The latest flashpoint in the growing backlash against refugee resettlement is Fargo, North Dakota, where the city commission is demanding a full accounting of the program’s costs.
“Surprisingly, that’s never been done before,” said a Fargo city commissioner, Dave Piepkorn, who spoke with WND this week and can be seen discussing his plan in the video above.
Fargo, like many other small cities that have received large numbers of refugees, has been divided by the issue. There have been protests against refugees and counter protests in favor of them, followed by biting blogs and news reports on both sides.
Fargo was thrust into the spotlight on Sept. 18 when it was revealed that the Somali refugee who attacked mall shoppers in St. Cloud, Minnesota, was originally resettled here.
“When we have one Muslim terrorist who tries to kill innocent people in St. Cloud, which is two hours from here, that raised my alarm,” said Piepkorn, who is leading the fight to expose the costs of refugee resettlement on his community.
Dahir Adan, who stabbed 10 shoppers while yelling references to Allah, came to St. Cloud via Fargo, where he was resettled by Lutheran Social Services after arriving with his family from a United Nations refugee camp in Kenya at the age of 2. His older brother, 27-year-old Abdullah Adan, still resides in Fargo, his current home being the Cass County Jail where he is being held on felony drug charges.
ISIS released a statement calling Dahir Adan a “soldier” of the Islamic State.
Piepkorn told WND that Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, the agency the government hires to resettle refugees in Fargo, has been less than forthcoming with information about Adan and his family.
“We had a gentleman who was a refugee, who was the terrorist in Minnesota,” he said. “And once the story came out and the identity of the terrorist was made known, the media asked them to track back and they would not release any information on him, and that to me was shocking.”
Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota moved last year into a new, larger building, a symbol of its success in transforming Fargo into a model of diversity and multiculturalism.
Piepkorn, a former standout offensive lineman for the North Dakota State football team who was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 1984, hopes to shine a light on the secretive process by which Fargo has been seeded with Third World refugees over the last two decades.
His proposal to direct the city staff to total up the costs of refugee resettlement in Fargo and Cass County was approved 5-0 by the city commission Monday night.
And there’s been a lot of resettlement going on in Fargo.
North Dakota leads nation in refugees per capita
“On a per capita basis, North Dakota leads the nation in refugees, and 80 percent or more get sent to the Fargo area,” said Piepkorn.
A check of the U.S. State Department’s Refugee Processing Center database shows that refugees have been sent to Fargo from at least 26 different countries.
Rural states like the Dakotas, Montana, Alaska, Iowa, Kentucky, Tennessee and the Carolinas have not been immune to the growing refugee influx under the last two presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
North Dakota has received 5,299 refugees since January 2002, an average of 378 per year over that period. Of those 5,299 refugees, 4,103 have been sent to Fargo, a city of just over 118,000 people.
The top sending countries are Bhutan, Somalia, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and Sudan.
Below is a breakdown of the numbers of refugees sent to Fargo since 2002 by country:
- Bhutan – 1,553 refugees
- Somalia – 811 refugees
- Iraq – 672 refugees
- DRC – 228 refugees
- Liberia – 209 refugees
- Sudan – 204 refugees
“We have 40 different types of language interpreters in our schools,” Piepkorn told WND.
The language and cultural barriers of integrating such large numbers of refugees also impact the emergency 9-1-1 center, local police and jails, hospitals and clinics, housing and transportation.
“I know the city and county are involved in housing, and also transportation and health care,” Piepkorn said. “It’s a huge amount of money.”
He predicts it could run into the millions per year.
TV station criticized for blowing whistle on TB cases
Earlier this year, it was reported by Michael Patrick Leahy of Breitbart News that four active cases of tuberculosis were found among refugees in Fargo, a report that Lutheran Social Services denied, but it was confirmed in June by a health officer for the Fargo Cass Public Health Department.
Backlash against the refugee program has been building in Fargo since April when a local TV reporter aired an investigative story on resettlement and its corporate backers.
Watch the report that shocked Fargo and 19 other U.S. cities, exposing key corporate execs behind the push for mass immigration:
The station ran another story in May tying the refugees to the first increase in tuberculosis cases in Fargo in 20 years. The second report angered refugee advocates, who organized a protest rally against the local NBC affiliate calling for “administrative action” against the reporter, news director and station manager. The deputy mayor of Fargo was among those protesting the TV station’s reporting, calling it “fear mongering” at the expense of refugees and demanding the station apologize for reporting on the TB cases. The station stands by its story.
But in the wake of the stabbing spree in St. Cloud, residents now have a new concern that may trump the possibility of any TB outbreak. The attack, coupled with another involving pipe bombs on the same weekend in New York and New Jersey carried out by an Afghan refugee, put a spotlight on the security risks of refugees from certain countries with a history of terrorism.
But he is attacking the resettlement program from the financial side. He believes that if the influx of refugees from the Third World into Fargo is driven by the federal government then the federal government ought to pay for the costs. He’s calling it an “unfunded mandate,” and he told a local radio host Tuesday that if the feds don’t ante up to help offset the costs, then the city will consider filing a lawsuit.
Following lead of Michigan county?
Fargo would not be the first local government to consider doing that.
Brooks Patterson, county executive for Oakland County, Michigan, recently announced he is preparing to sue the feds for flooding his county with refugees without local consultation or consent. The Refugee Act of 1980 requires the federal government to consult with states and localities where it sends the refugees, and this has been a bone of contention in Tennessee, Texas and Alabama as well as Michigan and North Dakota.
Fargo’s costs of integrating the refugees have been estimated at $250,000 for last year alone, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg, Piepkorn told WND.
Piepkorn said the U.S. State Department, which oversees the program, gives the city no say over how many refugees get sent to the community and from where. Those decisions are made by the State Department and Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, which gets paid a fee by the government for each refugee it resettles in Fargo.
“The proponents of refugee resettlement don’t want these numbers to come out because when they do it’s going to be huge,” he said. “We have a group, Lutheran Social Services, that’s the organization that’s going to be called on the carpet.”
Containing the backlash
LSSND and other pro-refugee groups are pushing for an economic-impact study that they say would show the positive impact of refugees on Fargo. Since Fargo has a thriving economy, they say the refugees have a high employment rate, filling jobs in the hospitality industry and other low-skilled positions that most North Dakotans aren’t eager to take.
But studies by the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement show that refugees, particularly those from the Middle East and Africa, are high welfare users. Even if they do hold a job, that job is likely to fall short of covering the costs of a large refugee family. The income gaps are often filled by food stamps, Medicaid, subsidized housing and other programs.
“LSSSD wanted to provide an economic impact, they were saying we’ll provide you with the positive economic impact of refugees, but I thought that was laughable,” Piepkorn said. “I said, ‘Well, even if you had one, I wouldn’t use it,’ because they have a dog in the fight.”
Piepkorn brought several refugee issues before the city commission Monday night.
“Who approves the refugees who are coming here?” he said. “Right now, we have no input as a city or county or anything, and so it’s an unfunded mandate.”
In fact, the refugees sent to Fargo and more than 300 other U.S. cities and towns are initially selected by the United Nations, then screened by the U.S. government. The effectiveness of screening refugees from Muslim countries with active jihadist movements has been a topic of hot debate for well over a year in Congress and the media.
Piepkorn encountered some resistance to his quest for more information from fellow commissioner John Strand, who maintained that the costs were “not that quantifiably significant relative to what the people might think.”
Yet, KVLY’s Valley Live News reported in November that the cost to educate English language learners enrolled in the city’s public schools totaled $2.8 million, citing information provided by Superintendent Dr. Jeff Schatz.
One of 20 cities targeted by powerful group
In April, KVLY aired a report by reporter Chris Berg that tied support for the refugee program in Fargo and 19 other cities to a powerful group called the Partnership for a New American Economy, which includes business tycoons such as Rupert Murdoch of Fox News and Bob Iger of Disney, hotel baron Bill Marriott and Michael Bloomberg of Bloomberg News. WND had first published an investigative report on the 20 “welcoming” cities just days before.
FBI Director James Comey has stated in congressional hearings that his agency has nearly 1,000 open ISIS investigations in all 50 states, stretching the bureau to its limits trying to keep up with all of the leads. And a recently leaked FBI document revealed the bureau has had 7,700 encounters with known terrorists over the last year.
‘Refugees are our guests’
“Refugees are our guests. They’re not Americans. They’re not citizens. They are our guests,” said Piepkorn, as reported by KVLY.
He said he hopes the countywide investigation into costs will be thorough and time consuming.
“That’s the beauty of it,” he told WND. “We’ll get all the facts and be able to say here’s what we’re looking at, hard numbers.”
“It’s been a gradual education for me,” he added. “I just had one vote on the commission, and now we have a majority so that kind of changes your ability to get things done.
“We’re going to get a new leader in the White House, and this is going to be a huge issue. I think it is the issue of the upcoming election; most people don’t know it yet.
“I would just say we’re starting to fight the good fight.”