WND, by Leo Hohmann, May 4, 2015:
Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., has received a response to his letter demanding answers from Secretary of State John Kerry about the planned resettlement of dozens of foreign refugees in his state.
But the answers failed to shed much light on the secrecy that surrounds the refugee program. The process by which cities and towns across the U.S. are selected to receive displaced persons from United Nations refugee camps remains largely a mystery.
As Gowdy discovered, the city of Spartanburg, South Carolina, was approved for the infusion of 60 refugees, mostly from Syria and Africa, by its own state government headed by Republican Gov. Nikki Haley.
And if the program plays out in Spartanburg as it has in communities in Minnesota, California, Texas, Ohio, Illinois, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida and other states, then the 60 refugees will blossom into hundreds and thousands in future years. Minnesota, for example, is now receiving more than 2,000 Muslim refugees, mostly from Somalia, every year. Texas receives around 7,000 per year, and California more than 6,000, directly from the Third World.
Here are the top 10 states for refugee resettlement based on 2014 figures from the State Department website:
New York, 4,079
The United Nations and nine private resettlement agencies are pressuring the United States to accept at least 65,000 refugees from Syria by the end of President Obama’s term in office.
Of the 815 Syrian refugees resettled in the U.S. so far, 749, or 92 percent, have been Muslim, according to State Department data.
Only 43 Syrians allowed into the U.S. have been Christians, even though the turmoil in Iraq and Syria has driven thousands of Christians from their homes under threat of death by ISIS.
Some local residents are upset and asking questions about not only the security risks associated with the Muslim refugees but the numbers of refugees that will eventually end up in Spartanburg and how much it will cost to absorb them into schools, housing and health-care facilities.
Almost all refugees coming into the U.S. from war-torn countries are hand-selected by the United Nations.
The plan to send refugees from Syria and Africa to Spartanburg first surfaced in March when a story appeared in a local newspaper, which didn’t provide answers to any of the hard questions.
Gowdy pressed Kerry’s State Department for more information in an April 13 letter.
Kerry’s response on May 1 indicated the process of picking Spartanburg as the country’s newest refugee haven actually began back in April 2013, when World Relief, one of nine private agencies that contract with the government to provide resettlement services, was contacted by local faith groups in Spartanburg. Gowdy’s own office was notified of the plans in August 2014.
Gowdy was not happy with Kerry’s response and has fired off another letter on May 4 to the secretary of state.
“To begin, it is important to clarify and correct the timeline of events for the proposal. In your response you stated there were two community meetings, one in August 2014 and one in January 2015,” Gowdy wrote to Kerry. “You also stated the proposal was submitted in July 2014 and approved in November 2014. Is this correct? If so, does this mean the resettlement agency had only one community meeting, which occurred after the proposal was submitted and before the State Department’s approval?”
And that one community meeting included no invitations to media or notices to the public, WND has learned.
Gowdy said he sent his initial letter to the State Department on April 13 because he could not answer questions brought to him by constituents regarding plans for a refugee resettlement in Spartanburg.
“We have provided State’s response so the public can read it. But some of the answers are inadequate and fail to provide specificity on who was consulted at the city and county level, within the public school system, and law enforcement, and if they provided input,” Gowdy said in a statement.
Gowdy is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on immigration and border security, which has oversight responsibility for the refugee program.
He sent a staff member, Josh Dix, to the secret meeting in August but Dix did not raise any concerns about the resettlement, according to Kerry’s response to Gowdy’s letter.
Gowdy’s press secretary denied WND’s request for an interview with the congressman Monday and would not answer any questions.
Baptists working to resettle refugees in S.C.
World Relief, a nonprofit evangelical organization that works to resettle refugees nationwide, opened an office earlier this year in Spartanburg.
A group of 40 churches and other faith-based organizations has signed on to help World Relief resettle the refugees, according to Kerry’s letter to Gowdy. One of the lead agencies working with World Relief is the Spartanburg County Baptist Network.
But the plan to place refugees in Spartanburg has been brewing for more than a year, long before any local residents caught wind of it. Kerry’s letter provides a window into how a small group of people in the federal government, local church groups, a federal contractor and a state refugee coordinator conspire to plant “seedlings” of refugees into communities across the U.S.
These refugees are seen by the White House and its network of pro-immigration and refugee partners – groups like National Council for La Raza, Welcoming America and the National Partnership for New Americans – as potential “new Americans.” The refugees are placed on a fast track to citizenship and full voting rights.
The White House is also pushing to have the thousands of Central Americans who crossed the southern border last year afforded asylum status, which qualifies them for various welfare benefits and a direct track toward citizenship.
So while Spartanburg residents found out about the plan for their town in March and April, others in key positions have known about it for more than a year. No public hearings have been held before the city council or local school board. Gowdy is still trying to find out exactly who in Spartanburg was made privy to the plans and who provided input.
“The initial interest in resettling refugees in Spartanburg emerged in April 2013 when World Relief was approached by Spartanburg County Baptist Network,” Kerry’s letter states. “The group, along with 25 other individuals and church organizations, expressed their support for a World Relief resettlement program in their city.”
Kerry said the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration requires that the national resettlement agency, in this case World Relief, “thoroughly assess the local resettlement capacity and environment of any new proposed resettlement sites before determining whether to proceed with resettling refugees in that location. World Relief did conduct a full assessment of the community following its U.S. Site Selection Protocol.”
As for Gowdy’s knowledge, he should have been briefed on the program last summer by a staffer who attended a meeting convened by World Relief in August. Whether that happened is not known because Gowdy’s staff would not answer questions from WND. But the staffer Gowdy had present at the meeting in August did not raise any concerns about the program during the meeting, according to Kerry’s letter.
“Two community meetings (August 2014 and January 2015) were convened to discuss refugee resettlement in the area,” Kerry wrote to Gowdy. “The August meeting, convened by World Relief, was attended by 54 members of the community including Josh Dix from your office, members of local churches, the Immigration Forum, and the Convention and Visitors Bureau for Spartanburg. Mr. Dix did not offer any concerns during the meeting or in follow-up afterward.”
The National Immigration Forum, which was present at the meeting, receives funding from billionaire George Soros. It is the driving force behind the so-called “Evangelical Immigration Table,” or EIT. Breitbart called it “a front group for players on the institutional left including billionaire George Soros and the Ford Foundation.”
The Immigration Forum and EIT were involved in an advertising campaign promoting the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill in 2013, a bill seen by many right-leaning lawmakers as “amnesty.” One of the Gang of Eight members was Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
Kerry said in his response to Gowdy that Graham was also invited to attend the August meeting on refugees but no one from his staff showed up.
The South Carolina state refugee coordinator, who works for Gov. Nikki Haley, gave her approval in November for the resettlement program to move forward.
Christina Jeffrey, a political science instructor at Wofford College in Spartanburg and former historian for the U.S. House of Representatives, said Kerry’s response shows that the refugee program is ingrained not only in the federal bureaucracy but in state governments as well.
“It’s another grant program; it isn’t just the feds cramming this down our throats. It’s government corruption at all levels,” she said, “with a lot of money at stake flowing to these contractors.”
World Relief, as the main contractor in Spartanburg, will be awarded a grant from the State Department of $1,975 for every refugee it resettles. Federal rules require $1,125 of that to be used in providing services directly to the refugee such as cash stipends, rents for housing or other material needs during the first 30 to 90 days of the refugee’s arrival. The remaining $850 may be used for staffing and administrative costs.
Nearly 70 percent of World Relief’s budget is covered by government grants. Others among the nine contractors, such as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Lutheran Migration Services, have upward of 90 percent of their refugee work covered by government grants.
Seeking a moratorium on refugees
Jeffrey said she’s happy that Gowdy has taken an interest in the program, but she believes his responsibility goes beyond fact finding.
“I can do my own information gathering. I’m not looking to Trey Gowdy for that. I’m looking for him to do his job and provide oversight on whether this is a good use of taxpayers’ money,” Jeffrey told WND. “Rather than just gathering information on the Spartanburg resettlement, how about let’s put the whole program on hold until Congress has a chance to investigate it?”
Jeffrey and others have also voiced concerns about national security. Dozens of people from Muslim countries have come to America as refugees only to be charged with providing material support to foreign terrorist organizations, according to FBI reports. At least another 48 cases have been confirmed of Muslim immigrants leaving the U.S. to fight for ISIS in Syria and al-Shabab in Somalia. The Boston Marathon bombers were asylum seekers from Chechnya.
The refugee program has flown under the radar for more than 30 years, but controversy flared in February when a top FBI counter-terrorism official, Michael Steinbach, testified before the House Homeland Security committee and said the U.S. has no way to vet the Syrian refugees for possible connections to ISIS and other terrorist organizations. As WND reported, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, sent a letter to the White House Jan. 28 citing “serious national security concerns” about the Syrian refugee program and imploring Obama to not let it become a “back door for jihadists.”