By Leo Hohmann
Another big battle is brewing over Syrian “refugees” sweeping into small-town America.
Rural folks in Montana are pushing back against plans by urban elites to plant hundreds of Muslims from the Third World into Helena and Missoula. They were to hold a protest rally at 10 a.m. Monday in front of the county courthouse in Missoula. And if the pattern holds of similar rallies in Twin Falls, Idaho, and Fargo, North Dakota, a contingent of pro-refugee people will show up to counter protest.
Of all the 50 states, there are only two that have not received their “share” of the nearly 1 million Muslim refugees that have been infused into more than 180 U.S. cities and towns over the past 35 years, compliments of the U.S. State Department and the United Nations.
Those states are Wyoming and Montana.
Wyoming has received only five refugees from the federal resettlement program since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and is currently not participating in the program (although Gov. Matt Mead has indicated he’d like to restart the program). Montana has only received 61 refugees since 9/11 and none since 2008.
Compare that to neighboring Idaho, which has received 10,730 refugees over the same period, according to the federal refugee database. WND reported last week that Chobani’s billionaire Muslim CEO has been working with the federal government to import refugees to work in his massive yogurt plant in Twin Falls.
That has caused tensions as far out as Sand Point, in northern Idaho, where mayor Shelby Rognstad tried to lay out the welcome mat for Syrian refugees but was forced to retract his proposal after extreme blowback from the community, the Boise Weekly reported.
Another neighboring state, North Dakota, has been on the receiving end of 4,912 U.N. refugees since 9/11, according to the federal refugee database. Colorado has absorbed 18,122 refugees, Minnesota 37,838, Washington state 36,395, and Nebraska 9,161.
As WND has reported, Obama’s plan to import Syrian and other Muslim refugees has met spirited resistance in South Carolina, Idaho, Minnesota, North Dakota and Michigan. Residents in many areas of these states have let it be known they are not on board with the progressive vision of a multicultural America. They argue, with mounting evidence, that such policies in Europe have led to rampant crime, mass rapes and terrorism.
And the multicultural vision is no longer limited to gateway cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles or Miami.
Small cities like Boise, Idaho; Fargo, North Dakota; Wichita, Kansas – and now Helena and Missoula, Montana – are vying for a bigger slice of the refugee pie.
Here in “Big Sky Country” local politicians in Missoula, working with pro-immigrant NGOs, are inviting the federal government to begin sending Syrians, comparing them to the Hmong refugees who fled Vietnam’s communists in the late 1970s. They have not been deterred by the fact that 98 percent of Syrian refugees are Sunni Muslims, the vast majority of whom FBI Director James Comey admits are impossible to vet for ties to terrorism.
Despite Comey’s warnings, the Missoula Board of County Commissioners sent a letter on Jan. 13 to the U.S. State Department requesting Syrian refuges. “We look forward to seeing approximately 100 refugees per year resettled in Missoula,” the letter states.
“Missoula is an ideal city for resettling refugees,” the letter continues. “Our community enjoys good schools, incredible natural beauty, and a low unemployment rate, among other factors.”
A group of Montanans has mobilized against the plan. They are trying to educate their state and local representatives about how the refugee resettlement program actually works, including the high welfare usage of refugees, the costs of educating children who speak zero English and the risks to national security.
Wild-eyed lefties in the Wild West
Monday’s protest rally is not just aimed at Democrats. Citizen activists described the resistance put up by Republicans in the state Legislature as tepid at best.
“They’ve done little to help us and have basically given lip-service,” said Paul Nachman, a Bozeman activist who described Missoula as a town dominated by progressive politics, due largely to the influence of the University of Montana.
“It’s a wildly left-wing town, known around here as the Berkeley of Montana,” he said.
Nachman says the commissioners Jan. 13 letter was astonishingly naïve.
Under the resettlement program, as governed by the Refugee Act of 1980 (authored by former Sens. Teddy Kennedy and Joe Biden), local elected leaders are not afforded any control over the number of refugees the federal government sends into their communities. The feds must “consult” with state and local leaders but are not required to abide by any suggested limits on the number of refugee arrivals. Nor is the federal government bound to restrict refugees coming from any particular country, such as Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Afghanistan or any other jihadist-infested country.
The flow of refugees could begin with 10 Christians from Myanmar, for instance, but quickly evolve into hundreds of Muslims from Syria or Somalia. The Obama administration claims it has carte blanche authority over how many refugees will arrive in any given town and where they will come from.
Paul Ryan’s capitulation
Obama plans to send at least 10,000 Syrians to dozens of U.S. cities and towns this year and thousands more in 2017. The program as a whole will deliver 85,000 refugees to U.S. cities in 2016 and 100,000 in 2017, all completely funded by Speaker Paul Ryan’s Congress.
Once the controversy erupted last fall over Syrian refugees, Secretary of State John Kerry’s top refugee lieutenant, Anne Richard, has repeatedly said states have “no authority” to stop the flow of refugees.
Yet, the Jan. 13 letter shows a stunning lack of knowledge on the part of the Missoula County commissioners, said Nachman, who lives in Bozeman. The commissioners seem to believe they can simply put their order in for a specific number of refugees.
“They are practically begging” for 100 refugees per year, says Nachman, a 67-year-old retired physicist. He came to Montana from Southern California in 2005 where he was involved in that state’s pitched battles over illegal immigration.
As in many small towns and rural areas, debates on controversial issues in Montana often play out on the op-ed pages of local newspapers and on talk radio shows.
Nachman has written several letters to the editor to local papers, countering what he says has been dishonest propaganda put out by representatives of pro-refugee agencies that stand to make a lot of money off of the resettlement of Syrians in Montana. One group, Soft Landing Montana, is affiliated with the International Rescue Committee or IRC, which is one of nine major contractors the U.S. government pays to resettle refugees. It wants to bring Syrians to Missoula.
Another group, WorldMontana, is less advanced in it’s plans to seed Helena with Muslim refugees. It has held three meetings at the Plymouth Congregational Church to plan a “potential refugee resettlement,” according to the WorldMontana website.
Stephen Maly, president of WorldMontana, said “fear is our nemesis,” according to a report in the Great Falls Tribune.
Maly said the discussion of bringing Syrians into Helena has become “very noisy and loud.”
He said some city officials have spoken against the idea, but he believes state officials are prepared to support the resettlements in due time.
The Jan. 21 meeting in Helena was attended by representatives from Catholic Social Services, the Helena Ministerial Association and included input from refugee bureaucrats in neighboring Idaho along with Boise Mayor David Bieter. The agenda also included a presentation by a “social justice” grant-maker from Minnesota.
Maly said he has met with federal officials to discuss refugee resettlement in Helena and was told to “go slow, be transparent and inclusive, try to avoid the snares of partisanship and politicization” and to be patient and persistent, the Tribune reported.
But the “inclusiveness” only extends to those who are willing to jump on board with the program, say opponents.
Caroline Solomon lives in the city of Big Fork in Flathead County, which is tucked away in the northwest corner of Montana. She said rural Montanans are getting stirred up and frustrated by the bare-knuckle approach of the refugee-resettlement groups.
Montana vs. Belgium
Solomon is a member of the local chapter of ACT For America, an organization that educates the public about the dangers of creeping Shariah law. She is originally from Belgium and lived near a section of Brussels that is now infested with jihadists, several of whom were recruited by ISIS to take part in the Nov. 13 Paris terror attacks.
She and her husband retired to Kalispell, Montana, in 1993 and quickly fell in love with the community.
“We have had 23 years here, and I tell you I cannot describe the way the people are here,” she said. “You get airlifted to Spokane with a medical problem, and before you know it people are in their cars driving to visit you. I could not understand that as a European. It’s like one big family. Everybody is nice. When you go shop, everybody talks to everybody. When I go back to the big city, I think I must look like a country bumpkin because I have a smile on my face. That’s why people come here.”
Contrast that with the no-go zones in Europe, or the growing enclaves in Minneapolis, Minnesota, or Dearborn, Michigan, and you can see why Solomon and others aren’t warming up to the changes proposed by liberals in Missoula.
“This subject (of refugees) is now a very hot topic here,” she said. “We had over 100 people at our last meeting, and the one in December we had over 300.
“They all say ‘not in Montana.’ Well it’s time to wake up because they are coming to Montana,” Solomon said. “They are asking the government to send them. We are about 100 miles north of Missoula, but a lot of us will hopefully be going to that rally Monday.”
‘Assimilation is the problem’
She stressed that she is not anti-immigrant.
“I am an immigrant. So anybody saying I’m against that is absolutely wrong. There are people who need help in a serious way. That’s what this country is all about. What makes me mad and sad is they want to bring people in without knowing who they are or what they are involved with,” Solomon said. “Our own FBI says they can’t vet them. We know ISIS is using this loophole to get people into our country. We have seen it from the attacks on Europe and San Bernardino.”
Assimilation is the problem, she said. Neither Europe nor America is demanding that its refugees from the Middle East assimilate. And 91 percent of refugees from the Middle East were receiving food stamps between 2008 and 2013, according to data from the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement, while 73 percent were on Medicaid and 68 percent were receiving cash welfare assistance.
“I have a problem with people who come here as immigrants or refugees and do not assimilate. They do not want to assimilate. I would have never thought that this little part of Brussels where we used to shop would be a place where terrorists hide in a no-go zone. The younger generation of Muslims, they do not want to assimilate, and I think there are forces pushing these young people (into jihad).”
Solomon said the county commissioners in Missoula are extremely uneducated about the refugee issue.
“That letter reads like an advertisement for tourists to come to Montana,” she said. “They say how wonderful the scenery is. What’s so dangerous is, I think that’s what they believe. You know, the kumbaya crowd, and that’s why we are doing what we are doing and trying to educate them and show what is really going on.”
Ad hominem attacks
While a handful of state legislators and city officials have been receptive and sympathetic to residents’ concerns, the reaction is often hostile from the community organizers, she said.
“They call us all kinds of names, like Islamophobes, and I think CAIR is behind it,” she said, referring to the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “I think political correctness will destroy us. The Muslim Brotherhood, they said it in their Explanatory Memorandum (seized by the FBI as evidence in 2004 from a house in Virginia), that they will destroy us from within using immigration and political correctness as a weapon, and they are using it very aggressively at this time.”
A WND report from May 2015 exposed the strategy of the refugee-resettlement industry to deride and intimidate any politician or activist who opposes its agenda to change the demographics of a town.
The report, titled “Resettlement at Risk: Meeting Emerging Challenges to Refugee Resettlement in Local Communities,” was authored by one of the nine federal contractors responsible for sending thousands of refugees to the states in return for lucrative taxpayer grants and fees. It calls for “new tools to fight back against a determined legislator or governor who has decided to challenge resettlement for political or other reasons.”
Montana governor falls in line
The pro-refugee organizers in Montana have an ally in Democrat Gov. Steve Bullock, who is from Missoula and has been a vocal advocate of refugees including those from high-risk countries like Syria.
fter the Nov. 13 attack on Paris in which 130 people were killed by eight ISIS terrorists, including two who are believed to have entered Europe through the ranks of Syrian “refugees,” more than two-dozen governors sent letters to the Obama administration requesting, to no avail, that the flow of refugees into their states be stopped.
But not Bullock. On Nov. 16, he issued a statement that Montana would remain open for business as usual with regard to refugees.
Solomon said she doesn’t buy President Obama’s theory that poverty is the main cause of violent extremism, or that providing jobs to disillusioned Muslims will solve the problem of global jihad.
“It’s in their book (the Quran) that they are not refugees they are migrants. They are on the hijra (migration), and Muhammad was the first one to migrate, going from Mecca to Medina and that is what’s happening, and all the pieces are falling into place,” she said. “A lot of them are not poor refugees but migrants. The migration is happening and that is what I am afraid of. They say they want 100 per year in Missoula, and the families will come and they will seed them. The first little seed is going to be planted in Missoula but then the families will come. What’s a family for them? They have multiple wives and many children.”
Montana already has at least one mosque, near Montana State University in Bozeman, and several Islamic centers.
“Missoula has an Islamic Center and a very active MSA (Muslim Student Association) chapter at University of Montana,” Solomon said.
The MSA was exposed as a front group for the Muslim Brotherhood in court documents filed during the Holy Land Foundation terror-financing trial in 2007. It has hundreds of chapters on college campuses across the U.S. and is notorious for stirring up anti-Israel sentiment and boycotts among college students.
Solomon said her ACT For America chapter met with Montana’s congressional delegation in Washington, D.C., last summer, and also with Texas Rep. Brian Babin, who is sponsoring House Bill 3314, which would halt all refugee resettlement until a full audit of the program can be conducted. So far House Speaker Paul Ryan has refused to promote Babins’ bill even though it has more than 80 co-sponsors.
Nachman, who fought many immigration battles in Southern California, said he too loves Montana.
But the state has many communities that aren’t prepared for these battles and can be hoodwinked by clever pro-immigration activists.
“You have a lot of naïve communities,” he said. “When I came in 2005, Montana reminded me of the Midwest in the 1950s. It reminded me of that, lost in time, sort of throw-back community, but the problems of big cities are bound to come here if we don’t fight them off.”