Spending Bill to Avert Government Shutdown Gives Billions for Afghan Resettlement, Ignores Border Crisis

On Thursday, Congress passed a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the federal government at current levels until February 18, 2022. This prevented a feared government shutdown, something both parties aimed to avoid. However, it was not a “clean” continuing resolution, as it also included $7 billion for Afghan resettlement and zero dollars to address the raging crisis at our border.

Including billions for Afghans sheds light on the misguided immigration priorities of those on Capitol Hill, especially Democrats, who control both chambers. Instead of providing supplemental funding to address a historic crisis at the southern border, it gives the Biden administration another $7 billion to continue importing unvetted and unscreened Afghans.

The language in the bill is broad and ripe for future abuse. For instance, the bill gives $36 million for additional relocation services provided by the State Department. The section (Title IV) does not specify that future individuals have to be Afghans. The bill applies to any and all “individuals at risk as a result of the situation in Afghanistan” (emphasis added). This is an incredible legislative blind spot. Any individual at risk because of the fallout over the War in Afghanistan could qualify for relocation. Think of how many people could fall into such a category – foreign military, anyone in-region affected by fleeing Afghans, etc.

FAIR noted at the time that America’s charity and assistance to Afghan refugees was best served by providing services – including relocation – in the Middle East and closer to Afghanistan. Afghans are best served by resettling them in countries that share cultural, religious, and linguistic ties. There are well-documented instances of Afghans struggling to acclimate to American life. This should not come as a surprise.

It is also more expensive to resettle Middle Eastern refugees in the United States. Research from the Center for Immigration Studies found that it is 12 times more expensive to resettle a refugee in the United States. Put another way, the U.S. could help 12 times as many people by focusing on in-region resettlement. Resettling refugees in the U.S. may make us feel good, but it absorbs resources that could help many more desperate people.

Instead of allocating funding to strengthen border security or empower our immigration enforcement agencies, Congressional leaders chose to throw more money at refugee resettlement.

COLUMN BY

Preston Huennekens joined FAIR in 2019 as a Government Relations Associate. He supports the Government Relations department’s advocacy and research efforts. Before joining FAIR, Preston served as a Research Associate at the Center for Immigration Studies. He has prior experience in immigration policy, congressional campaigns, and grassroots issue advocacy. He holds both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Political Science from Virginia Tech.

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EDITORS NOTE: This FAIR column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

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