The pushback started earlier this year in South Carolina, then spread to Minnesota, Idaho, and now North Dakota.
Michigan and Ohio are also organizing against what local residents say is a sinister and sneaky federal program that almost never gets serious coverage from local media. It's the U.S. State Department's refugee resettlement program, which has been humming along on autopilot since Congress passed the Refugee Act of 1980, signed by President Jimmy Carter.
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Since that time, more than 3 million refugees from Third World countries have been permanently resettled in more than 190 American cities and towns.
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On the rare occasions when the program attracts national media coverage, it almost always gets spun in a positive light, citing emotional, sometimes tear-jerking stories of refugees rescued from violence in their homelands.
But activists say there's another side to the refugee program that isn't being told.
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No longer satisfied with pat answers, residents in several states are starting to ask the hard questions. They are showing up at meetings, starting blogs and email lists, digging up information and bypassing local media to inform their friends and neighbors of what's really going on with the refugee movement.
In conservative Twin Falls, Idaho, for instance, a group of 100 activists are going door to door informing their neighbors about how the refugee program works. Organizer Rick Martin says most people are surprised to find out that the United Nations picks most of the refugees destined for America, and that the Catholic Church, the Lutheran and Episcopal churches, along with evangelical and Jewish groups get paid by the federal government to resettle refugees in the U.S.
"When we mention that the U.N. is involved most of the time they won't believe it, so we have to show them the articles," Martin said.
The U.N. connection could explain why so many Muslim refugees are coming to the U.S. from jihadist hotbeds like Syria and Somalia while persecuted Christians in Syria, Iraq and Egypt have a hard time getting within sight of the Statue of Liberty. It may also explain why Muslim countries with plenty of open land, such as Saudi Arabia, aren't taking in more of the Sunni Muslim refugees being created by jihadist-inspired civil strife in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Somalia.
Changing the demographics of small-town America
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Hundreds of residents in Fargo and Cass County, North Dakota, are the latest to get active. More than 2,500 have signed an online petition titled "Stop Lutheran Social Services in Fargo!" at change.org.
LSS, a subsidiary of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, one of the nine resettlement agencies or VOLAGs, has been funneling U.N.-selected refugees into Midwestern states areas like the Dakotas and Minnesota for years. Since 2002 the small cities of Fargo and West Fargo have received 3,647 refugees from more than two dozen Third World countries including 1,397 refugees from Bhutan, 670 from Somalia, 567 from Iraq, 209 from Liberia, 196 from Democratic Republic of Congo, and the balance from Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia, Cambodia, Chad, Columbia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Burundi, Burma and Bosnia, according to government databases.
On Thursday of last week Lutheran Social Services announced it has rejected the online petitioners' plea, saying it would continue to resettle refugees from around the world in Fargo, demonstrating once again that the agency works for the federal government and the United Nations, not the people of Fargo or North Dakota.
At that point the petition had 450 signatures. By Saturday afternoon it was up to 2,370 signatures and by Sunday afternoon it surpassed 2,500.
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The petition states that "Lutheran Social Services has already brought 350 immigrants to Fargo this year and plans to bring more in the second half of the year. We need to send a message to the legislative body in our county to stop this without having a vote by the population of Cass County. We would like facts and data on the immigrants and refugees already brought in by LSS."
A steady stream of cheap labor for meat packers
The fact that a private agency like LSS can single-handedly change the demographics of a city without that city's consent just doesn't seem right, said petition organizer Damon Quadnik of Fargo.
Lutheran Social services is "ruining Fargo for their own profit," states Quradnik, who started the petition less than a week ago.
Ouradnik said he is also reaching out his North Dakota senators seeking their help in shutting off the spigot of refugees being resettled at taxpayer expense by Lutheran Social Services. He wants them to stop the resettlements until the residents of Cass County have had a chance to vote on the issue.
Citizens are also starting to organize against the mass resettlement of refugees in St. Cloud, Minnesota, and nearby Willmar, where Somali refugees have been sent for years by Lutheran Social Services and Catholic Charities to work in meatpacking plants owned by Hormel.
The nine private resettlement agencies, including "charities" within the Lutheran, Catholic, Episcopalian, and evangelical churches, get federal grants to resettle the refugees, essentially acting as front groups for the government, but without the transparency and accountability that would be expected if the government did the work itself, said Bob Enos, spokesman for T-3 (Truth and Transparency in Taxation) in St. Cloud. His group is pushing for more openness in the way refugees are resettled in Minnesota.
"I think the meat packers had a lot to do with this," Enos, a former businessman, told WND. "These are people in business whose raw materials won't allow them to outsource overseas, so if you can't bring the factory overseas you bring overseas to the factory."
Overall, the United Nations has sent nearly 500,000 refugees directly from the Third World to more than 190 cities and towns across the U.S. since President Obama took office.
But the refugee pipeline from the Mideast and Africa really got jumpstarted under presidents George H. Walker Bush and Bill Clinton. Since 1990, more than 3 million foreign refugees have been permanently resettled in the U.S., with approximately 1 million coming from Muslim-dominated countries that have a history of hostility toward America such as Somalia, Syria, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uzbekistan and Iraq.
The nation of Myanmar, also called Burma, which is run by Buddhists, is also now trying to unload its Muslim minority, known as the Rohingya, to any country that will take them as "refugees." The nation's Buddhist monks fear rising radicalization of Muslims around the world will envelop the Rohingya and so they are increasingly being herded into refugee camps bound for countries in the West, according to a June 2015 report by the Institute for Security and Policy Studies. The U.N. has already sent about 1,000 Rohingya to the U.S.
In one country where the U.S. could have used the refugee program to rescue persecuted Christians – Syria – it has failed to do so. Over the past year more than 1,150 refugees have entered the U.S. from Syria with only a small handful of 40 Christians among them, while 95 percent have been Muslim, according to a search of federal government databases.
Mounting resistance in Idaho
Another city that is organizing and pushing back against the refugee program is Twin Falls, in the conservative state of Idaho. Chobani Yogurt operates the world's largest yogurt plant in Twin Falls and a massive new meat-packing plant is on the drawing board in Boise, making it prime territory for an influx of low-skill, low-wage foreign workers.
Idaho, a sparsely populated agricultural state, has been infused with 10,166 refugees from the Third World since 2002, according to federal databases.
But the resistance is now in full swing. Some 100 people showed up at a series of townhall meetings last week hosted by Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and almost all of them were there to express concerns about refugees, according to TVOI News.
Crapo in July told the Times-News of Twin Falls that he "understands the need for a refugee program" and mostly defended it at the townhalls, but said he was open to considering a temporary moratorium as requested by a bill introduced July 29 in the House by Rep. Babin, R-Texas.
Residents also want the state to close a longstanding refugee welcoming center at the College of Southern Idaho, citing fears the immigrants it hosts could include Islamists from Syria. One man told Crapo at a townhall meeting he didn't think the U.S. should be accepting men of military age from Syria, which ups the risk that they could have connections to jihadist groups like ISIS or al-Nusra Front.
The newly formed Idaho group is going door-to-door to inform residents of the plans to drop more than 300 refugees, some from Syria, on the Twin Falls area starting in October.
The State Department assures those who ask questions about security that refugees are the "most highly vetted" of all U.S. immigrants.
But the FBI, which is responsible for doing the vetting, refutes that notion.
One of the FBI's top counter-terrorism experts, Michael Steinbach, warned Congress on Feb. 11 that the U.S. is not in a position to screen the Syrians because it has no boots on the ground and no access to law enforcement or intelligence data in the "failed state" of Syria. House Homeland Security Committee Chair Michael McCaul, R-Texas, also warned in two letters to President Obama that the Syrian refugee program could become a "jihadist pipeline" directly to the United States.
Listen to Rep. McCaul's statement on Syrian refugee program
"Bringing in Syrians, who are predominantly of Muslim background, may be opening the door to terrorists pretending to be refugees," Rick Martin, head of the Committee to End the CSI (College of Southern Idaho) Refugee Center in nearby Buhl, told Reuters. "We're not against legitimate refugees. They need to be treated with dignity and respect. But it would be easy for someone to lie about their background."
Reuters reported the State Department's claim about intense vetting of refugees without mentioning the FBI's expert testimony to the contrary by Steinbach.
Minnesota focusing on financial burden, secrecy
Rather than delving into the security risks of jihadists slipping into the United States, Enos and the Minnesota activists stay focused on the financial impact of refugees on their cities, counties and state. Most of the refugees are abandoned by the resettlement agencies within three to five months of arrival, leaving the responsibility to care for them to state and local governments and school systems, A recent study by the Congressional Research Office showed 74.2 percent of refugees receive food stamps, 56 percent are on Medicaid and 23 percent live in public housing.
"It is intolerable that private organizations can unilaterally transform communities in the United States against the will of the people who built them, and add insult to injury by leaving the financial burden on local taxpayers, while they pocket millions," Enos said.
Enos, who has been prying information from LSS for months, said the program could never stand on its merits if the government were not so secretive and adept at using contractors to hide information.
"The secrecy with which resettlement agencies do business could not happen without the assent of our federal government," he told WND. "If the feds ran these programs directly, transparency might be assured by the Freedom of Information Act. But private contractors are exempt, and the feds know this. They know that the resettlement program is, at its core, unsellable to the American public."
Anyone who takes a public stand, or even demands answers to basic questions about the refugee program, such as how many will be coming each year, from what countries and a breakdown of costs to the school and health systems, or the impact on housing and labor markets, automatically gets branded a "racist" or a "bigot," as Enos found out last month when he stood up to speak at a meeting in St. Cloud.
A local union organizer held a rally at the courthouse against the "racists" who dared to ask questions about the refugee program, while a professor at St. Cloud State University chimed in with an email blasting Enos and the "racist" speaker. Enos never mentioned race in his short talk at a local VFW hall, focusing his comments on the economic burden caused by refugees.
Working around biased media
Without exception, the activists tell WND that their local media has not given them a fair shake. Local newspapers and TV stations often quote the resettlement agency officials as the final authority on the refugee program, slanting and omitting basic facts about how the program is really run.
In Fargo, WNAY TV 6 ran a story quoting Lutheran Social Services CEO Jessica Thomasson saying that "beyond a conversation once a year about how many refugees the organization's staff can handle, they don't have much of a say in how many people are sent here or where they're sent from. That's all up to the Federal Government."
This is not how the resettlement business works, says Ann Corcoran, who has been following the refugee industry for eight years through her blog Refugee Resettlement Watch.
"She is right that Washington is making the decisions for North Dakota – and every other state – receiving the U.N.-chosen refugees, but her parent organization — Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service — takes her suggestions for how many her local subcontracting office can handle and where they will come from," Corcoran said.
Every week or so, the LSS parent organization sits down with U.S. State Department employees and they divvy up the refugees partially dependent on what amenities each town has to offer the refugees in the form of subsidized housing, jobs for low-skilled people and available classroom space in each receiving community.
"They even take into consideration the presence of a mosque or two," Corcoran said, since roughly half of the 70,000 refugees imported into the U.S. every year come from Muslim-dominated countries.
"Maybe Congress should have a role, but they don’t, mostly because they have abrogated their responsibility," Corcoran said.
Congress drops the ball on oversight
Just before summer break, Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas, introduced HR 3314, the Refugee Resettlement Accountability National Security Act, which seeks a moratorium on all resettlements until Congress can audit its costs and impact.
Babin, the first congressman to take an interest in the oversight of the refugee resettlement program in more than 30 years, is hoping to get some co-sponsors when Congress returns from summer break but so far he hasn't found any.
His bill would "press the pause button" on a program that grants permanent legal residency to nearly 70,000 new refugees a year. The refugees qualify for a smorgasbord of welfare benefits on day one upon arrival, including food stamps, subsidized housing, public education, Medicaid and WIC (federal aid for women, infants and children).
While there are success stories of refugees who have gone on to lead productive lives, many lead lives of chronic dependency.
Worse yet, some have fallen into a life of crime.
WND has reported on numerous cases of criminal and terrorist activity among refugees over the past year, most recently reporting on a case Friday in which three Somali-Americans, believed to be refugees or children of refugees, were arrested in Portland, Maine, for the brutal murder of a local man.
In another case, a refugee from Togo was in the U.S. only nine days before he raped a woman.
In April, six young Somali men from refugee families in Minnesota were arrested and charged with repeatedly trying to board flights to Turkey where they planned to cross the border and join ISIS in Syria. This case, just the latest in a string of Somali refugees involved in terrorist activity, led U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger to admit at a press conference that "We have a terror recruitment problem in Minnesota."
On Jan. 30, WND reported that the FBI announced its newest "most wanted terrorist" was a Somali refugee working as a cab driver in Virginia who was recruiting for al-Shabab, an al-Qaida affiliate. He reportedly left the country for Somalia but has dual-citizenship and could return to the U.S. at any time.
These are just a few of the cases involving "bad apples" who got to American shores as either refugees or were born in the states as children of refugees. There are dozens more such cases, including one refugee from Uzbekistan who was convicted in Idaho last week of planning attacks against U.S. military installations.
Babin's bill would temporarily suspend all refugee resettlements until the Government Accountability Office completes a thorough examination of its costs on local governments, states and American taxpayers, as well as the risks to national security.
"The Refugee Resettlement Program has been running on autopilot for far too long with little regard to economic, social and national security implications," Babin wrote in a recent op-ed. "We need to step back and examine all aspects of this program. Such as, why is the U.N., whose policies often run counter to the best interests of the U.S., even in the equation?"
The entire program is run at the administration level as the president sets the agenda every year for how many will be resettled and from what countries, Corcoran said. He then sends a letter to Congress requesting "consultation."
"Historically members of Congress responsible for this program merrily rubber stamp whatever the president says," Corcoran said.
LSS of North Dakota is a $40 million a year operation with $10 million coming from government grants. See the group's IRS Form 990 here:
So it's little wonder many residents are growing weary of the secrecy from the resettlement contractors, the stonewalling from the State Department and the silence from Congress.