A freshman Republican lawmaker is proposing that the United States put a hold on taking new refugees from around the world until the government better understands how cities and local communities are absorbing the costs and security risks of the nearly 500,000 refugees taken in under President Obama.
Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas, said in an interview with the Washington Examiner that state and local governments have no say over whether to take the refugees, or how many, and don’t get any compensation when they do. Fears about the local impact of taking in refugees from Syria and other troublespots are ratcheting up after Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the U.S. would accept 85,000 refugees next year, and 100,000 by 2017.
Babin said it’s virtually impossible for lawmakers to obtain information on the refugee program, which is why his bill would call on the Government Accountability Office to “do an appraisal on just how much this is costing the American taxpayer.”
“We know that these refugees, over 90 percent of them, are on federal welfare programs,” said Babin. “A law like this that’s been around for so long and so few people know about, it almost seems like the government’s [been] trying to keep us in the dark all these years.”
Refugees are eligible for seven years of Supplemental Security Income, seven years of Medicaid coverage, five years of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and food stamps, according to the Congressional Research Service. With the United States debt approaching $19 trillion, around $25,000 per household, and millions of Americans dropping out of the labor force, taxpayers can ill afford the costs of the refugee program, Babin said.
Congress’ first refugee legislation was enacted in 1948 and admitted 400,000 Europeans displaced by the Second World War. The Refugee Act of 1980 provided for the use of the UN’s definition of “refugee” and standardized the process for admittance to the U.S. under three government departments.
While non-profits receive $6,000 to $8,000 per refugee that they take in, that money isn’t passed along to local hospitals and schools that struggle to keep up with refugee demand for services, said Babin.
Non-profit agencies contracted by the federal government do not have to comply with the Freedom of Information Act, “so it’s very difficult to find out exactly what’s going on; but what we can ascertain is that these non-profit agencies are making a very handsome amount of money from the taxpayer, for every refugee they bring in,” Babin told the Examiner.
Security concerns and problems with the assimilation of Middle Eastern refugees further complicate issues for states and communities, said Babin. Refugees from the Middle East “just do not assimilate,” he said.
“I don’t think the United States should be inviting the problems of the Middle East into our country,” said Babin. “Seventy percent of these people that are going into Western Europe today are military-aged males 20-30 years old. According to the UN, only 15 percent are [children] and 13 percent are women.”
Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states aren’t taking any refugees, even though they are far closer to the crisis, Babin pointed out.
He said that it is difficult for lawmakers to ascertain the details of the security process refugees undergo. Refugees are screened by the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, and the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, among others. But, “most of the details of the security checks are classified,” the State Department said in a background briefing.
Echoing a warning made by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, Babin said the United States does not have the intelligence to properly vet Syrian refugees.
“You can’t just go to the Damascus police department and start checking because they don’t have the records,” said Babin, adding that even if the files were available, “these folks don’t tell the truth, many of them.”
The Islamic State “has already pledged to exploit the refugee programs and have indeed done so,” Babin told the Examiner. “We’ve seen some radicalized jihadists … right here in Garland, Texas and Chattanooga, Tennessee.”
“I’m very concerned for my grandchildren and children … for their personal safety. We’ve seen some terrorist and criminal activity out of many of these refugees over the years in states like Maine, Minnesota, Idaho, here in Texas, and all around the country,” Babin concluded. “The danger is real, and that’s why I filed this bill.”
“Diverse” means formerly White… –Bob Whitaker
Bob Whitaker: A true American who worked for the CIA under the Regan Administration.
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