Sample State Department testimony: This one from Texas

As regular readers here know, the US State Department will be taking testimony in mid-May on the “appropriate size and scope” of our refugee resettlement program for fiscal year 2014.

Prior to last year the testimony was almost exclusively from the federal contractors (nine major and approximately 300 subcontractors) looking for more and a greater variety of refugees to resettle to your towns and cities.  Last year citizens concerned with the direction of the program actually outnumbered the contractors in the number of comments submitted.

We have described here how to prepare your testimony.   I also said, I would publish any you wish me to publish.

A reader, John Williams of Texas, has sent us his letter to the US State Department and we share it here with you for inspiration and guidance.  Your testimony may be long or short, detailed or general, but please send in something by the May 8th deadline!

Anne Richard
Asst. Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration
US State Department
Washington, DC. 20520

April 22, 2013

Re: Federal Register Public Notice 8241

Dear Ms Richard:

I am writing to submit written comments on the President’s FY 2014 U.S. Refugee Admissions Program as part of the upcoming May 15 public hearing in Washington, DC. Overall, I am writing to request that Refugee admissions be cut back dramatically to less than 5,000 admittances annually.

There are many reasons for this:

1)    Recent terrorist attacks suggest many refugees being admitted pose substantial risks to the United States and its citizens. There has been a tendency to relax scrutiny of refugees and other aliens in an effort to not appear prejudicial to certain groups or religions. This effort, while perhaps well-intentioned, is naive and dangerous. Some individuals claim persecution precisely because they are considered dangerous to the country in which they live. Admitting such individuals merely moves the danger to the U.S.

2)    If pending Comprehensive Immigration Reform is passed, there will suddenly be a huge additional burden to U.S. unemployment and social services rolls at a time when we can least afford it. Refugees would have to compete with millions of low-skilled workers in an already saturated job market. If we are so anxious to legalize these millions already resident, we should take prudent steps to minimize the impact on our weak economy by reducing other immigrants.

3)    The existing resettlement system does not adequately take into account the desires and resources of the communities in which refugees are placed. As a result, refugees are often “dumped” into an area that is already saturated or is unable to provide the special services refugees often require. This is unfair to the community and can create a huge burden to the local tax base. The federal government should be prepared to support the refugees or not admit them.

4)    Refugee settlement has become a big business that has corrupted what was supposed to be a voluntary activity. If the voluntary agencies are indeed voluntary, they should be self-funding. As long as they depend upon the federal government they will advocate increased levels of admission and funding, regardless of the true cost to local communities or society as a whole.

5)    The refugee program was originally intended to provide safety to small persecuted groups and has become an open-ended tool of US foreign policy. This has perverted the purpose of the program and shows an extreme lack of sensitivity to the communities that are expected to absorb this burgeoning flow of humanity. If the program were reduced then the State Department would presumably select their admissions with better care.

6)    In conjunction with the above, U.S. admissions policy has become subsumed to the needs of the UNHCR. We should not allow a foreign agency to dictate policy to the U.S., especially when it causes adverse effects to local, often small, communities in rural areas. We Americans in “flyover country” do not exist to satisfy the whims and needs of the UNHCR.

7)    Finally, the current high levels of refugee admissions are causing untold damage to small communities all across the U.S. It appears the State Department is either unwilling or unable to acknowledge this very real human cost. This is perceived as callous and arrogant treatment of some of the most generous and caring people in the world. The resulting resentment generated will eventually breed a callous cynicism that will endanger other humanitarian programs deemed desirable by the State Department. This will become apparent when voters demand a general moratorium on foreign aid and an isolationist position for U.S. foreign policy.

Like many programs created by the federal government, the refugee programs have suffered from significant mission-creep and a tendency to become corrupted by the money involved. In all of this the needs of the refugees as well as the “welcoming communities” have become secondary to other priorities. The State Department needs to review the original purpose of the program and what a “voluntary agency” is supposed to be and do. A good way to begin would be to pare admissions to a minimum while re-designing how the program is administered and funded. Enough is enough.


John D Williams

CC:  Senator John Cornyn
Senator Ted Cruz

Representative William Flores

US Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security

House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security

Thanks Mr. Williams!

Again, go here for instructions!

I just realized that we need to make a new category for this year.  Last year some testimony and my commentary of the May meeting was posted here.   I’ll make a category now for ‘Testimony for 5/15/2013 State Dept. meeting’ for your easy access going forward.

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