South Carolina Lawsuit Underlines Resettlement Concerns of Citizens

Published on February 25th, 2016

The South Carolina Republican Party primary has dominated the news cycle for the last couple of weeks. Lost in the brouhaha is a lawsuit filed by Walter Brian Bilbro, a self-described concerned citizen who opposes refugee resettlement into his state. Bilbro’s lawyer, Lauren Martel, filed the suit against Gov. Nikki Haley, the State Department of Social Services and two nonprofit entities, and called for a refugee resettlement halt in South Carolina “until a full accounting of any and all federal money used in this program and specifically where it was allocated and how allocated (and) in which counties.”

Suddenly, the lawsuit returned the debate about refugee resettlement back into the headlines, and underlined the helplessness average Americans feel when migrants arrive in their hometowns. Despite overwhelming public resistance, the federal government announced late last year that the United States would increase its annual number of refugees to 85,000 in the current fiscal year, including an additional 10,000 from terrorist-sponsoring Syria and Iraq.

Congressional watchdog agency reveals
deep flaws in resettlement programs.

Bilbro’s lawsuit also calls for an end to the current practice of rubberstamping green card applications for unvetted minors, predominantly from Central America, who eventually vanish into the U.S. interior. On February 22, the Government Accountability Office issued a report that showed how pitiful a job Health and Human Services has done in managing the Central American border surge and how little regard the federal government has for citizens’ interests in the process. The Washington Post summarized the report:

“The government agency [HHS] tasked with placing thousands of Central American children into communities while they await immigration court decisions has no system for tracking the children, does not keep complete case files and has allowed contractors to operate with little oversight, according to a report released Monday by the Government Accountability Office.”

The GAO findings prompted Senate Judiciary Chair Charles Grassley and Senator John Cornyn to blast the administration for failing to provide for the children and to adequately monitor the grantees and sponsors.

Sadly, although the GAO consistently does stellar work, the White House rarely heeds its findings. In a footnote to its report, GAO noted that HHS agreed, no doubt a token, with its recommendations – to regularly update its capacity capability, to better monitor the grantees and to provide meaningful post-release summaries.

The Central American surge is in its fifth consecutive year. Hopes for a summer slowdown are slim. In the meantime, abuses like this where minors were forced into slave labor-like conditions on an Ohio poultry farm, sexually assaulted and nearly starved aren’t motivation enough for the White House to pro-actively stop the illegal border crossings.

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