Readers, this (below) is what I am sending to the US State Department today. If you have followed RRW for years you will recognize this as a modification of the first testimony I sent in 2012. Frankly, nothing much has changed!
Some things have gotten worse. Only one issue I raised then has been improved—they get the ORR Annual Reports to Congress done more quickly. They still aren’t getting them to Congress when the law says they should, but almost.
One issue that is much worse is the prospect that an Islamic terrorist could slip into the refugee flow to America with the huge increase in the number of refugees coming from Syria, Iraq and Somalia.
However, for the first time in the almost 9 years I’ve written this blog, there is a little window of hope that the Refugee Admissions Program could be dramatically altered if President Donald Trump does half of what he says he will do (and Congress does its job of reviewing the entire program).
If Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders are elected President, this program will continue on steroids. There will be no reform.
Here are ten points slightly modified, but essentially the same as I sent to the State Department 4 years ago.
1) Refugees take jobs that low-skilled Americans and teens need. The program was never meant to be simply a way to import impoverished people to the US and place them on an already overtaxed welfare system. Those that do find work are taking jobs that American citizens need.
2) The program has become a cash cow for various ‘religious’ organizations and other contractors who very often appear to care more about the next group of refugees coming in (and the cash that comes with each one) than the group they resettled only a few months earlier. Stories of refugees suffering throughout the US are rampant.
Indeed, there is no accountability for the billions of tax payer dollars going to the program. Short of a complete halt to resettlement-by-contractor, taxpayers should be protected by legally requiring financial audits of contractors and subcontractors on an annual basis.
3) Terrorist organizations have threatened to use the program that still clearly has many failings in the security screening system. Indeed consideration should be given to halting the resettlement of Muslims altogether. Also, the UN should have no role in choosing refugees for the US. There is no reason we can’t make the decision about who we want to ‘welcome’ to America without UN meddling.
5) Congress has not specifically disallowed the use of the refugee program for other purposes of the US Government, especially using certain refugee populations to address other foreign policy objectives—Uzbeks, Kosovars, Meshketians, Syrians, Iraqis, Somalis, and Bhutanese (Nepalese) people come to mind.
9) If Congress and the President determine we must have some refugee program, a mechanism should be established that would help a refugee go home if he or she is unhappy or simply can’t make it in America.
For these reasons and more, the Refugee admissions program should be placed on hold and a serious effort made by Congress to either scrap the whole thing or reform it during the moratorium. My recommendation for 2017 is to stop the program now.
The Office of the President/US State Department could indeed ask for Congressional hearings to review the Refugee Act of 1980-–more than three decades is time enough to see its failings and determine if reauthorization is feasible or if a whole new law needs to be written.