Here is the latest from proposed new refugee resettlement site—Spartanburg, SC (see our original story with updates here).
Elected officials at the state and local level are doing exactly what they should do—gather the facts, present them to the public and then get a consensus of the community if the community wants to encourage the resettlement of third worlders to their town.
[Be sure to see Obama’s Task Force on New Americans release on Friday, here, before proceeding]
Although the number planned for Spartanburg for this year is only 65 refugees to begin with, remember that more and more will come every year as the resettlement contractor must pay their overhead (office space, salaries etc.) and is compensated by the head by the US State Department to resettle refugees and ultimately their family members (and they begin getting grants from the Office of Refugee Resettlement in the Dept. of Health and Human Services).
Once the flow of refugees and money has begun it is virtually impossible to stop. (Ask the mayors of Manchester, NH, Springfield and Lynn, MA, and Amarillo, TX).
Here is the news yesterday from GoUpstate.com and reporter Kim Kimzey (emphasis is mine):
Local officials are joining Congressman Trey Gowdy in demanding answers about a Spartanburg refugee resettlement plan.
Spartanburg County Legislative Delegation members met with Josh Baker, Gov. Nikki Haley’s director of budget and policy, on Wednesday to ask about the resettlement process, Rep. Donna Hicks said in a phone interview Thursday.
Hicks said Baker fielded questions and concerns from the legislators, including the state Department of Social Services’ (DSS) involvement with World Relief, the nonprofit working with churches to resettle refugees in the area. Hicks said they received information on how the government funds refugee resettlement.
She said they are awaiting answers to other questions. Hicks plans to hold a town hall meeting to share information with constituents.
Hicks said news of the resettlement effort caught Spartanburg Legislative delegation members “totally by surprise.”
It is always by surprise!
Consultation with local officials is required under refugee law. The federal contractor will say they “consulted” with local officials, but if they do, it is only with those who have been previously identified as friendly. And ‘consulting’ with local church leaders does not count!
Spartanburg citizens are just lucky that they found out now, and not a year from now, when the program would be entrenched.
Eight House members — including seven from the Spartanburg County delegation — on Thursday introduced a resolution asking DSS to provide information on the resettlement to “ensure accountability and transparency” in the use of public funds and “other costs of providing government services.”
She [Hicks] said concerns from constituents include possible terrorists among the refugees since their native countries are unknown; that Spartanburg would be “overrun” with too many refugees who could burden agencies, such as schools that would need to provide translators; or that a large Muslim population would arrive and choose not to assimilate, saying that has happened in other communities.
Hicks said one question is whether state officials have the right of refusal. [That is the 64 thousand dollar question!—ed]
A town hall meeting is planned sometime in the coming weeks, but no date has been set. Hicks has invited Haley and Gowdy. She said delegation members also would attend. [You must invite the US State Department to send a representative! Contact the Asst. Sec. of State for Population, Refugees and Migration.—ed]
“We want to separate conspiracy theories and rumors from the actual facts,” Hicks said, adding that they want to present constituents accurate information about who’s involved, what’s going on and what they can expect.
They want to review the “plan!”
His [Spartanburg County Councilman Justin Bradley] concern stems from “lack of information and opportunity to review the plan provided to the local community and elected officials.”
Demand the “plan.” There is one!
In order for the US State Department to grant funding, the contractor—World Relief, in this case—has submitted documentation to the US State Department, most likely prepared by the new prospective resettlement agency headed by Jason Lee which lays out for the feds what amenities (schools, health care, subsidized housing, jobs, etc.) your town has to offer the new refugees and what the capacity is for your town for the number that could be accommodated. For some contractors it is called an “abstract.”
Ask for the abstract or whatever World Relief might be calling the PLANNING document.
You might find it ‘fun’ (not!) to see what amenities your town is offering (without you knowing it!).
Bottomline: Get all the facts and make a decision based on the facts—all of the facts!
Update April 20th: Here is more on how to get the plan!