Jun 23, 2016 Voices Of Montana, _Featured 4 comments

Syrian Refugees to Montana? Ask Texas & South Carolina.

What States have Learned so far about Refugee Settlement, and Why We May not be Prepared

Last Thursday the state of Texas lost its fight against the resettlement of Syrian refugees in their state, ending a month-long battle during which refugees from Syria continued to arrive weekly.

Earlier this month, Governor Nikki Haley and Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina were both told that there is nothing they could legally do to stop more Syrians from coming to South Carolina. Gowdy’s districts of Greenville and Spartanburg are now established resettlement sites.

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Last September, President Obama ordered his administration to dramatically “scale up” the number of Syrian refugees allowed into the United States. If he is to meet his goal of 10,000 total by the end of his administration, then 833 refugees per month would have to be admitted. According to the State Department, only about 1,300 Syrian refugees–or some 13% of Obama’s target– have actually been admitted into the U.S. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has issued a dire plea for the U.S. to accept more Syrian refugees.

According to the State Department’s Bureau of Population, refugees and migration takes an average of 18 to 24 months to safely vet refugees. That includes interviews and a medical evaluation so they can not pose a threat to the U.S.

But with this overwhelming urgency of the president and the U.N. to get more refugees to the U.S. and time ticking on Obama’s self-imposed deadline, many people are asking if these refugees are being vetted correctly, especially due to the speed at which they are being forced into the pipeline.

With the recent terror attacks in France, Belgium, San Bernardino, Fort Hood, Chattanooga, Boston, Orlando and many others, plus the fact that most of these refugees do not have a legitimate documented past, many Americans are skeptical and worried.

Montana Congressman and former Navy SEAL, Ryan Zinke says that it makes one wonder if the vetting process isn’t impossible with these refugees, especially considering the urgency at which this administration is pushing for the refugee resettlement. In fact, the urgency likely heightens the fears that the terrorists will exploit this migrant flow.

Texas Republican Michael McCaul, Chairman of the House Homeland Security committee, says he, worries with the speed of the refugee program, too, and how it could create opportunities for ISIS to attack the United States. He said they have already stated they are taking advantage of the Syrian refugee crisis to launch attacks, and they are clearly following through on it. It is just another way that they (terrorists) are taking advantage of this administrations lack of a plan to protect its citizens.

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FBI Director, James Comey has acknowledged that the vetting of Syrian refugees is not an imperfect science, because the United States has limited ability to investigate their backgrounds. We can query our data base until the cows come home, but there will be nothing to show up because we have no record of them.

According to the Administration,  they are working as fast as they can to “seed” towns and cities across America with diversity. “Seed” is the administration’s word. Missoula, Montana and towns across the country are the soil into which the migrants are being planted. President Obama has said we are changing the people by planting immigrant seedlings in towns across America.

Cities that have already been through the immigration process say you will feel it in your schools first. Different languages will now be part of your school  including Arabic. These students must be all accommodated for. Some of these kids have never been to a school before and can be difficult to teach. All of these new problems must be addressed and plans put into place by the schools.

Recently on the radio talk show “Voices of Montana,” one caller from Missoula called in and said, “We are bringing in refugees from countries that hate us. And we don’t get to choose who we get. We will get racially, culturally, religiously diverse people who refuse to assimilate.”

Another caller to the show said she recently left another state because of the refugees problem there, “The government contractors will hold their hands (refugees) until they get signed up for subsidized housing (usually tax payer supported) and for welfare, including food stamps and health care, get their kids enrolled in school and then the contractors move on to their next jobs and city.”

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An e-mailer to the show said there is only one thing we can do: We must ask questions and demand our elected officials to get more involved. The state department and its contractors hate to answer these types of tough questions, but we must see and debate their plan and ask the questions and demand the answers.

According to Ann Corcoran of the web site Refugee Resettlement Watch, you must get a plan from the U.S. government and their contractors. You must demand these during public meetings. They don’t really want you to know what and how they are doing things. They will fight you.

Corcoran says to demand answers in public like: Will they stop the resettlement if the town is becoming economically or socially stressed? Will demands for housing crowd out Americans and the elderly? Are there enough jobs, What are their employment opportunities? What security and health care screening have the refugees undergone? Who is paying their health care? Who is paying to educate their children who don’t speak English and may never have attended school before?

Certainly communities are deserving of their questions all being answered. The U.S. State Department has said they won’t go where they are not wanted, but they are desperate now with too many refugees coming in and too few welcoming towns.

One refugee expert told me that concerned citizens must form a citizens group to research the structure of the program in your state to obtain the legal facts about the program as the structure varies from state to state. The same expert said that people need to educate themselves on the Delphi technique, a strategy used by government agencies wishing to control the outcome of a meeting.

Will refugees be coming to Montana? Probably. Some people will welcome them with open arms, many others will take a much more cautious approach. But one thing is for sure –just like Texas and South Carolina learned –if the government decides they are coming to your town, there isn’t much you can do to stop it, especially if your own governor has no problem with it at all.

By Jon Arneson