Congressman Raul Labrador is chairing a rare hearing Thursday on refugee resettlement, a federal program that has drawn its share of criticism in recent years.
Labrador, R-Idaho, heads up the subcommittee on immigration and border security and has also announced his intention to run for governor of Idaho next year. His state has experienced much upheaval over the issue of refugee resettlement, including the sexual assault of a 5-year-old special needs girl by three refugee boys, an incident that divided the city of Twin Falls into two camps, those wanting the resettlements from the Middle East to stop and those who wish to see them continue.
Advertisement - story continues below
The mayor and council of Twin Falls have sided with those wanting unlimited refugee resettlement, passing a resolution declaring itself a "Welcoming City" earlier this year.
Similar controversy is brewing in Minnesota, where just this week the mayor and city council of St. Cloud, where the council also declared its "welcoming" status. That despite the fact that a Somali refugee carried out a brutal knife attack against shoppers at a St. Cloud mall last summer, injuring 10 people, and another Somali murdered a St. Cloud man at a house party.
While corporate titans in the meatpacking, yogurt and hotel industries love the refugee program for its ability to deliver cheap foreign labor to their doorsteps, and Democrats see it as a voter registration drive, the taxpayers who voted for the American-first agenda of President Trump are getting restless. Many are asking for the refugee program's head on a platter.
Advertisement - story continues below
Some of the members of Labrador's committee, along with Labrador himself, seem inclined to agree with the Trump agenda – but only to an extent.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., had this to say on the subcommittee's website:
“We must maintain our nation’s generosity toward those in need but must also ensure our nation’s humanitarian programs are not abused by those seeking to harm our nation and our citizens. This week, the Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee will closely look at the Refugee Admissions Program and examine the concerns that have been raised about it in recent years, including fraud and abuse, vetting procedures, the lack of consultation with state and local communities, and the arbitrary annual ceiling. I look forward to hearing how the Trump Administration is addressing these concerns to enhance the safety of our nation and ensure that the program works as intended to benefit those most at risk of persecution.”
Labrador has introduced a bill, HR 2826, which he says would also curb fraud while shoring up the screening process and "give states and communities a voice in refugee-resettlement decisions."
Trump cuts back but can't stop the flow
Advertisement - story continues below
Trump has cut the annual cap on refugees from 50,000 in 2017 to 45,000 in fiscal 2018. The average under President Obama was around 70,000 per year.
But some would like to see the program phased out completely, or reserved for the most persecuted people, such as Christians driven from their homes in Iraq and Syria by ISIS.
But even Labrador, one of the more conservative Republicans and a member of the House Freedom Caucus, talks about "restoring confidence in the refugee program" by reforming it, not eliminating it.
A program that has allowed the United Nations to pluck more than 3 million poverty-stricken, unskilled, non-English speakers from the Third World and distribute them into about 300 U.S. cities and towns since 1990, without the consent of local taxpayers, has worn out its welcome, critics say.
Advertisement - story continues below
"If these congressmen get anywhere near touching on these issues of fraud and abuse, I will be amazed," says Ann Corcoran, a government watchdog who blogs at Refugee Resettlement Watch. "I've been following this program for 10 years and I can assure you, I have never heard Congress address fraud and abuse or the lack of consultation at the local level."
Local control: A burning issue
The issue of local control is right now a festering issue in St. Cloud, Minnesota, where a citizens group has asked for a study of the economic impact of refugees. But earlier this week the mayor and council refused to even hear their case and instead passed a resolution doubling down on their position as a "Welcoming City" – essentially rubbing salt in the wounds of local taxpayers.
Four bureaucrats will testify at Thursday morning's hearing on Capitol Hill, including Simon Henshaw, an Obama holdover who is running the refugee program at the State Department.
"It's been disappointing that the president has not appointed his own person to this post. Mr. Henshaw, he is a career bureaucrat, and President Trump has made no choice to replace him. It is, frankly, very sad," Corcoran said. "Imagine if someone like Michele Bachmann were running that program. She would get it under control."
Transforming cities under guise of humanitarianism
The argument used to justify the United Nations-driven population shift from the Third World to the West is that these are persecuted and displaced persons. But that humanitarian premise is just window dressing to cover what is basically a massive wealth redistribution program causing more poverty in the West by emptying out dirt-poor countries like Somalia, Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Sudan.
People in predominantly Christian America have been noticing that the refugees being sent their way in recent years have been increasingly Muslim, even as wealthy Muslim-majority nations like Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states have barred their doors to the poor Muslim refugees.
Many of the receiving cities have willing accomplices, mayors, county managers and city councils who wave the "Welcoming City" banner. But others, such as Mayors Ted Gatsas of Manchester, New Hampshire; Paul Harpole of Amarillo, Texas; and Brooks Patterson of Oakland County, Michigan, have pleaded for the feds to turn off the refugee spigot. Their cries have largely been ignored.
The impact of refugee resettlement on a town often isn't noticeable to the local population until the program gets five to 10 years in, enough time to build an enclave, which is followed by a large mosque project in a residential neighborhood. That's when symptoms start to manifest in the form of higher costs for public schools, health care and policing, not to mention the rise of ghettoized Section 8 housing.
Labrador's home state of Idaho is one of several states where citizens are starting to notice the negative symptoms and are asking tough questions.
Who decides where to send the refugees, and how are such decisions made, based on what criteria? Why do refugees who commit crimes hardly ever get deported?
People in the so-called "pockets of resistance" have criticized the refugee program, saying it lacks transparency. They want local veto power over the system's opaque federal decision-making process. And they want accountability to state and local taxpayers.
Labrador has a bill in the House that he says would give cities the power to reject refugees, but some say that authority is already in the Refugee Act of 1980 and is being violated by the nine refugee resettlement agencies that get paid by the feds to deliver refugees to cities.
The nine agencies secretly placing refugees into U.S. cities are as follows:
• Church World Service (CWS)
• Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC) (secular)
• Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM)
• Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)
• International Rescue Committee (IRC) (secular)
• US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) (secular)
• Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS)
• United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)
• World Relief Corp. [division of National Association of Evangelicals]
Idaho, a small-population agricultural state, has been pummeled with more than 11,000 refugees, hand-selected by the U.N., since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. Most have gone to Boise and Twin Falls, with efforts to sneak them into Sandpoint so far unsuccessful.
Uprisings have occurred in the southern Idaho city of Twin Falls, as well as up north in Sandpoint, where no refugees have been delivered yet but the locals have put their elected leaders on notice that they're not in a particularly "welcoming" mood after seeing the effect that the Third World has had on Twin Falls.
A 5-year-old special needs girl was sexually assaulted in the laundry room of the apartment complex where she lived with her family. Three refugee boys, all under 15, pleaded guilty to the crime, the details of which were kept hidden due to the decision to prosecuted even the oldest boy in the juvenile system. The boys, ages 7, 10 and 14, were resettled in the area from Iraq and Sudan, and none of their families were deported after the guilty pleadings.
In Twin Falls, the world largest yogurt plant, operated by Chobani, has served as a magnet for low-cost refugee labor, similar to the way meatpacking plants have served as a catalyst for refugee placements in Minnesota, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, North Carolina, Georgia, Colorado and Missouri/Arkansas.
The mayor of Sandpoint, Shelby Rognstad, has tried to lay out the welcome mat for Syrian refugees but was forced to retract his proposal after extreme blow-back from the community.
So Labrador has every incentive to ask some of these tough questions at Thursday's hearing, which starts at 9 a.m. Eastern time, at the Rayburn Building.
Besides in Idaho and Minnesota, uprisings against refugee resettlement have been ongoing in Sterling Heights, Michigan; Rutland, Vermont; in various parts of Texas and in Montana.
One of the speakers at an anti-refugee rally in Helena, Montana, last year was a woman who moved recently to Montana from Amarillo, Texas, a city that has received thousands of refugees over the past 15 years.
"Amarillo is overrun with refugees," said Karen Sherman, who stood and spoke to the crowd amid blowing wind and falling snowflakes. Sherman had just moved to Missoula, a college town that was considering taking in Syrian refugees.
It's a far cry from Amarillo, which she described as a city of rampant crime and cracking social fabric, thanks to the heavy influx of refugees sent there by the U.S. State Department in cooperation with the U.N.
"Our city is failing because of the refugees. We have 22 different languages spoken in our schools. We've got 42 languages being fielded by our 9-1-1 call centers, and crime is just through the roof," Sherman said. "We need to exercise caution, especially for the sake of our children."
The protesters carried signs that read, "Christian Refugees 2 Christian Nations, Muslim Refugees 2 Muslim Nations, That's Only Fair," and "Refugee Resettlement Means Big $$$$$ – No Accountability."
Touching off a rape epidemic
Sherman said Amarillo, a city of 200,000 people, has gang violence that has surpassed that of much larger Texas cities such as Fort Worth. She fears U.S. cities like Amarillo and Minneapolis could be in line to become the next Rotherham, England, or Cologne, Germany, or Stockholm, Sweden, where mass rapes by Muslim men have become commonplace.
Amarillo was recently named the fifth most dangerous city in Texas, according to FBI crime statistics, up from sixth the previous year. And it has been nationally recognized as having one of the highest rates of rape in the nation.