By Joe Guzzardi
May 27, 2016
A few weeks ago, the Obama administration quietly slashed the processing time for admitting new Syrian and Iraqi refugees from an average 18-24 months to three. The shorter time frame goes counter to security experts’ advice, but helps Obama meet his goal of resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the fiscal year, September 2016. The refugees resettled last year are overwhelmingly Muslim males between the ages of 14-50.
Obama, who said last year that the State Department’s vetting of the Middle Eastern refugees is the “most rigorous process conceivable,” is a target for harsh criticism of his apparent indifference to Americans’ safety and security. And with good reason. No presidential administration in recent history, has demonstrated the slightest ability to manage the federal government’s multiple immigration programs, much less costly, complex and fraud-ridden refugee resettlement.
An excellent example of the chaos that accelerated resettlement creates comes out of Utica, N.Y. In 2015, from a population of about 65,000, one in every six Utica residents is a refugee, nationals from 30 countries, and speaking 41 languages in the city’s schools. A State Department official told a 2005 Senate hearing that the refugees would revitalize Utica. But during the following 11 years, something quite different from revitalization, and more like turmoil, unfolded in Utica. The refugee influx overwhelmed the school district which eventually sued New York State for more aid. The district said that it lacked enough resources for its 1,800 foreign-born students who came to Utica through the federal refugee program and who needed translators, social workers, guidance counselors and more English Language Learner teachers. The district’s curriculum director said that many of the refugee children enroll with less than a second grade education.
Instead of slowing resettlement into Utica, the Department of Labor decided instead to infuse $2 million in taxpayer money to the city’s refugee youth to help them get jobs this summer. Throwing money at a social challenge is always the feds’ preferred solution. But for Utica’s citizen children hoping for a decent education or a fair shot at summer employment, they’re flat out of luck.
Obama gets the brunt of America’s ire about refugee resettlement, a plan the nation is kept in the dark about and disapproves of once they learn what’s going on behind their backs. But Republican leadership has turned a blind eye to Americans’ concerns, too. Last year, U.S Representative Trey Gowdy announced that the House Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee would hold a hearing to, according to his press release, “examine the Syrian refugee crisis and its impact on the security of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.”
But Gowdy abruptly cancelled the hearing without scheduling a new date. His timing was curious since refugees are a red-hot topic in his South Carolina home state. Baltimore-based World Relief, a nonprofit agency that works in tandem with the federal government, recently opened a new office in Spartanburg, a city of 37,000, to facilitate more Syrian resettlement.
A more powerful Republican, House Speaker Paul Ryan, is a major resettlement facilitator. In last year’s must-pass Omnibus bill, Ryan could have defunded Obama’s resettlement program which would have effectively ended that program. Transforming America and at the same time exposing citizens to potential terrorism threats should be, but is not, dead on arrival in a Republican-controlled Congress.
Leader Ryan has worked hard to ensure that the resettlement surge goes forward, and that President Obama will achieve one of his most coveted goals before he leaves office.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]