You’ve heard me mention several times that on the day before the Paris Islamic terror attack, Don Barnett and I briefed staff of Congressmen and Senators on Capitol Hill on the UN/US Refugee Admissions Program. The briefing was organized by ACT for America. Again, this was before Paris and the whole refugee world was turned on its head.
House of Representatives Briefing
November 12, 2015
~Refugee definition: The 1951 Refugee Convention spells out that a refugee is someone who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”
However, there has been an intentional expansion of the definition. (Unaccompanied Alien Children is an example).
~The Refugee Act of 1980 created the Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) presently being administered to resettle approximately 70,000 refugees each year (in recent years) to the US.
~The Obama Administration increased the projected ceiling to 85,000 for FY2016. 10,000 of those slots are earmarked for Syrian refugees presently being referred to the US by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) which says it has selected 20,000 for consideration so far.
~When the President sends his “Determination” to Congress in advance of the fiscal year (two weeks in advance is required!) it is accompanied by a report (Proposed Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2016). There is supposed to be a legally required consultation with Congress.
~There will be large increases this year from Africa including (but not limited to) DR Congo, Eritrea and Sudan. The largest number of refugees arriving in recent years are from: Burma (Myanmar), Bhutan/Nepal, Iraq, and Somalia. We admitted 120,000 Iraqis since 2007.
~In FY2015, we admitted 1,682 Syrian refugees, less than 40 were Christians/other minorities.
~In 2014, the United States took in 67% of the refugees resettled around the world. The next closest country was Canada with 9.9%.
~The UNHCR refers most of our refugees. The Department of Homeland Security is charged with doing the security screening. The Dept. of State (Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration) works with nine major refugee contractors who along with the State Dept. determine their placement in America. The Dept. of Health and Human Services (Office of Refugee Resettlement) provides grants and additional federal funding mostly through those nine non-profit agencies.
~The anticipated cost to the US Treasury of the resettlement process (not including welfare/Medicaid/education costs) is projected to be just short of $1.2 billion for FY2016.
~The nine non-profit agencies contracted to resettle refugees include: US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Episcopal Migration Ministries, World Relief (Evangelicals), Church World Service, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, International Rescue Committee, Ethiopian Community Development Council, and the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants.
~There are 312 subcontractors working under the nine major contractors in 185 locations around the country. There are 24 offices located around the country for the processing of Unaccompanied Alien Children. A placement site map is available on line (attached).
~The states receiving the highest number of refugees in FY2015 were in descending order: TX, CA, NY, PA, FL, GA, MI, AZ, WA, and NC.
~States receiving no refugees in 2014 or 2015 were: WY, MT. Delaware received none in 2014.
~State and local elected officials have virtually no say in the resettlement process. This is especially so in the so-called Wilson-Fish states where the state doesn’t even have a refugee office under state government and the program is completely run through the US State Department and a non-profit organization. Those states are: AL, AL, CO, ID, KY, LA, MA, NV, ND, SD, TN, VT and San Diego County.
~Refugees are a special class of legal immigrant which permits them to receive virtually all forms of welfare upon arrival.
~Grassroots opposition is growing throughout the US to the resettlement process mostly due to the lack of transparency and the fear of Islamic radicals who might get in through the program.
Some points regarding the proposed Syrian resettlement and the European migration crisis:
~Only about 50% of the migrants flooding Europe today are Syrians. The next highest number are from Afghanistan.
~These are a mix of asylum seekers and economic migrants. Asylum seekers must prove that just as refugees, they fear returning to their homelands for fear of persecution (escaping war per se has never been a part of the refugee definition).
~We are not expected to get refugees from the European flow (Malta exception). Ours will come through UN referrals from mostly UNHCR camps and regional offices.
~The refugee resettlement contractors (NGOs mentioned above) working with the US State Department began advocating several years ago for the resettlement of 15,000 Syrians per year for each of the next 5 years. They then modified their request to 65,000 Syrians before Pres. Obama leaves office. Subsequently they have demanded 100,000 Syrians before 2017.
~Earlier 14 US Senators wrote to the President asking for 65,000 Syrians. A total of 84 Senators and Members of Congress have subsequently urged the President to speed up security screening.
~FBI Director James Comey has told Congress that Syrians cannot be thoroughly screened because the Administration has no access to data (biographic or biometric) on most of them.
This post is filed in our category entitled ‘where to find information’ which now contains 401 previous posts.
EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, one of the camps from which the UNHCR is choosing Syrian refugees to migrate to the United States.