First Syrians Land in U.S., Thousands to Follow

Published on April 11th, 2016

By Joe Guzzardi
April 11, 2016
A few months ago, President Obama reassured skeptical Americans that the 10,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees he’s committed to resettling during fiscal 2016 would undergo rigorous two-year vetting. By inference, Obama suggested that FBI Director James Comey is misguided in his insistence that new refugees cannot be thoroughly checked. According to Comey, not enough data exists on the incoming refugees to do in-depth background checks on them. No one really knows who they are or what their intensions might be.
But abruptly, the administration changed the rules. Obama has announced that his refugee program will now proceed under “surge” conditions. Two years of processing has been condensed into three months, and about 600 Syrians, 99 percent Sunni Muslims, are interviewed daily at a Jordan resettlement center.
Last week, the first surged Syrian family left Jordan and landed in Kansas City, Missouri. According to a CBS story, Amhad Al-Abboud was unemployed in Jordan and survived on food coupons, but hopes to take advantage of his new home’s “job opportunities” and a “good education” for his children.
While resettling Al-Abboud, his wife, and five children may seem the humanitarian thing to do, “who we are” as advocates like to say, his family will immediately receive public assistance. Al-Abboud is unlikely to have any special skills that will attract employers. Beyond that, Al-Abboud’s non-Englsih speaking school-age children will add to Kansas City’s education crisis where in recent years, schools have closed and under-paid, over-worked teachers have fled the state. The seven-person Al-Abboud family is merely the beginning. Gina Kassem, the U.S. Embassy’s regional refugee coordinator in Jordan, said that: “10,000 [refugees] is a floor and not a ceiling.”
Accelerating the Syrian and Iraqi resettlement reconfirms Obama’s dismissive attitude toward Americans’ safety and well-being. A Danish study found that second generation Muslims are 200 percent more prone to violence than the first generation, a conclusion the tragic slaughters in Paris and Brussels confirmed. The report also identified as a reason to be leery of resettling refugees is their heavy welfare dependency, and chain migration which will eventually increase their numbers.  
Even putting aside the terrorism threats that waves of Syrians and Iraqi represent, no realistic case can be made that inviting 10,000 or more Middle Eastern refugees, placing them thousands of miles away from their homes and cultures, relocating them in cities across America, and subsidizing their existence benefits citizens.
Numerous polls show that Americans are strongly opposed. Often residents are unaware that refugees will be coming to their towns until the last minute. Getting steamrolled by a lame duck Obama administration that refuses to make a federally mandated consultation with Congress is just one more reason voters are angry.
A more effective solution should be considered. A study undertaken by the non-partisan Center for Immigration Studies found that on average, each Middle Eastern refugee resettled in the U.S. costs taxpayers an estimated $64,370 for the first five years, or $257,481 per household including processing fees and welfare benefits. Alternatively, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees requested $1,057 annually to care for each Syrian refugee in countries that neighbor Syria. The bottom line: for the cost to resettle one refugee in the U.S. for five years, 12 refugees could be helped in the Middle East during the same period.
But the Obama administration never gave this common sense resolution a token look, not surprising in light of what he apparently perceives as his legacy-building refugee outreach.

Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]

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