A pair of bills was introduced in the Michigan legislature Thursday that would limit refugee resettlement in the state and require more local autonomy in the process.
While California and Texas receive the most foreign refugees each year among the 50 states, Michigan receives the most per capita relative to its population.
Dearborn has become the nation’s most highly concentrated Arab-Muslim community, and nearby Hamtramck recently became the first city in America to elect a Muslim-majority city council. The spread of Islam across southern Michigan is now causing a stir in neighboring Sterling Heights, where a mega mosque has been proposed in a residential area, ruffling feathers among non-Muslims who say the traffic and noise issues that come with a large mosque are being unfairly thrust upon them.
Another battle is brewing in Pittsfield Township near Ann Arbor, where a radical mosque is proposing to build an Islamic school on 27 acres next to a residential subdivision. The local zoning board denied the rezoning, and the township is now being sued by Obama’s Justice Department.
On top of the challenges that come with demographic changes and the inevitable culture clashes, many residents in Michigan have voiced concerns about security issues related to the large number of refugees coming from jihadist hotbeds like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.
The Obama administration wants to resettle 5,100 Syrian refugees in Michigan this year alone. The refugees are selected by the United Nations and screened by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and FBI, but Obama’s own FBI director has repeatedly told Congress that screening refugees from Syria is virtually impossible and fraught with risks.
That is sparking an organized backlash from Michigan residents.
A citizens’ group called Secure Michigan has formed as a watchdog over the refugee resettlement program in the state. Secure Michigan issued a statement Tuesday after the jihadist attack on Brussels, Belgium, that killed 34 people and injured 200. The statement urged Michigan GOP Gov. Rick Snyder to renew his opposition to President Obama’s Syrian refugee program.
Obama wants to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees in the U.S. this year, about half of them in Michigan.
All of this has put pressure on state lawmakers to do something to slow down the flow of Third World refugees into Michigan.
State Rep. Jim Runestad, R-White Lake, has answered the call. He introduced legislation to make refugee placements in Michigan both safe and more transparent, while also giving local government a voice in the process as required by federal immigration law.
“House Bills 5528 and 5529 will protect both our communities and refugees entering our communities. Michigan receives more refugees per capita than any other state in the nation, but it lacks a framework for defining how many refugees and families our state is capable of serving,” Runestad said in a statement on his website.
“There is currently no system involving state and local governments for oversight of refugees entering the state,” said Runestad. “This is not only a security risk to our state, but is wide open for human trafficking abuses.
“As a parent, I have a duty to protect my children, and as a state lawmaker, I have a duty to protect the rights of our local governments and our rights under the U.S. Constitution and federal law.”
Runestad said federal immigration law requires that local governments be notified prior to placement of refugees in their communities and that they be involved in the process of placement and defining their local capacity for refugee placements.
“This is being totally ignored, leaving counties, schools and the state in the dark until placements have been made,” said Runestad.
Backlash growing not just in Michigan
Lawsuits in Texas and Alabama and South Carolina have been filed against the federal government seeking some of these same concessions. Backlash against the refugee program has also been heating up in Montana and North Dakota, where protest rallies have occurred and citizens are seeking to block the entrance of more refugees. The International Rescue committee, headed by socialist former U.K. foreign minister David Miliband, recently announced it would begin resettling in Montana despite the unwelcoming environment.
Dick Manaserri, communications director for Secure Michigan, said his group supports the bill introduced by Runestad.
He said the two bills are very moderate in their intentions but even so will face an uphill battle to pass the Michigan legislature, where the Council on Muslim-American Relations, or CAIR, holds much sway over lawmakers.
“These new bills are moderate intentionally, but my guess is that the overwhelming influence of CAIR, the Michigan Catholic Conference, and the Chamber of Commerce will make this a tough fight,” he told WND.
FBI experts counter CAIR propaganda
Manaserri said he trusts FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before Congress that the U.S. lacks the capability of screening the vast majority of Syrian refugees because Syria is a “failed state” that has no reliable law enforcement data with which to confirm the identity or backgrounds of those claiming to be refugees.
“For Michigan, this has become a safety issue – 148 unvettable Syrian refugees have been placed in Michigan since October despite Paris, San Bernardino, and Brussels. Michigan has resettled 335 Syrian refugees since the Syrian Civil War began in March, 2011,” Manaserri said. “The federal vendors keep bringing in unvettable refugees from failed states regardless of our capacity to absorb them safely and financially.”
Watch local TV report on the bills that would reform refugee resettlement in Michigan:
Manaserri’s group has set up a website to keep the residents of Michigan informed about the resettlement process.
Runestad said placements are made without regard to the ability of the school districts to provide services or the employment opportunities for individual refugees.
“The bills I introduced propose an outline for communication between state departments and local governments in order to maximize placement success and minimize security risks for the state and refugees as allowed under current immigration law,” he said.
Runestad told WWMT-TV 3 that Michigan receives more refugees per capita than any other state, but there’s no system of oversight for those refugees.
Refugee advocates disagree and accused Runestad of having an ulterior motive.
“Refugees are really running for their lives, and Michigan has a tremendously proud tradition of really integrating refugees into our communities,” said Susan Reed, managing attorney for the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center.
Reed believes some refugees’ rights could be taken away if newly introduced legislation passes.
Reed, like most advocates of mass immigration, believes foreign nationals have rights under the U.S. Constitution, which is something that would have been unheard of in the founders’ day and even as recently as the 1980s.
House bills 5528 and 5529 are referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Ethics.
“We keep being told everything is safe, safe, safe, but we don’t need to know what’s being done to ensure that,” said Runestad.