasons there should be no refugees resettled in the US in FY2017—instead a moratorium should be put in place until the program is reformed (or abolished), the economy completely recovers, and we are assured that security screening will protect us.
1) Refugees take jobs that low-skilled Americans and teens need. The program was never meant to be simply a way to import impoverished people to the US and place them on an already overtaxed welfare system. Those that do find work are taking jobs that American citizens need.
2) The program has become a cash cow for various ‘religious’ organizations and other contractors who very often appear to care more about the next group of refugees coming in (and the cash that comes with each one) than the group they resettled only a few months earlier. Stories of refugees suffering throughout the US are rampant.
Indeed, there is no accountability for the billions of tax payer dollars going to the program. Short of a complete halt to resettlement-by-contractor, taxpayers should be protected by legally requiring financial audits of contractors and subcontractors on an annual basis.
3) Terrorist organizations have threatened to use the program that still clearly has many failings in the security screening system. Indeed consideration should be given to halting the resettlement of Muslims altogether. Also, the UN should have no role in choosing refugees for the US. There is no reason we can’t make the decision about who we want to ‘welcome’ to America without UN meddling.
4) The public is not confident that screenings for potential terrorists (#3) or the incidences of other types of fraudulent entry are being properly and thoroughly investigated and stopped. When fraud is uncovered—either fraud to enter the country or illegal activity once the refugee has been resettled—punishment should be immediate deportation.
5) Congress has not specifically disallowed the use of the refugee program for other purposes of the US Government, especially using certain refugee populations to address other foreign policy objectives—Uzbeks, Kosovars, Meshketians, Syrians, Iraqis, Somalis, and Bhutanese (Nepalese) people come to mind.
6) The State Department and the ORR have so far failed to adequately determine and report (and track once the refugee has been admitted) the myriad communicable and costly-to-treat diseases entering the country with the refugee population. Refugees suffering from serious (and expensive) mental health issues should be screened-out.
7) There is no process for alerting communities to the impending arrival of refugees that includes reports from the federal government (with local input) about the social and economic impact a certain new group of refugees will have on a city or town. Such a report should be presented to the public through public hearings and the local government must have an opportunity to say ‘no.’
8) The federal government should not be acting as head-hunter for corporations (like the meatpackers!). Congress needs to investigate and specifically disallow any connection between this program and big businesses looking for cheap and captive labor.
9) If Congress and the President determine we must have some refugee program, a mechanism should be established that would help a refugee go home if he or she is unhappy or simply can’t make it in America.
10) If during a moratorium, the Congress and the President decide that a refugee program of some sort is needed, the VOLAG system should be completely abolished and the program should be run by state agencies with accountability to the public through their state legislatures. The system as presently constituted is surely unconstitutional. (One of many benefits of turning the program over to a state agency is to break up the government/contractor employee revolving door that is being demonstrated now at both the State Department and ORR.)
For these reasons and more, the Refugee admissions program should be placed on hold and a serious effort made by Congress to either scrap the whole thing or reform it during the moratorium. My recommendation for 2017 is to stop the program now.
The Office of the President/US State Department could indeed ask for Congressional hearings to review the Refugee Act of 1980-–more than three decades is time enough to see its failings and determine if reauthorization is feasible or if a whole new law needs to be written.