19 Attorneys General Say the Feds Should Make Decisions about Refugee Placement

It seems like an eternity ago that the Trump Administration, via an Executive Order, sought to give local governments and governors a say in whether their county/state would be open to refugee placement during a small portion of the present fiscal year.

In January a court in Maryland halted the President’s plan when refugee contractors filed a lawsuit challenging the reform effort and subsequently the Justice Department appealed the ruling.

Mark Hetfield, President and CEO of HIAS, here at an anti-Trump rally in NYC in 2017.  HIAS sued to stop the President’s Executive order that would have given local governments a voice in resettlement decisions.

Now comes news that 19 states are asserting via an amicus brief that they don’t want local governments (or governors) to have any say and indeed assert that refugee resettlement is the right and responsibility of the federal government.

In effect they are saying that the UN, the US State Department, the Office of Refugee Resettlement, and nine federal contractors know what is best for your county!

This is some of the press release from California Attorney General Xavier Becerra a week ago.  The title is a joke because in supporting the resettlement contractors’ lawsuit they are agreeing to have no states rights when it comes to refugee resettlement decisions.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh today co-led a coalition of 19 attorneys general in an amicus brief filed in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of a lawsuit challenging President Trump’s unlawful executive order on refugee resettlement.

The executive order seeks to upend the existing process by requiring written consent from state and local authorities before being able to place refugees in their jurisdictions.

One of three primary opponents of the President’s efforts to reform the refugee program: Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh

Following a multistate amicus brief at the district court level, the U.S. Department of State was blocked from implementing the executive order while litigation is ongoing.

In this latest amicus following the Trump Administration’s decision to appeal the preliminary injunction issued in HIAS, Inc. v. Trump, the coalition again asserts that the executive order violates the Refugee Act of 1980, undermines family reunification efforts, and disrupts the states’ ability to deliver essential resources that help refugees contribute to the communities that welcome them.

“Our nation is already reeling from an unprecedented economic and public health crisis,” said Attorney General Becerra.“ Now is not the time for the federal government to throw a wrench into a system that helps bring billions of dollars to communities across the country. Standing up for refugees who are lawfully admitted to this country isn’t just right, it’s the smart thing to do. Despite what President Trump might say, refugees are welcome here in California.”

What the heck! The refugee program costs federal and state taxpayers billions of dollars.  They are such liars and no one ever calls them on it.  The comment about family reunification is a lie too—the order specifically says families can be reunited.

So here are the 19 states that ‘welcome’ any and all refugees that the feds and their contractors want to send them!

In submitting the amicus brief, Attorney General Becerra is joined by the attorneys general of Illinois, Maryland, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

More here.

We are only a few months away from the November Presidential election and if the Democrat candidate wins, it will be all over on the issue of refugees.  Biden has already signaled that he will start with 125,000 a year if he wins the White House.

125,000 divided by 19 = 6,578 for each of the welcoming states and then leave the rest of America alone!

COVID Forcing Companies to Move Faster Toward Automation

What does that mean for the masses of refugees and other immigrants waiting to find a spot on the chicken or pork processing line in America?

Frankly, it spells doom and our great minds in Washington had better be working on a plan for managing the millions admitted to the US each year as cheap expendable labor.

“As companies have recovered their revenues and reopened their supply chains, they have increasingly invested not on rehiring the workforce but on automation and on reducing their dependence on manpower.”

(Leslie Joseph at Foresters)

The story is from Forbes and it addresses one of the many changes coming to America in the wake of the Chinese virus ‘crisis.’

Coronavirus Is Forcing Companies To Speed Up Automation, For Better And For Worse

Coronavirus will force companies to speed up their plans to replace jobs with automation, according to a report published by analyst company Forrester. In its report, Forrester notes that many companies are set to invest more in automation than in rehiring in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, corroborating earlier reports that had claimed many businesses were already planning to accelerate their automation strategies.

The news comes as businesses ponder how they can resume working amid lockdowns and social distancing. And while many will take the news as confirmation of their worst automation-themed fears, Forrester’s report urges companies who haven’t already done so to ramp up their automation plans. Indeed, Forrester holds that automation may become key to surviving a coronavirus recession, at least as far as businesses are concerned.

Let’s hope some in Washington are thinking ahead, but don’t hold your breath!

Update:  After I had posted this story, I spotted this one at The New Yorker entitled:

An A.F.L.-C.I.O. Adviser Considers the Future of American Workers

It is all about Presidential politics, race and voting, but a key word is missing when Michael Podhorzer, the former political director of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., who now serves as a senior adviser to the union’s president, Richard Trumka, discusses the future of the American worker in the wake of COVID.

The missing word is AUTOMATION!

Eagle Forum Files Brief in Tennessee States Rights Case

Although stymied by the courts at other levels, the important Tenth Amendment case involving the Constitutional challenge against the federal government’s ever increasing cost-shifting to the states for the care of refugees is still alive.

There was a time when I thought that the political process was the place to change refugee policy in America, but truthfully I am seeing little hope of any real change as Trump enters his fourth year in the White House.

Cutting the number of admissions is fine, but no real structural changes have been sought for the UN/US Refugee Admissions Program by the administration. (The governor approval process seriously backfired, and Congress is useless as members cower in fear of being called racists.)

Maybe there is still some hope that the courts will see how unfair and unconstitutional it is for states to carry a financial burden placed on them by the feds.

From the Thomas More Law Center:

Eagle Forum Files Brief Supporting Thomas More Law Center’s ‘Federalism Challenge’ to Tennessee Refugee Resettlement Program

ANN ARBOR, MI – The Eagle Forum and its Tennessee chapter added their influential voices urging the U.S. Supreme Court to grant the Thomas More Law Center’s request to review (“petition for certiorari”) a Sixth Circuit Court decision which held that the Tennessee General Assembly lacked institutional standing to challenge the Federal Refugee Resettlement program. Their amicus brief (“friend of the court brief”), authored by Nashville attorney Joanne Bregman, was filed late last week.

Bregman observed, “The ongoing conversations between the President and state governors concerning recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is bringing a renewed interest in federalism – the same constitutional principle of dual sovereignty which is the basis of the General Assembly’s lawsuit against federal commandeering of state dollars to fund the federal refugee resettlement program.”

The Thomas More Law Center (“TMLC”), a national nonprofit public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and John Bursch, a nationally prominent appellate lawyer are representing the General Assembly without charge. Bursch authored the General Assembly’s petition for certiorari, which asks the Supreme Court to overturn the Sixth Circuit’s ruling.

The petition for certiorari, filed on March 16, 2020, objects to forcing Tennessee taxpayers to pay the costs of the resettlement: “If a state legislature cannot vindicate its rights in court when the federal government picks the state’s pocket and threatens the state if it dare stop providing funds, then federalism is a dead letter.”

Richard Thompson

The Eagle Forum, a national conservative organization with 80,000 members founded by the late legendary Phyllis Schlafly in 1972, has significantly impacted public policy at both state and national levels. The Tennessee chapter headed by Mrs. Bobbie Patray was the first state chapter to question the power of the federal government to coerce state legislators to use state revenues to fund the federal refugee resettlement program.

Richard Thompson, TMLC’s President and Chief Counsel, commented:

“Justice Scalia considered the principles of federalism, the same principles that undergird our challenge to the federal refugee resettlement program, more important to the American democracy than the Bill of Rights.

Considering the continued controversy between the Nation’s governors and the President over the best way to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, a grant of certiorari would present the Supreme Court with an opportunity to calm the waters over their conflicting claims of power by expounding on Federalism 101.”

Continued Thompson, “Because of the significance of this issue, I’m grateful that the Eagle Forum and its Tennessee chapter were able to assist our efforts to obtain Supreme Court review.”

According to the amicus brief: “Forcing state legislators to expend state resources outside of the normal appropriations process directly interferes with their duties to the state and to their constituents. If the federal government cannot compel a state to fund federal programs, then a state should not be forced to divert funding from essential and traditional state government services in order to operationalize a federal program from which the state has withdrawn.”

Tennessee initially agreed to participate in the federal refugee resettlement program. But when the federal government refused to cover the state costs as it originally promised and as the 1980 Refugee Act intended, Tennessee withdrew from the program in 2008. Nevertheless, the federal government merely designated Catholic Charities of Tennessee, a non-governmental private organization, to continue the program while still forcing the state to pay for it.

Bregman notes the threat to state sovereignty powers by federally coerced spending, especially at a time when the needs of Tennessee’s citizens are dire, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic and a series of deadly tornadoes which ripped through 100 miles of Tennessee counties.

The amicus brief concludes, “There is no room in the Constitution’s framework to permit the federal government or its agencies to take state funds without the express consent of the state’s appropriating body.”

Read the Eagle Forums’ entire amicus brief here.

Read TMLC’s Petition for Certiorari here.

Two additional briefs were filed, see here and here.

 

Will the Supreme Court Hear the Ultimate States Rights Case?

I know it’s a little hard to believe that there are other things going on in America besides the virus crisis, but here is important news I should have mentioned sooner.

The Thomas More Law Center has filed a petition to attempt to get the Supreme Court to review the Tenth Amendment case that has been working its way through the legal system.

The heart of the case is the Tenth Amendment argument that the federal government has no Constitutional power to shift the cost of refugee resettlement onto state governments as it has been doing for decades.

TMLC is looking for other like-minded organizations to file amicus briefs in support of their argument which has far-reaching implications beyond just the refugee program!

Here is their press release from earlier this month.

Thomas More Law Center Petitions U.S. Supreme Court to Review Tennessee’s Challenge to Federal Refugee Resettlement Program

ANN ARBOR, MI – In what could have far reaching implications for all states seeking to withdraw from the federal refugee resettlement program, the Thomas More Law Center (“TMLC”) collaborating with attorney John Bursch, filed a certiorari petition Monday, March 16 in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Will they, or won’t they consider the Tenth Amendment case about how the feds have been dumping the costs of refugee resettlement on the states?

 

The petition asks the Court to hold that the Tennessee General Assembly has standing to challenge the constitutionality of the federal government’s forced state funding of the federal refugee resettlement program. ​

The Thomas More Law Center (“TMLC”) is a national nonprofit public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Both TMLC and Mr. Bursch are representing Tennessee without charge.

John Bursch, a former Michigan state solicitor general, nationally prominent appellate lawyer and past chair of the American Bar Association’s Council of Appellate Lawyers, authored the petition for certiorari.

The petition argues that the issues presented in the Tennessee case cut to the core of the Constitution’s protection of states against overreach by the federal government. The Constitution does not give Congress the authority to appropriate state funds, contrary to the wishes of the state, to fund a federal program.

According to the petition: “If a state legislature cannot vindicate its rights in court when the federal government picks the state’s pocket and threatens the state if it dare stop providing funds, then federalism is a dead letter.”

The petition seeks to overturn a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision which ruled that the General Assembly does not have institutional standing to challenge the constitutionality of the resettlement program. The cert petition does not challenge the federal government’s right to resettle refugees in Tennessee. What it objects to is forcing Tennessee taxpayers to pay the costs of the resettlement.

Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of TMLC, noted: “From the beginning, opposition to the federal refugee resettlement program has been about protecting Tennessee’s state sovereignty from impermissible federal interference. The federal government cannot simply commandeer state tax dollars to fund a purely federal program to extend benefits to noncitizens.”

Tennessee initially agreed to participate in the federal resettlement program because the federal government promised to reimburse 100 percent of the cost. In fact, Congress crafted the 1980 Refugee Act specifically intending that states not be taxed for programs they did not initiate and for which they were not responsible. As is often the case, however, the federal government began shrinking its financial support to the states and by 1991 eliminated it entirely. Due to the mounting costs the federal government was not covering as promised, Tennessee withdrew from the program effective June 30, 2008. But that didn’t stop the federal financial burden on Tennessee taxpayers. The federal government simply designated Catholic Charities of Tennessee, a non-governmental private organization, to continue the program with state dollars.

Between 2007 and the end of 2019, resettlement agencies pumped more than 15,000 refugees into Tennessee cities and towns. They came from Afghanistan, Bosnia, Burma, Central African Republic, Congo, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan 3 and many other countries. They often arrive from United Nations camps in poor health, with no job skills or English-language abilities.

The resulting cost to state taxpayers amounted to tens of millions of dollars. In 2015 alone, the refugee-related Medicaid costs paid by Tennessee tax dollars topped $30 million.

Instead of resolving the merits of Tennessee’s claim, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals sidestepped the pivotal constitutional issue concerning federalism by ruling that the Tennessee General Assembly lacked standing to bring its lawsuit.

The petition filed on March 16, 2020, argues that this was in error:

“The General Assembly is an institutional plaintiff asserting an institutional injury; the federal government has co-opted the General Assembly’s appropriation power and impaired its obligation to enact a balanced state budget. That is because the federal government can siphon state funds—to help pay for a federal program from which Tennessee has withdrawn.”

TMLC originally filed the federal lawsuit in March 2017 on behalf of the State of Tennessee, the Tennessee General Assembly, and state legislators Terri Lynn Weaver and John Stevens challenging the commandeering of millions in state taxpayer dollars for a purely federal program.

A U.S. district court judge dismissed the case on the federal government’s motion. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the lower court’s dismissal on the sole grounds that the General Assembly lacked standing. It never reached the merits of the case.

The Supreme Court now has a chance to shed light on the proper role of the states relative to the federal government—which is the bedrock constitutional principle of federalism.

The petition states: “The (Tennessee) General Assembly does not object to the federal resettlement program. It does not even object to the federal government resettling 4 refugees in Tennessee. The General Assembly does object to the federal government reaching its hand into Tennessee’s pocket to pay for the cost of such a program, particularly when the enabling legislation was enacted with the promise to reimburse states for all expenses incurred in this program.”

The federal government mandates that states provide Medicaid to otherwise eligible refugees, or face termination of federal benefits.

Accordingly, the federal government forces Tennessee to continue funding the refugee program by threatening to pull $7 billion in federal Medicaid funding, which represents 20 percent of the state’s total budget.

The argument in favor of the General Assembly’s standing is bolstered by the fact that both chambers of the Tennessee General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in 2016 in favor of filing a civil lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the federal refugee resettlement program. The State Senate passed Senate Joint Resolution 467, by a vote of 27-5 while the House voted 69-25 to pass the same resolution.

And without any waiting period they can automatically apply for all welfare programs provided by the State of Tennessee.

Read TMLC’s Petition for Certiorari here. 

If you know any organization that is in agreement with the broad-reaching tenets of the case, please have them contact the Thomas Moore Law Center immediately.  Time is short!

Former Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman Brags about Role in Creating Refugee Act 40 Years Ago

I’m posting this opinion piece by the former Democrat Representative from New York merely to continue to give ‘credit’ where credit is due to those who helped create the dysfunctional Refugee Admissions Program that turned forty last Tuesday.

Holtzman came out of the woodwork and used the occasion of the anniversary to pen yet another hit piece on the President with this, posted at CNN:

The Refugee Act reminds us to not forget our humanity — especially now

(CNN) As the global Covid-19 pandemic unfolds, it puts into sharp focus how the Trump administration’s harsh immigration policies may lead to (yet another) humanitarian crisis — this time along the US-Mexico border, where thousands of asylum seekers are living in overcrowded makeshift encampments, many without running water. If there were a coronavirus outbreak in one of these encampments — which are already short on medical supplies — the results could be catastrophic.

Elizabeth Holtzman says she and Teddy Kennedy created the Refugee Program 40 years ago.

Meanwhile, the President is describing Covid-19 as a “Chinese virus” on Twitter and in news conferences, stoking xenophobia and fear — and continuing to undermine the United States’ global leadership.

It wasn’t always this way. Forty years ago this week, when Sen. Ted Kennedy and I co-authored the Refugee Act of 1980, the United States was a different country. It largely welcomed asylum seekers and refugees, and the Refugee Act reflected that humane view. In the act, our country made a permanent commitment to admitting refugees, based on the international non-discriminatory standard of fleeing persecution, and established an asylum procedure inside the United States.

The Refugee Act was not controversial. It sailed through the Senate unanimously and won overwhelming approval in the House before President Jimmy Carter signed it into law on March 17, 1980.

Apparently it was controversial because here we learn that 62% of Americans did not want to welcome hundreds of thousands of refugees to America.

If Carter had a Twitter account at that time, I imagine he would have pointed to the United States’ proud tradition of welcoming the most vulnerable: the 360,000 people who fled Fidel Castro’s takeover in Cuba in the mid 1960s, the tens of thousands of Jewish refugees who fled the Soviet Union beginning in the 1970s, and the more than 400,000 refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos who arrived here by 1980.

Holtzman then describes how her family came to America as refugees escaping Communism with the help of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (aka HIAS).

I see now how they got their inside track to the federal treasury money spigot.***

From 1980 to January 2017 — for 37 years and under six presidents — the Refugee Act worked well. More than 3 million refugees were admitted and overwhelmingly became productive participants in our country, just as my family did.  [I can play that game too! For every successful refugee I can find you one who is a criminal, terrorist, murderer or just a plain old mooch!—ed]

Yet every year since Trump took office in 2017, he has slashed the number of refugees admitted under the Refugee Act. For this year, it is 18,000, a historic low, reflecting his ongoing battle against admitting new refugees, immigrants and asylum seekers.

More here.

The US State Department has said that refugee arrivals will resume on April 6th.  How many of you think the virus crisis will be abating by then.  Show of hands!

*** For fun I went back to the first Annual Report to Congress in 1980 to see which resettlement contractors were operational (being paid by taxpayers to place refugees in your towns and cities) and found this list.

I’ve marked those that are still, 40 years later, receiving millions of your tax dollars. Six of nine have been in on the deal for those 4 decades. No wonder they are furious at the President for breaking their rice bowls.

 

 

Go here to the Office of Refugee Resettlement and see all of the Annual Reports to Congress.  They are very informative and you might have a little extra time these days for reading ‘pleasure.’