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Residents of upstate South Carolina have fought hard to stop an unwanted infusion of Third World refugees – including some from the jihadist hotbed of Syria – into their community.
Since finding out in March about the federal government's plans to send an initial batch of 60 refugees to Spartanburg County, they have appealed to their Republican congressman, Rep. Trey Gowdy, their Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, and their Republican-dominated local county council – looking for help.
All of those GOP strongholds have let them down, they say, as a Christian aid group, World Relief, has already dropped off 25 refugees, straight from the United Nations camps in Africa and the Middle East.
But one local resident, Michelle Wiles, isn't taking no for an answer.
Wiles hired an attorney, who on Aug. 29 sent a "cease-and-desist" letter to the U.S. State Department, which oversees the U.N. refugee resettlement program that annually drops 70,000 low-skilled, non-English speakers into more than 190 U.S. cities and towns in 49 states. They are expected to be housed, educated and have their medical needs cared for, all on the taxpayer's dime.
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Cold shoulder from local county commissioner
Yet, when the taxpayers wants accountability, there is none, Wiles said. She found that most politicians, from the federal level on down to the local council, presume they have no power to stop the flow of refugees. Many can't even answer basic questions about the program.
The South Carolina activists were able to get a proviso inserted into the 2015 state budget that gives local councils veto power over funding for refugees in their communities. But the Spartanburg County Council has refused to use that power.
"My own representative on the county board won't even return my calls or emails, and this was before the cease-and-desist order went out," Wiles told WND. "I have not burned up his phone lines. I've never yelled at him, never done anything disrespectful, so he has no reason to ignore my calls. That, honestly, made me very upset that my own county council member, Roger Nutt, wouldn't even call me back, and he's supposed to be Mr. Conservative. They're all passing the buck around."
Wiles hired attorney Lauren Martel of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, to draft what is known in the legal world as a "demand letter." Such letters often precede litigation but not always.
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Martel's demand letter went out Monday via certified mail to Assistant Secretary of State Anne Richard and was copied to Gowdy, Haley, the state legislative delegation and county council members. The letter demands that World Relief stop resettling refugees in upstate South Carolina until the program can be fully investigated. It demands a response within five business days and puts the State Department on notice for "potential damages."
An 'unholy alliance'
"Refugee resettlement is a multi-layered, big issue. What you have is an unholy alliance between these nonprofit agencies, big business, churches and government," Martel told WND. "We all know what happens when that sort of situation takes place and you see things being negotiated behind closed doors."
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In the middle of the controversy is a South Carolina Baptist missionary, Jim Goodroe, who traveled to Washington, D.C., in 2013 to meet with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. The purpose of their meeting was to discuss how the Baptists could help house, feed and resettle illegal aliens coming up from the southern border.
Martel isn't sure if refugees were ever discussed, but finds it curious that Goodroe, who leads a network of 95 churches, was one of the first to get involved in helping World Relief resettle refugees in the Spartanburg area.
Graham, in a June 2013 interview with South Carolina's Capital city newspaper the State, said the evangelical involvement in the immigration debate has been a "game-changer."
"Having the evangelical community push for a solution that is tough but practical and making sure we never forget we’re talking about human beings here — it's been incredibly positive," said Graham, one of the main backers of the 2013 amnesty bill that cleared the Senate but stalled in the House.
Goodroe reportedly got "lured into the politics of immigration reform" when he taped a radio commercial for the Evangelical Immigration Table, the State reported. The EIT receives funding from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Walmart and liberal foundations such as the Ford Foundation and is supported by Jim Wallis, the longtime neo-Marxist founder and president of Sojourners magazine.
Why no Syrian Christians?
At a time when Europe is being overrun by thousands of Middle Eastern migrants, the United Nations has said it has 17,000 Syrians waiting in a pipeline to come to the United States for permanent resettlement. Of the more than 1,400 Syrians who have already come to the U.S. as refugees, 95 percent have been Muslim and only 3.8 percent Christian. This has angered some American Christians who believe the U.S. should be taking in the Christians who are being targeted for a jihadist-inspired genocide.
Under pressure from Gowdy and others, the Obama administration sent Richard to Spartanburg Aug. 25 for a private meeting with so-called stakeholders, which did not include an invitation to the taxpaying public.
Gowdy had asked for a public hearing back in April at the same time he sent a list of 17 questions to Secretary of State John Kerry. He wanted to know who makes the final decisions on how many refugees get sent to what cities, and from what countries. He did not get these or many of his other questions answered, nor did he get the public hearing he requested.
The refugee resettlement program cost more than $1 billion annually to administer – a price tag that does not include welfare benefits, the cost of educating refugee children and lost jobs that could have gone to unemployed Americans.
No paper trail
With all that public money flowing into the program, one would expect the taxpayers to have a seat at the table when the negotiations are taking place on where to send various refugees and what countries they would be coming from, Martel said. But that's not the case.
"We want to see this apparent agreement that World Relief has with the state of South Carolina. Show me what you put together in writing. What kind of contract is it?" Martel said. "Typically there would be a negotiation of terms, some benefit to everybody involved. But they can't provide an actual written document. I called it a contract, but Ms. Richard corrected me and said it's an agreement. I said, 'OK, can I get a copy of the agreement?' And she said she would send a 'prototype' of the agreement."
Kerry told Gowdy in a letter earlier this year that the information gathered on refugees by World Relief is considered "proprietary."
Spartanburg County is only one of several areas around the U.S. that have begun to resist the secretive planting of foreign refugees into their communities. WND has reported on organized local resistance movements in Twin Falls, Idaho; Fargo, North Dakota; and St. Cloud, Minnesota.
And Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas, recently introduced HB 3314, the Resettlement Accountability National Security Act, which calls for a halt to the program until it can be fully investigated.
The Center for Security Policy has started an online petition calling for an end to all refugee resettlements unless the locally elected city or county council has had a chance to vote on whether to approve the resettlement. Started Aug. 27, the petition had 1,633 signatures as of Thursday.
Bringing refugee program in from the dark
The refugee resettlement program flew mostly under the radar for 35 years until WND launched a series of investigative articles on the program last summer. More than 35 articles have since been published, unpacking a previously mysterious program that received almost no critical coverage from local or national media.
WND has found that dozens of criminals and terrorists have been allowed into the country as "refugees," and asylum seekers. Two al-Qaida terrorists from Iraq were resettled in Bowling Green, Kentucky, an Uzbek terrorist was resettled in Boise, Idaho, and dozens of Somali terrorists and terrorist sympathizers have been resettled in Minnesota, Maine, Ohio and Virginia.
In just the past year, Sen. Jeff Sessions has documented 72 cases in which likely Muslim immigrants have been arrested and charged with terror-related crimes.
Most of the refugees work in low-wage food processing plants, in the hotel-motel industry, as cab drivers or other service-sector jobs. To make ends meet, they often supplement their income with government assistance such as food stamps, Medicaid and subsidized housing. A Congressional Research Office study, for instance, found that 74.2 percent of refugees in the U.S. make use of food stamps and nearly a quarter live in public housing.
Moved to S.C. to get away from Dearborn
But there are also social costs in terms of refugees who come to America and struggle to assimilate. Wiles said she grew up near Dearborn, Michigan, and moved to South Carolina to escape the increasing "Christian persecution" she saw occurring in that area.
Dearborn's Muslim community, the nation's largest, is known for its hostility toward Christians who try to share their faith. At an Arab Festival in Dearborn in 2012, a group of Christians handing out Bible tracts and carrying signs on public property found themselves attacked by a gang of bottle-throwing Muslims. The local police refused to intervene and allow the Christians to continue exercising their First Amendment rights.
Watch video clip of Muslims stoning Christians at 2012 Arab Fest in Dearborn, Michigan:
"I grew up not far from Dearborn, so when I heard that stuff was going to come here, the people down here (in South Carolina) don’t have a clue what it looks like," Wiles told WND. "I just felt very called to it. I'm not saying people are ignorant, but they don't know what it looks like. They don't know what Dearborn is like, what the Christian persecution is like in Dearborn. And somebody has to warn them what the ramifications are on society with the social and financial burdens that they cannot see."
Many Christians in the Bible-belt city of Spartanburg have been led to believe they will be able to share the gospel with the Muslim refugees, but that will be practically impossible if they work through the official channels of World Relief and its affiliate church organizations.
"Anne Richard verified that when the state takes some of the federal money for this thing that nobody can proselytize anyone," Martel said.
So church people who think they're doing the Lord's work will be disappointed, she said.
"And let's go back to what charity is anyway. It’s not charitable to force someone to pay for what they may not even believe is a good thing," Martel said. "Jesus did not say to go and lobby a politician and bring in people to make them dependent on a welfare system in which you cannot share the gospel with them.
"That's not what the great commission says. So this is not truly evangelical, and it's not true charity, and it's not even decent stewardship. We could help many people abroad for what it costs to bring one person over here. So none of it is evangelical, and it just needs to be called out. It's a misrepresentation of evangelicalism."
The bottom line, according to Martel, is that democracy is undermined whenever government farms its duties out to private agencies, which are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act and not held accountable to the voting, taxpaying public.
"We, as residents of South Carolina, really have a duty to make sure self-government starts with ourselves and we who believe that our sovereign rights start with ourselves, it's really up to us, as individual South Carolina taxpayers standing on state sovereignty issues," she said. "There's been a co-mingling on the way this whole thing has been set up."