On the day I sat down to write this I awoke to news of the most deadly mass shooting in U.S. history. As of this writing, at least 58 have been killed and 515 injured. The shooter has been identified as Stephen Paddock, a retiree with no criminal record. ISIS has claimed responsibility, but that claim has not been verified. The Washington Times did report that ISIS had aired a video in May threatening to attack Las Vegas.
While we do not yet know this shooter’s insane motives, the specter of Islamic terrorism immediately became suspect. The relationship between Islamic terrorism and the refugee resettlement program became a hot topic in 2015 and 2016 following the horrific attacks in France, San Bernardino, and Orlando. The Obama administration attempted to dismiss any relationship, but Attorney General Jeff Sessions has since revealed that of the 1,000 odd FBI terrorism investigations over 300 involved refugees.1
This concern was a major reason for Donald Trump’s surprise election, given his promises to pause the program, enforce border controls, and take other measures to secure our nation. With Trump’s election, however, and the Court’s wholly unconstitutional interference in his efforts, the refugee resettlement issue has been overtaken by other events and concerns, but it is no less important than it was before. In fact, it is more so.
We are at a tipping point in our society. Either we fight to survive or surrender to the forces of anarchy and despotism. The Left has gone to the mats to obstruct the Trump administration. It works in collusion with Islamic supremacists in an unholy alliance we call the Red-Green Axis. If they win, it spells the end for democratic elections.
For its part, the administration has missed many opportunities to push back, and seems to treat the Left’s unprecedented campaign as just business as usual. Yet even prominent Democrats have publicly advocated making America “ungovernable.” This sheer insanity defines the new normal in America.
Even following repeated terrorist attacks, Congress shows no signs of making any meaningful effort to stem the flow of immigration, legal and illegal, especially from Islamic countries. It would seem they simply accept terrorism as a normal element of life today. For his part, the president could go much further. Instead, we are treated to hyperventilating charges of “Islamophobia” and “racism” following any effort to even discuss the issue.
This is subversion. To the extent that we have any support among the political classes, it remains short-sightedly focused on making marginal, superficial changes with the overriding goal of maintaining the status quo. Nothing represents this situation better than the current state of our refugee resettlement program. Our nation needs a focused effort to ensure President Trump’s promises to control the border and reel in out-of-control immigration are implemented in full.
Refugee Resettlement Imports the Equivalent of a Large City Every Year
The refugee resettlement program is poorly understood, wildly out of control, and institutionally corrupt. In addition to the specter of importing Islamic terrorism through refugee resettlement, there are actually numerous other categories of people that bring many problems of their own.
President Trump attempted to impose a temporary travel ban from certain countries of terror concern and limit refugee resettlement to 50,000 individuals in fiscal year 2017. As a result of over-reaching court actions, this effort was partially stymied and 53,716 refugees were resettled to the U.S. The Supreme Court recently declined to hear lower court challenges to the travel bans because Trump has now issued a newer, broader ban, permanently barring most citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad, and North Korea.2 These are the most troublesome countries. It is a great development and may survive court challenge.
A refugee is defined as someone who either must leave or cannot return to his nation of residence due to “a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.” The UN has expanded that definition to include “someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence.”3 But the definition with universal acceptance comes from the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. That convention, and subsequent protocols, emphasize that individuals who have crossed an international border fleeing generalized violence are not considered refugees.4
One can easily understand why. Generalized violence exists everywhere. The UN currently counts over 60 million as “displaced persons.”5 Still, the United States accepts more refugees than all other nations combined. For fiscal year (FY) 2018, Trump has proposed a cap of 45,000. This is lower than the average — about 72,000 annually since 2000 — but it does very little to actually slow down the program. Table 1 (page 8) illustrates why.
Those accepted into the U.S. under the “refugee” definition are a much larger group than just those enrolled in the formal refugee resettlement program. There are asylum seekers (asylees), Cuban/Haitian Entrants, Trafficking Victims, Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs — for Iraq and Afghan citizens who assisted the U.S. military), and the Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) program. In total: an estimated 161,943 individuals in FY 2017. ( Note: the UAC program has existed since 1980. Responsibilities were transferred from the Immigration and Naturalization Service to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)’s Office of Refugee Resettlement in 2003.6 Statistics in table 1 are thus incomplete.)
Reducing refugee levels to 45,000 puts only a small dent in the total. Trump has taken other actions, however, that are reducing the numbers in other categories also. Trump border enforcement has resulted in lower UAC numbers, as well as illegal alien numbers overall. Following normalization of relations with Cuba, the Obama administration ended the so-called Cuban “wet foot/dry foot” program, which granted parole* status to any Cuban who reached our shores. The Cuban/Haitian Entrant program, which treats those populations like refugees and accords them all the same benefits, should thus decline as well. The 30,000 number is just a rough estimate based on prior history.
There is much fraud in the Asylum program. This never troubled the Obama administration, which saw every single immigrant, legal or otherwise, criminal or not, as a future Democrat voter. The Trump administration has made a commitment to toughen restrictions on asylum to prevent such fraud.7 With stronger enforcement, fewer people will seek to game the asylum system, so these numbers should decline as well.
The bold estimates in the table reflect all these changes. As a result, totals for all these groups should be substantially lower than in the past five years, but remain historically high if you examine the numbers going back to 1980 when the current refugee program began. The large numbers for 1980 and 1981 are due to the Cuban Mariel boatlift and the Vietnamese boat people crisis. However, in subsequent years totals were generally much lower until well into the Obama administration, when his open borders policies and nonexistent enforcement motivated a massive migration from Central America, Cuba, and elsewhere.
All of these groups are resettled either by the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) or HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), or both. The Department of Justice’s Executive Office of Immigration Review also decides certain asylum cases. Refugee vetting is managed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and is focused on processing, not screening for terrorism, fraud, or crime. As former DHS deputy assistant director A.J. Irwin explained:
When we send refugee officers over there to interview people, they have a mission and their mission is not to detect fraud or identify terrorists, it’s to process these people and get them into the system.8
The Trump FY 2018 budget reflects the lower anticipated number of arrivals in most refugee categories. His budget proposal reduces the domestic refugee program by 28 percent. So in addition to fewer people entering through these programs, the federal budget will get a break. But once again, these measures, while welcome, do nothing to alter the basic program. A new president could easily turn around and accelerate the program once again. The entire refugee resettlement program needs a major overhaul (table 2).
Refugees, asylum seekers, and others under the refugee umbrella are managed, assisted, and placed by nine private contractors called “Voluntary Agencies” (VOLAGs), with the support of 320 subcontractors called “affiliates.” Together these contractors receive over $2 billion annually — between $2,000 and $5,000 per refugee — for their resettlement work. This incentivizes unethical behavior, including secrecy, bribery, relentless lobbying, and marked insensitivity to the impacts refugees place on local communities.
Meanwhile, resettlement target communities are overwhelmed. For example, English Language Learner program costs for public school students in Lewiston, Maine, have increased 4,000 percent since 2000, and 27 percent of the student body now speaks 24 languages other than English.9 Somali refugees, originally resettled in Georgia, found out that Maine has one of the most generous welfare programs in the country. In 2001 they began to move en masse to Lewiston and today comprise approximately 17 percent of the city population.
Eighty-two languages are spoken in Manchester, NH public schools.10 Exotic diseases like multi-drug-resistant TB are routinely discovered among refugees, who are not adequately screened or treated. Eighty-eight percent of MDRTB cases are among the foreign born, according to the CDC. Three hundred of the approximately 1,000 ongoing FBI terror investigations involve refugees.
Groups covered by the 1980 Refugee Act are eligible for many different grant programs. The stated goal is to assist them in becoming “economically self-sufficient” as soon as possible. ORR publishes statistics boasting of refugee self-sufficiency at 120–180 days. However, ORR uses a special definition of “economic self-sufficiency” which only requires a refugee to be employed and ineligible for cash assistance. They can still receive all other forms of welfare. Despite the overwhelming support they receive, refugee groups continue to use welfare at rates far in excess of both native born and other immigrant groups, as table 3 (page 10) shows.
And even this isn’t the end of the story. Not included among refugee groups are families of asylum seekers (called Follow-to-Join, currently about 15,000 annually), families of trafficking victims, (another 1,000 people/year) certain other categories of Humanitarian Parole (numbers about which we can only guess) Temporary Protected Status (about 300,000 people have that status, with a few thousand more added every year) and family groups accompanying the UACs. This adds about another 100,000 to the mix annually. There is also the Diversity Visa lottery, which has allowed 50,000 annually from all over the globe since 1995. While these myriad other immigrant categories do not receive special benefits like refugee groups, they are typically poorly educated, low-skilled populations that swell welfare rolls.
The Diversity Visa is a prime example of how leftist nihilism is executed in public policy. They say “diversity is our strength” and will go to horrifying ends to defend it. When Nidal Hassan murdered 13 service members at Fort Hood in 2009, Army Chief of Staff George Casey said:
Our diversity, not only in our Army, but in our country, is a strength. And as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse.11
Incredible. He thinks those casualties are worth it. Would you like to serve under such a leader? Diversity is not a strength. Americans are the most welcoming, compassionate, and generous people on earth. Throwing disparate cultures, races, and ethnic groups together, however, is not a prescription for harmony, but for chaos.
The very existence of the pretentious “COEXIST” bumper sticker proves the point. It adorns the autos of conceited, sanctimonious, pretentious featherheads who think they comprise an enlightened, elite, “tolerant” few. They arrogate to themselves the right to lecture us bumpkins precisely because they think we are all so intolerant. It usually turns out, however, that those self-aggrandizing fools are the most intolerant of all. While expecting all the rest of us to get along, they reel at the thought of actually having to soil themselves by interacting with immigrants — unless of course to use them as low-cost housekeepers and gardeners.
The fact is that most third-world arrivals come with their own culture and very strong racial, ethnic, and cultural biases. Every population center has its Chinatown, its Salvadoran, Ethiopian, Somalian, Bhutanese, etc. neighborhood. Why? Because all peoples feel safest among their own kind; they speak the language, share the culture and beliefs. It is a politically incorrect but natural reaction. Assimilating to an alien culture requires real effort. And most people have enough trouble just getting by. The Left accommodates this by according “New Americans” every opportunity, while straining our tolerance by forcing us to pay for it with tax dollars and calling us bigots when we object. Do they really want racial, cultural, and ethnic harmony?
Because we have a free-market economy — something the Left is also intent on destroying — most try to get along in as much as necessary order to prosper. In that sense, our society is uniquely capable of assimilating diverse cultures better than others. But cultural clashes, crime, and chaos are the new normal in our increasingly “diverse” culture.
Still, while diversity is not our strength at all, it is indeed the Left and the Islamists’ strength. So they are being honest in a certain sense when they say “diversity is our strength.” It certainly is their strength, precisely because it contributes to the atmosphere of anarchy and unmanageability that enables their divide-and-conquer strategy. The Left is trying to turn our nation into a Tower of Babel, and in many communities, that has already occurred.
Trump has announced his intention to cancel the diversity visa program.12 However, so far, it remains in place. Congress has repeatedly attempted to revoke the law that created it, but has failed every time. Perhaps Trump will succeed where others have failed. We can only hope.
Finally, having obtained legal permanent resident status, refugees and other groups immediately apply for family members under the family reunification program. About 85 percent of the approximately 1 million immigrants who obtain legal permanent resident status in the U.S. each year enter either through one of the programs described above or under family reunification. Only about 15 percent receive green cards for work-related purposes.13
The entire immigration system is clearly out of control, but the refugee resettlement program is perhaps the worst. The federal government imposes impossible burdens on small communities by resettling endless streams of needy refugees. Objections are completely ignored, despite urgent pleas from local citizens and leaders — or worse, local leaders are smeared as “bigots” and leftwing organizations target them for electoral defeat. It’s enough to intimidate most into stony silence.
The federal government, and the VOLAGs through which it works, is supposed to collaborate with local communities and only resettle refugees when those communities are informed in advance and agree. However, this does not happen unless the community in question is “welcoming,” i.e., leaders actively encourage refugee resettlement.
Michigan’s Macomb and Oakland Counties are a case in point. VOLAGs conduct quarterly meetings every year as part of the consultation requirement. Macomb County aggressively promotes refugee resettlement, even touting “OneMacomb” as part of its county website, to promote “multiculturalism and inclusiveness.”14 It is number one in the state for refugee resettlement.15 Oakland County, next door, has received almost the same number of refugees, but the much more conservative, fiscally responsible county government was never invited to a single quarterly “consultation” meeting in its history. I attended the first one ever, last summer, after making a presentation to county officials last spring. They had been left out of the loop entirely.
Whether consulted or not, VOLAGs run roughshod over communities. For example, one Oakland County elementary school with 100 students was forced to take 200 more in one semester, with no additional resources provided to handle this tripling in the student body.16
Amarillo, Texas, was given 600 refugee children and told to make them more or less fluent in English in one year — an obvious impossibility. Tutors cost them $1,300 per student per month. The federal government provided $100 per student per year. Yet the VOLAGs claim state and local governments bear no costs of refugee resettlement.17
VOLAG members have participated in anti-Trump rallies, openly call refugee resettlement opponents “bigots,” etc., and enjoy strong support in the mainstream press. Professional defamation shops like the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), and the ACLU conspire with VOLAGs and the media to identify and attack opponents as “racists,” “bigots,” “Islamophobes.” One of the VOLAGs even published a manual “Resettlement at Risk” which advocates identifying local opponents and using the SPLC to smear them with the “bigot” label.18
Last year I traveled twice to Rutland, Vermont, to speak to concerned citizens about the program. Their mayor, Christopher Louras, had conspired in secret to initiate a resettlement program in Rutland with 100 Syrian refugees. He did not inform the city board — a requirement of the city charter. As Emila Merdzanovic, Vermont’s resettlement director for the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, told Louras in an email:
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of not sharing the information… move slowly, keep it to a small circle of people, and then expand... if we open it up to anybody and everybody, all sorts of people will come out of the woodwork. Anti-immigrant, anti-anything.19
Louras listened. He lined up “stakeholders,” that is, businesses and tax-exempt organizations that benefit from the flow of federal dollars, and responded by email:
We have expanded the group of ‘those who know,’ and are ready to have those discussions you’ve requested with potential employers and landlords…20
He waited six months to announce the program publicly, after he thought it was a done deal. The town hit the roof. America was still reeling from the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. Thirty-one governors had come out against Syrian resettlement. But it was not merely the 100 Syrians. Because VOLAGs are paid by the head to resettle refugees, any time a new resettlement office opens, the only way it can remain in business is to continue to resettle refugees every year. Furthermore, once an office is established, refugees can be resettled anywhere within a 50 to 100 mile radius of the new office, expanding business opportunities for the VOLAGs while affected communities are left in the dark about what is coming. Rutland and surrounding towns would soon begin to look like Lewiston and Manchester.
I was invited to Rutland to speak on the subject shortly thereafter. Following my talk to a standing-room-only crowd at the local library, the city newspaper of record, the Rutland Herald, published a defamatory front page article about me referencing the SPLC as an authority.21 A few weeks later they published another with the ominous title “Hate groups seen infiltrating Rutland.”22 Once again, I was the main culprit, with more references to the SPLC. The Herald published a third smear piece when I returned to speak again in September.
I wrote a rebuttal to each of these fatuous rants, reiterating the facts about this program that the American public has been denied for years by media like the Rutland Herald, and they refused to publish each one. Mayor Louras, meanwhile, was touted in local and national media as a hero. He traveled to other cities, speaking about the benefits of refugee resettlement and dismissing concerns as the ravings of Islamophobes and bigots.
Tim Cook, a founder of Rutland First, the organization that arranged my visit, is a popular local doctor who runs an urgent care clinic. He is a military veteran with five tours in the Middle East. Cook was quoted opposing the refugee program in a CNN interview.23 Shortly thereafter, Cook’s ratings on Internet doctor rating sites plummeted — driven by reviews from people who were not Rutland residents and had never visited Cook’s clinics. “I know every single person who has visited my clinic,” Cook told me. “I don’t recognize any of these names.”
The city residents weren’t fooled however. This past March, the mayor lost his election by almost 20 percentage points.24 Nationwide, Americans followed suit, making their feelings about immigration in general and refugee resettlement in particular known in November 2016 with the surprise upset victory of Donald Trump. There have been smaller demonstrations of defiance the mainstream media constantly overlooks.
The Thomas More Law Center launched a lawsuit against the federal government over “Wilson-Fish” regulations. These unconstitutional regulations — named for the original law’s two congressional sponsors —allow a private contractor to manage a state’s refugee resettlement program when a state decides to quit the program. States still must support refugees however, so the regulation represents an unfunded mandate. Sixteen states and one county currently operate under W-F regulations. In South Carolina, eight counties passed largely symbolic resolutions against refugee resettlement and the state legislature introduced three bills to rein in the program. The bills died in committee.
There are other such examples throughout the nation, but the resettlement contractors, in collusion with leftwing Democrats, establishment Republicans, businesses interested in low-wage labor and other beneficiaries have largely resisted meaningful change. But the worm may be turning.
This year Austria enacted a tough new policy on immigrants and asylum seekers. The law bans Muslim full-face veils and requires all immigrants attend a twelve-month integration course. They must learn the German language, Austria’s ethics, values, and culture, and provide public service at no charge.25 The law has been described as a political maneuver to counter the rising popularity of the more conservative FPÖ faction, which wants a stronger law.26
Trump may follow suit. In announcing its 45,000 cap for FY 2018, the Trump administration has indicated it will be considering the possibility of limiting refugee resettlement based on “likelihood of successful assimilation and contribution.”27
This would be a welcome change. Islamic leaders have explicitly stated that their goal is to avoid assimilation. Every Muslim’s favorite “Muslim progressive” (if that is not a contradiction in terms I don’t know what is) Linda Sarsour says, “Our number one and top priority is to protect and defend our community. It is not to assimilate and to please any other people in authority...”28
This view has been echoed by other Muslim leaders. London Mayor Sadiq Khan has offered similar counsel to American Muslims:
We need rules, institutions, and support to enable people to integrate into cohesive communities and for the avoidance of doubt, I don’t mean assimilation, I mean integration, and there’s a difference...People shouldn’t have to drop their cultures and traditions when they arrive in our cities and countries.29
So that sounds like a definite pitch for Muslim-only enclaves. And after that, if the European experience is precedent, the U.S. will soon be seeing the same kinds of lawless no-go zones that exist in France, Britain, and elsewhere. The violence and terrorism will likely increase as a result. Former President Obama called Sarsour a “Champion of Change.”30
The Obama administration allegedly encouraged and even facilitated this attitude with regard to illegal aliens. In a series of conference calls reported on by Maryland activist Sue Payne, participants stated the goal was to “navigate not assimilate.” One of the participants even said the intention was to create a “country within a country.”31 Meanwhile, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) has provided updated estimates of the net annual cost of illegal immigration: $115.9 billion.32
Our immigration system needs a complete overhaul. A good place to start would be refugee resettlement. It has grown to enormous proportions, has corrupted government at every level, and provides billions in taxpayer dollars to advance a leftist agenda diametrically opposed to America’s free-market, limited government system, and the rare freedoms that go with it. The entire VOLAG system needs to be scrapped and replaced. A strictly volunteer program would be naturally self-limiting and remove the financial incentives that government dollars create. We should deal with refugees on a case-by-case basis, as we once did, and strive to create refugee safe havens overseas that allow refugees to return home when peace is restored in their countries of residence. Candidate Donald Trump articulated that idea. President Trump should carry it out. Under the current system, the West’s willingness to accommodate refugees and economic migrants only encourages more to seek our shores, while it removes incentives for nations to work together to solve the problems that encourage mass migration. ■
1. Andrea Noble. “Jeff Sessions: More than 300 refugees involved in active FBI terrorism-related investigations.” Washington Times. March 6, 2017. Accessed October 5, 2017. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/mar/6/jeff-sessions-more-than-300-refugees-involved-in-a/.
2. Michael D. Shear, Ron Nixon, and Adam Liptak. “Supreme Court Cancels Hearing on Previous Trump Travel Ban.” New York Times. September 25, 2017. Accessed October 5, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/25/us/politics/trump-travel-ban-supreme-court.html.
4. “Asylum & the Rights of Refugees.” International Justice Resource Center. Accessed October 5, 2017. http://www.ijrcenter.org/refugee-law/#Who_Is_a_Refugee.
5. http://www.unhcr.org/en-us/news/latest/2016/6/ 5763b65a4/global-forced-displacement-hits-record-high.html.
6. “Fact Sheet: Unaccompanied Alien Children Program.” Department of Health and Human Services. Administration for Children and Families, Office of Refugee Resettlement. January 2016. Accessed October 5, 2017. https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/orr/orr_uc_updated_fact_sheet_1416.pdf.
13. “2015 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics: Table 6. Persons Obtaining Lawful Permanent Resident Status By Type And Major Class Of Admission: Fiscal Years 2013 To 2015.” U.S. Department of Homeland Security. December 15, 2016. Accessed October 5, 2017. https://www.dhs.gov/immigration-statistics/yearbook/2015/table6.
14. “About OneMacomb.” Macomb County. Accessed October 5, 2017. http://people.macombgov.org/People-About.
15. Chad Selweski. “Macomb County No. 1 in Michigan in flow of refugees.” Macomb Daily. December 16, 2014. Accessed October 5, 2017. http://www.macombdaily.com/article/MD/20141216/NEWS/141219708.
16. Interview with Oakland County education officials, August 11, 2016.
17. James Simpson. “Voters give the frozen boot to scheming mayor forcing refugee resettlement on Vermont’s third-largest city… “ Bombthrowers. March 10, 2017. Accessed October 5, 2017. https://www.bombthrowers.com/article/rutland-voters-give-frozen-boot/.
19. http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2016/ 06/09/emails-reveal-mayor-conspired-secret-resettle-syrians-town/.
23. “Muslim Ban Creates Chaos; Terror Attack in a Mosque; Trump’s Pick for Supreme Court; New Law on Land; Politics at the SAG Awards.” CNN. January 30, 2017 . Accessed October 5, 2017. http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1701/30/cnr.20.html.
28. Neil Munro. “Muslim Immigrants Must Not Assimilate, says Progressive Ally Linda Sarsour.” Breitbart, July 17, 2017. Accessed October 3, 2017. http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/07/07/muslim-immigrants-must-not-assimilate-says-progressive-ally-linda-sarsour/.
30. Munro. Op. cit.