Refugee Resettlement: What’s Manageable and What’s Not

Published on September 10th, 2015

By Joe Guzzardi
September 10, 2015
With the European Union having announced its migrant quotas and Pope Francis set to visit New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. pressure is mounting on the United States to act swiftly and accept more refugees. President Obama has indicated that he may use his executive authority to, as Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley put it, “open the floodgates” for thousands of Syrians.
Earlier this week, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that each countries’ maximum will be based on its existing population and the gross domestic product. The anticipated total will be 120,000 new refugees in addition to the existing 40,000 that have already been let into the EU.
But the EU is already struggling mightily with assimilating refugees, especially Italy, Hungary and Greece. The 350,000 migrants detected at borders during 2015’s first eight months, many from Syria and Afghanistan, have put Europe’s leaders on high alert. Germany anticipates that 800,000 refugees will relocate by the end of 2015, and is prepared to spend $6.6 billion to feed and house them.
The staggering death totals will be one of Pope Francis’ humanitarian messages as he will certainly try to influence the U.S. to take a larger, more active role in the crisis. More than 2,000 migrants have died during their passage and the survivors tell of abusive treatment by traffickers who inflict violence and abuse their victims.
The Pope has called on every Catholic European parish to accept at least one refugee family. The Vatican announced that it would accept two families. On September 24, when Pope Francis addresses a joint session of Congress, the pontiff will most likely appeal to the U.S. to accept more than its 70,000 current annual average numbers of refugees.
The question becomes what to do after the migrants have taken up residency whether in the U.S. or abroad, and at what cost both financially and emotionally to the accepting countries. Germany’s Interior Minister said that he will have to prepare for changes everywhere—schools, police, housing, courts and the health system. The Minister projects Germany’s cost will be $6.6 billion. Many European leader fear that their societies cannot survive such a huge and costly influx. The Syrian conflict has created over four million refugees. Nearly two million more are fleeing persecution in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia, and this becomes a catastrophe that no amount of European or American generosity can resolve.
The EU has acted quickly but without considering the long and short-term consequences. However many refugees the EU accepts will only be a tiny fraction of those that want to come. The same applies for the U.S. Since 2009, the U.S. has accepted about 70 percent of the refugees, mostly Muslim, placed through United Nations’ programs without guarantees that terrorists or other criminals will be properly screened and barred from entry.
Historically, the U.N. has endorsed safe, supervised camps near to the troubled countries so that when those nations stabilized, the refugees can return home. U.S. Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) has introduced a bill that would ensure that further refugee admissions be suspended until the Government Accountability Office concludes a careful examination of the full costs on local, state and federal governments. As Babin said about the Resettlement National Accountability Act, it “gives an opportunity to examine potential national security issues related to entry and resettlement, particularly as federal law enforcement officials are increasingly concerned about home-grown terrorists.”
Babin’s approach may appear harsh or even cruel, but it’s realistic especially since the number of refugees who want to resettle far exceed those that can practically be taken in.

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

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