It was a typical meeting of Americans for Freedom and Prosperity.
The group was once the Clackamas County chapter of Americans for Prosperity, until AFP pulled out of Oregon to concentrate efforts in states the national office felt were more conducive to grassroots organization in support of small-government, free-market conservatism. Despite this loss of official imprimatur, the people involved kept the organization going. Now 867 members strong, the so-called “Clackstanis” have been meeting each month since before the tea party.
A typical meeting: consternation about how the Democrat-dominated legislature in Salem has fast-tracked and passed bills targeting gun ownership and implementing automatic DMV voter registration. Concerns about efforts to place on the ballot a job-killing hike in a minimum wage that is already the second highest in the nation ($9.25). A spirited discussion of county level issues, including the need to repair a deteriorating transportation infrastructure and the ongoing struggle to keep regional governmental entity Metro from bringing its “sustainable, smart-growth” vision to a county that is the most center-right among the Portland area’s three regional counties.
There were applause lines, moments of tension between elected officials, information about opportunities for political activism, and even a few laughs.
Then came time for featured speaker Eva Small, a registered nurse and concerned citizen, representing the Oregon chapter of ACT for America (AFA). AFA’s mission is to educate citizens about troubling developments regarding the issue of refugee resettlement in the U.S., and promote action to stop it.
Many in attendance were already aware of how the Refugee Act of 1980 (facilitated by President Carter, Senators Ted Kennedy and Joe Biden) has morphed into a program by which millions of taxpayer dollars are spent resettling unvetted and unvettable immigrants from countries whose values, beliefs, and culture are anathema to our constitutional republic.
It was equally clear that other members of the group had not heard the realities spelled out for them.
It’s never too late for a refresher course, right?
The numbers are slippery. The Obama administration has asked for 10,000 Syrian refugees in fiscal year 2016, but the contractors–known officially as Voluntary Agencies (VOLAGs)–want 100,000. They’re making money hand-over-fist with the multi-billion-dollar, federally run, lobbyist-infiltrated program, with no end in sight. The estimated number of Syrian refugees slated for admission in fiscal 2016 is 70,000.
The list of the nine main contractors is top-heavy with Christian denominations, though AFA characterizes them as “posing” as Christian charities: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, Episcopal Migration Ministries, among others. Other VOLAGs are Christian-sounding, like Church World Service, which garnered over $4.5 million for resettlement contracts and grants in 2012.
In fiscal year 2014, of the 1,682 Syrians resettled, only 40 were Christians or other religious minorities. The refugees—parceled in Obama administration quotas–are coming from camps in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan, among other areas.
Numerous secular organizations are in on the action, including the International Rescue Committee, the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, and a Jewish organization, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.
“These are the main players in this covertly-run program,” said Small. “It is shameful that the Refugee Act hasn’t been reviewed in thirty-five years.”
After several months with the contractor, the costs of refugee resettlement trickle quickly down to the states. Can a state refuse the resettlement? “The State Department says no,” says Small, “but it’s never been tested.” She cites Craven County, North Carolina, and Twin Falls, Idaho, as examples of places that were able to circumvent the placement of refugees.
Resettled refugees are not illegal aliens. They immediately become eligible for welfare entitlements, including Social Security, food stamps, Medicaid, Medicare, subsidized housing, jobs, education, childcare and translators. Within one year, refugees must receive a green card. Within five years they become U.S. citizens.
AFA estimates that the cost for transportation of these Syrian refugees is $1.2 billion taxpayer dollars. Worldwide, the United States gets 67% of all refugees; Russia, China, Portugal, and the Gulf states take none.
Once a local jurisdiction is in the program, elected officials and citizens find that it becomes extremely difficult to extricate their communities. Manchester, NH, Springfield, MA, and Amarillo, TX have all tried, and failed.
Refugees are permitted entry into the U.S. with AIDS/HIV, tuberculosis, and other medical and mental health problems, and likely won’t be seeking care at private practices.
Education, judicial, and healthcare systems will be particularly affected by language-barrier issues; AFA cites data which show that as many as 50 different languages may be required by local school districts to comply with a resettlement-oriented President Bill Clinton executive order. The most-represented language of refugees entering the U.S. right now is Arabic.
After laying out the facts, Small offered some thoughts on the cause she has adopted out of fears for the country her children will grow up in. “Refugees that are committed to Islam are hostile to Judeo-Christian ethics. They oppose our homeland’s rule of law and the Constitution. They don’t assimilate, and the majority of them want Sharia Law.”
Since 9/11, the vast majority of accepted refugees have been Muslims.
Adding insult to injury is the fact that President Obama’s omnibus spending bill, which managed to get past a Republican-controlled House and Senate, increased the budget for the refugee program by $100 million.
AFA is urging all concerned citizens to get behind the Resettlement Accountability National Security Act of 2015 (Federal-HR 3314).
From the bill, originally sponsored by Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX):
This bill prohibits the admission of refugees into the United States until Congress passes a joint resolution giving the Department of Homeland Security authority to resume admitting refugees.
If voted into law, the bill would require the Government Accounting Office to report on refugees who received benefits from a myriad of public agencies, and, according to Small, cause the “immediate suspension of allowing immigrants into the U.S. until the GOA has examined the financial impact, in terms of both national security and social welfare expenditures, of such resettlements.”
HR 3314 is currently in House subcommittee, with hopes for a hearing in summer 2016.
Listening to Ms. Small spell out the particulars of refugee resettlement in post-millennial America was a heck of a way to spend a Friday evening, but there was an upside: While civic disagreements about tax base expansion, transportation policy, and political allegiances are still very much on the table, AFFP members left the February meeting with a more nuanced perspective about the potential challenges facing Clackamas County.