The U.S. State Department, working with the United Nations, accepts about 70,000 foreign refugees for permanent resettlement in the United States each year, distributing them to more than 190 cities and towns across America.
By Leo Hohmann
WND has discovered what amounts to the government playbook for countering the rising “backlash” against the secret planting of Muslim refugees into cities and towns across America.
The 2013 report anticipated two years ago that resistance would increase to the seeding of communities with Muslim refugees if counter measures were not undertaken.
The report was prophetic.
Last year, WND reported how the mayor of Athens, Georgia, requested the federal government not send any refugees to her town until she could get a handle on the costs. Earlier this year, another high-profile case of pushback emerged in Spartanburg, South Carolina, in Rep. Trey Gowdy’s district, a story WND first reported in April.
In Wyoming, the only state that does not have a refugee resettlement agreement with the U.S. State Department, Gov. Matt Mead was “exploring” whether he should start such a program. But after stories in the local media and on WND, Mead dropped the plan.
Now, WND has learned the government and its contractors have a stock plan on how to deal with what they call “backlash” to refugee resettlement in American cities.
Titled “Resettlement at Risk: Meeting Emerging Challenges to Refugee Resettlement in Local Communities,” the report by one of the federal government’s top resettlement contractors admits that communities “across the country” are pushing back against the refugee program, especially when it involves the infusion of Muslims into their city or town.
In the wake of the report, the Obama administration has handed out millions of dollars in grants to organizations like Welcoming America, which works to “educate” elected officials and the public in “receiving communities” before refugees arrive. Welcoming America was started in 2010 with seed money from George Soros’s Open Society Institute.
The U.S. State Department, working with the United Nations, accepts about 70,000 foreign refugees for permanent resettlement in the United States each year, distributing them to more than 190 cities and towns across America. (See list of 190 office locations in every state)
Dealing with uncooperative elected leaders
The report lays out a strategy for dealing with uncooperative politicians who insist on representing the concerns of their constituents as opposed to the interests of the refugee industry.
The report calls for “new tools to fight back against a determined legislator or governor who has decided to challenge resettlement for political or other reasons.”
David Lubell of Welcoming America works closely with the White House to soften up the soil in cities targeted to receive an influx refugees.
One of those tools is Obama-supporter David Lubell’s Welcoming America. The group is dispatched to areas where native-born Americans are not sufficiently “welcoming” and runs advertising campaigns on TV, radio and billboards touting the economic contributions of refugees and other “new Americans.”
The 2013 report, authored by the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and financed by a wealthy New York family foundation, cites three examples of push back – in Georgia, Tennessee and New Hampshire.
Tamping down an uprising in Georgia
In Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal in 2011 ordered a hold on federal money flowing to refugee resettlement contractors until a review of the program could be completed.
A group of residents and at least one elected official in the city of Clarkston complained that the city was being overwhelmed by refugees and the governor wanted to investigate.
“Although the governor’s office offered no reason for the review, it is believed that an elected official from Clarkston, a small city east of Atlanta, complained to the governor on behalf of a constituent,” the report states. “The official, who in 2003 had introduced legislation to require resettlement agencies to notify local government officials if 10 or more refugees would be resettled in a community at one time, told the governor’s office that Clarkston was at ‘capacity.’”
That prompted an army of refugee advocates and lobbyists to leap into action.
“Facing the prospect of staff layoffs and the disruption of critical services for refugees, the network of agencies providing services to refugees created an informal coalition to advocate for the release of the federal funds,” the report says. “The coalition worked to gather information and educate elected officials, influential supporters of the governor, as well as police chiefs and school officials, about the economic benefits of refugee resettlement in Georgia.”
The coalition got U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., along with the Clarkston mayor, to write a letter to the governor in support of refugee resettlement.
In December 2011 Deal relented and released federal funds for the resettlements to continue in Georgia.
The resettlement contractor did, however, agree to decrease the number of refugees being sent to Georgia the following year by 20 percent.
Muslim refugees spark concerns about terrorism
The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society is one of nine government contractors who do the resettlement work in more than 190 cities and towns across the U.S. These contractors subcontract with more than 350 smaller agencies and church groups to get the refugees settled into subsidized housing, get their children enrolled in school and families signed up for Medicaid. Among the other nine major contractors are the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Church World Services, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, Episcopal Migration Service, World Relief and the International Rescue Committee. These agencies describe themselves as nonprofit “charitable” organizations but they have the majority of their budgets covered by government grants.
Hebrew Immigrant Aid’s 30-page report says the danger of push back is exacerbated when Muslims are part of the equation. Americans have been less receptive to Muslim refugees than those coming from a Christian or other religious background.
Hebrew Immigrant Aid cited fear of terrorism as one of the primary concerns that residents have with Muslim refugees settling in their communities.
“…although cases of refugees connected to terrorism have been rare and refugees are among the most highly scrutinized and vetted immigrants in the U.S., anti-immigrant groups have suggested that the program is a gateway for terrorists. The recruitment of young Somalis by terrorist cells and the arrest of two resettled Iraqi refugees in Kentucky on terrorism charges have provided fuel for these allegations,” the report says.
Since the report was written in February 2013, scores more Somali refugees have been arrested for providing material support for overseas Islamic terror groups such as al-Shabab. Still others have left the country to fight for ISIS and al-Shabab.
Just last month six Somalis from Minnesota were arrested for trying repeatedly to fly to Turkey and join ISIS, leading U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger to proclaim, “We have a terror recruitment problem in Minnesota,” WND reported.
Shifting the blame to Americans
But the report blames the backlash not on any failure of the government to properly vet refugees but on “anti-Muslim views” held by native-born Americans. The report also points a finger at refugee watchdog Ann Corcoran, who started the Refugee Resettlement Watch blog in 2007 after she learned that Muslim refugees were arriving in her rural farm community in western Maryland.
Watch Ann Corcoran tell her personal story of how she got interested in the refugee movement and became the nation’s leading watchdog of refugee “contractors” posing as charitable organizations.
“Online forums such as Refugee Resettlement Watch have emerged for individuals critical of the resettlement program to share their concerns. Many of the posts express disdain for the refugee resettlement program, particularly the resettlement of Muslim refugees, along with anti-Muslim views,” the report states.
Corcoran has repeatedly stated that she is not against legitimate refugees but she does want the program to be halted until it can be “cleaned up.” She believes it is plagued by secrecy and lack of accountability and that public hearings should be held prior to any city being chosen as a “receiving community.” She says a complete impact study should be conducted and shared with local residents to remove the mystery that surrounds the program.
Countering the ‘resistance’
Besides Georgia and Maryland, major statewide resistance has occurred in New Hampshire and Tennessee, according to the report.
“Tennessee, New Hampshire, and Georgia are the only states that have recently attempted to stop refugee resettlement at the legislative or executive level,” the report states. “Resistance to resettlement has emerged in other communities across the country as well, although those states have not pursued statewide measures to stop resettlement.”
A culture of secrecy
But the report was written before the emergence in March of a grassroots fight in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where World Relief has opened a resettlement office and decided to place 60 refugees from Syria, Congo and other countries over the next year. Once a resettlement office opens in a city, the deliveries of refugees continue year after year, Corcoran said.
Spartanburg residents led by Christina Jeffrey, the former historian of the U.S. House of Representatives, approached their congressman, Gowdy, and started asking questions.
How many were coming, when were they coming, from what countries, and what would the impact be on local services and the economy? Where would the refugees find jobs in a city already plagued by high unemployment and poverty?
Gowdy said he did not know all of the answers, so he fired off a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry asking for details on how cities are selected, who is contacted for input on the local level, and many other pieces of information that are normally kept hidden from local communities.
Kerry responded to Gowdy’s first letter on April 30, but Gowdy said the answers were vague and incomplete so he sent a second letter in early May demanding more precise information.
“I think Spartanburg is the Waterloo, the watershed, where all of the pieces are coming together,” said Corcoran. “Activists there are going to stay in the fight no matter how heated it gets.”
Not allowed to evangelize Muslims
Jason Lee, a local pastor and director of World Relief Spartanburg, spoke at a meeting last Monday of the Spartanburg County Council. One of the arguments he made was that it was good that some of the refugees coming to South Carolina were non-Christians.
“He said one of the advantages of the program is we can spread the gospel,” Jeffrey said. “One of the holes in that argument is that the money is coming from the federal government and it cannot be used to spread the gospel. They have a contract which they must sign obligating them not to evangelize, and if he doesn’t know that, he should know it, because he is the director of World Relief in Spartanburg.”
Corcoran said the resettlement industry compiles an “enemies list” in local communities where resettlements encounter resistance.
“They do research and develop a list of enemies and potential enemies,” she said.
And that’s not all.
“We recently learned that instructions have gone out nationwide to give citizens no information when they call a resettlement agency to ask for the abstract describing plans for their town,” Corcoran said. “It just further enhances their reputation for being secretive.
“I had a lady email me from Connecticut recently who called her local Catholic Charities office to ask for their abstract, and they wrote back and said ‘who are you?’ before they would give her any information. She said she’d like that abstract.”
The “abstract” is the document describing the number of refugees planned for a given city, where they will come from and the expected impact on social services, schools and the job market.
“We’ve recently been given word that citizens who seek these abstracts are being denied those documents and it appears to be a concerted national effort to shut down the flow of information from resettlement agencies to the local concerned citizens,” Corcoran said.
“What you have here are rich foundations joining forces with the government and working against the regular hard-working Americans who just want to find out what is happening in their town,” Corcoran added.
Resistance is also more likely when refugees are sent to a smaller city or town, as opposed to a traditional gateway city like Chicago, L.A., Philadelphia, Boston or New York, according to the report.
And if the city is in the midst of “economic distress,” which many smaller cities are, it is even more likely to push back against the planting of refugees because of the costs associated with integrating refugees into schools, housing, and healthcare services, the report says.
The report says refugees tend to stand out in smaller communities where their “visibility” is accentuated.
Kaplan Fund director has ties to Soros
The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society was granted $35,000 to write the report by the New York City-based J.M. Kaplan Fund, whose migration program is directed by Suzette Brooks-Masters, a former corporate and environmental lawyer.
According to her LinkedIn page, Brooks Masters once worked for Soros’s Open Society as a researcher on the “Forced Migrations Project.”
She was mentioned as a “friend” by immigration activists at a Washington press conference last month in which Obama rolled out his plan to create more “welcoming communities” for new immigrants and refugees. The newly formed White House Task Force on New Americans is making a concerted national effort to turn the immigrants into “new Americans” by removing barriers to citizenship.
Brooks Masters says on her LinkedIn page that she is “launching the Receiving Communities Initiative with Welcoming America, and the creation of the Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education based at Westchester Community College and IMPRINT (a national collaboration to foster immigrant professional integration in the US workforce).”
She says she is also working to finance the integration of unaccompanied alien children from Central America into U.S. communities.
“I am also funding work on the local reception of unaccompanied minors and trying to improve the integration outcomes for refugees,” she said on her site.
Use locals to fight resistance
In its recommendations, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid report says the work of countering backlash should be coordinated at the national level while using local people at the grassroots level to debunk and counter the claims of those in the resistance.
The report also calls for Congress to increase funding of the refugee program, which currently costs taxpayers nearly $1.5 billion per year, not including the social welfare benefits handed out to refugees. Unlike most other categories of immigrants, refugees immediately qualify for food stamps, public housing, Medicaid, Social Security disability and TANF, a monthly cash assistance program for poor families with children.
The resettlement agencies claim that most refugees are “self-sufficient” within three to six months. But, Corcoran says, that does not mean they are earning their own living and paying their own way.
“That only means that they have been set up on government welfare and the resettlement agencies are no longer helping them,” she said.
Senators pushing for ‘dramatically more’ Syrian refugees
Last week WND reported that 14 Democratic senators wrote a letter to Obama requesting that he “dramatically increase” the number of refugees allowed into the country from Syria. That country’s 5-year-old civil war has produced more than 3.5 million refugees and the senators said the U.S. should grant the request of the main lobbying arm of the nine refugee contractors, Refugee Council USA, and accept 65,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2016. As for the 843 Syrians allowed to resettle in the U.S. since the civil war started, 92 percent have been Muslim. Less than 7 percent have been Christian.
WND also reported last week that Angela Davis, the late-1960s radical and former leader of the Communist Party USA who went on to lead the feminist studies program at the University of California at Santa Barbara, appeared at a rally in Berlin, Germany, May 14-15, in which she said “the refugee movement is the movement of the 21st century” for radical community organizers.
Read the entire Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society report on countering “backlash.” The report ends with six recommendations on how to counter backlash, among them being:
- Get organized. Launch a funded, productive, organized initiative, coordinated nationally but strongly rooted in local action to raise awareness about the benefits of resettlement and “proactivity.”
- Develop a rapid-response team plan that can respond to backlash quickly in communities facing or at risk of facing rising anti-refugee sentiment.
- Conduct research on local anti-refugee leaders. The national refugee agencies should partner with groups such as the Center for New Community and the Southern Poverty Law Center to learn more about individuals and groups leading local efforts to resist resettlement, to determine if they belong to organized anti-immigrant or anti-Muslim organizations or networks.
- Monitor state legislatures for anti-refugee bills and lobby accordingly.
- The federal government should create national benchmarks for refugee integration and measure progress toward success.