President Obama’s accelerated plan to resettle up to 200,000 Syrian refugees in the United States over the next two years faces a tsunami of opposition from American citizens, and their security concerns over the program have pressed elected officials at every level into action.
Senator Jeff Sessions conducted an oversight hearing on the resettlement plan, and today House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called for a task force to find a way to put the program on hold until their security concerns could be addressed and resolved. A number of congressmen have made statements in opposition, and some have proposed bills prohibiting the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the U.S.
Last night the Dept. of Homeland Security, the FBI, and the State Department held a classified briefing in an attempt to assuage the concerns of members of Congress. South Carolina congressman Mick Mulvaney said the briefing did not offer much new information but added he has done his own research and determined that the vetting process amounts to little more than a question on a form asking, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” Mulvaney expects a House vote today which would require the agencies to specifically vet each refugee in detail prior to approval for resettlement. “That would be the ‘pause’ some have referred to,” he said.
Pressure is being applied at the state level as well, and as of this writing over 30 governors have stated opposition to Syrian refugee resettlement in their respective states. South Carolina governor Nikki Haley was an early advocate of the program, but acquiesced to calls for tighter security and wrote a letter to the State Department requesting a hold on Syrian refugees headed for her state. South Carolina state representative Chip Limehouse plans to file a bill that would prevent the state from funding refugee relocation.
At the local level, county councils in South Carolina, supported by fervid testimony from constituents at council meetings, are passing resolutions that they hope would prevent Governor Haley from placing refugees in their counties. Greenville County’s resolution stated, in part: “…the Greenville County Council will not approve or proceed with the United States Refugee Resettlement Program and rejects the expenditure of state funds to assist the United States Refugee Resettlement Program in Greenville County.”
While the Greenville County resolution won unanimous approval, as did similar bills in Berkeley and Pickens counties, York County’s motion by councilman Bruce Henderson failed for lack of a second. Councilman Robert Winkler told me he is completely opposed to any program that might bring a terrorist to our shores. When asked why he wouldn’t second the motion, he said, “We just didn’t have enough time to know exactly what we were voting for. But I don’t really think there is anything we can do about it anyway – if Governor Haley wants to put refugees in our county, she can just do it, no matter what we say.” Winkler pointed out that not much county money is spent directly on refugees other than the cost of police, fire departments, and schools. Benefits such as food stamps, cash welfare, health care and housing are funded by the state and federal governments, so the county does not have any control over expenditures for refugees.
It’s not clear exactly who, if anyone, has the authority to stop the Obama administration from proceeding with the resettlement of Syrian refugees, or, for that matter, any other refugees.
Governor Haley contends that no Syrian refugees have been resettled in South Carolina to date. If the predominantly conservative local and state officials prevail, that status will not change any time soon.
This article is sponsored by Watchdog Arena.
Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side
And if she should tell you “come closer”
And if she tempts you with her charms
Tell her no no no no no-no-no-no
No no no no no-no-no-no
No no no no no
Don’t hurt me now for her love belongs to me
They song may be from 1965. But the Zombies are still alive!