By Leo Hohmann
The same resettlement agency that is funneling Syrian Muslims into Sen. Bernie Sanders’ state of Vermont and also into Nevada is now delivering them to Sen. Rand Paul’s hometown of Bowling Green, Kentucky.
WND reported last week on the plans to seed the small town of Rutland, Vermont, with 100 Syrian Muslims while another 75 are being sent to Reno, Nevada, and dozens more in Missoula, Montana. WND has previously reported on plans to bring up to 5,000 Syrians to Michigan and hundreds more to Idaho.
The feds have been scouting for new places to bring the Syrians including in northwest Arkansas and in Ithaca, New York.
Now the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, or USCRI – the same volunteer agency that is working in Rutland and Reno – has called a surprise meeting for 5 p.m. Friday to announce plans to bring 40 Syrians to Bowling Green, Ky., in October.
“That’s very little notice for a public meeting to be held on a Friday evening,” said Ann Corcoran, who follows the refugee movement at Refugee Resettlement Watch.
City goes from no Muslims to 10% Muslim in 15 years
Bowling Green is not new to Muslim refugees. The city has been transformed over the past decade from a typical Middle America town that had no Muslims to one that now has more than 7,000 who account for at least 10 percent of the city’s population. It had no mosques 15 years ago and now has several including a large Islamic Center. The Islamic refugees have come from 23 countries, mostly from Bosnia, Russia, Burma, Iraq and now Syria.
“They’ve had the same federal contractor, USCRI, in Bowling Green for a long time,” Corcoran added. “We have a large archive on Bowling Green because they have had many problems there over the years with Iraqi refugees. Now Syrian Muslims will join the Iraqi Muslims in Rand Paul-land.”
Paul’s office told WND he is not in favor of the Syrian refugee dumps in Kentucky or anywhere else under the current vetting process being used by President Obama.
“Senator Paul believes we must pass the SECURE Act,” said Sergio Gor, the senator’s press secretary. “This legislation would suspend visa issuance for countries with a high risk of terrorism and impose a waiting period for background checks on visa issuance from other countries until the American people can be assured terrorists cannot enter the country through our immigration and visa system.”
Paul was much more outspoken against refugee resettlement three years ago, before he contemplated a run for president.
Paul softens his stance
In a June 2013 article in the Huffington Post, the senator said the U.S. should be skeptical of accepting refugees, from the Mideast in particular, because they take welfare and could plan attacks on American soil.
“We have had refugees attack us here. Ninety-five (percent) of our 70,000 Iraqi refugees are on food stamps, majority are in government housing, 46 percent are unemployed,” he said. “It’s one thing to have a big heart and invite people to our country, and if you do it in a small fashion, the churches and the people take care of them; that’s one thing. But like in my town in particular, they bring ’em in and there is someone whose job and expertise is to sign them up for welfare as soon as they get here.”
Since he decided to run for president, he has been much more guarded in the substance and tone of his comments about refugees.
It was just last year that Americans learned a terrorist, Tashfeen Malik, had entered the U.S. from Saudi Arabia not as a refugee but on a fiancée visa. She, along with her husband, Syed Farook, killed 14 people at an office Christmas party in San Bernardino. And two of the jihadists who pulled off the bloody attack on Paris that killed 130 people in November 2015 had entered Europe as “refugees” carrying Syrian passports.
Head of resettlement agency paid salary of $289,192
The Syrians are being brought to Bowling Green by USCRI, a nonprofit headed by Lavinia Limon, the former head of the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement under Bill Clinton. Limon made the transition from government bureaucrat to government contractor at USCRI, where she now earns an annual salary of $289,192, according to USCRI’s 2013 IRS form 990. She also managed to get a relative, Peter Limon, a plum job at the nonprofit, which pays him $139,869.
USCRI, like the other eight volunteer agencies, gets paid nearly $2,000 in federal grant money for every refugee it brings to America.
Bowling Green has a troublesome history with Muslim refugees. Two Iraqi nationals who were resettled as refugees in the city in 2009 were caught in 2011 sending military supplies and other material support to al-Qaida in Iraq. They were eventually convicted and are serving long prison terms.
President Obama is in the midst of a “surge” in Syrian refugee resettlement, seeking to fulfill his promise to the United Nations that he will admit 10,000 Syrians into the U.S. by the end of the current fiscal year on Sept. 30. To reach that goal, he will need to bring in an average of 358 Syrians per week.
And the pipeline from Syria to the U.S. will continue even into the next fiscal year, officials with the State Department have said.
More than 97 percent of the Syrians resettled in the U.S. since the start of the Syrian civil war have been Sunni Muslim. Only 1 percent have been Christian, and of the 499 Syrians who have entered the U.S. since the “surge” began last month, not a single one has been Christian.
Christians are the most persecuted of all religious groups in Syria, hunted down and killed by the Islamic State, al-Nusra Front and other Sunni groups, but the administration has shown zero interest in offering them a safe haven in the United States.
Trump blasts Hillary on refugee stance
Hillary Clinton has promised to go even further with the resettlement of Syrian Muslim refugees selected by the United Nations.
Clinton wants to increase Syrian refugees from 10,000 to 65,000, an increase of over 500 percent. Donald Trump blasted her earlier this week saying she could not claim to care about women and women’s rights while advocating for a radical increase in Syrian immigration. Most Muslims coming from Syria are Shariah-compliant, meaning their women wear the veil in public and their husbands are allowed to beat them for disobedience in accordance with the teachings of Muhammad in the Quran (see Sura 4:34).
The Bowling Green International Center plans to help resettle refugees as a subcontractor working under USCRI. They will initially bring a group of 40 from Syria in October, according to the Bowling Green Daily News.
“A plan to accept Syrian refugees in Bowling Green is raising concerns,” the newspaper reported. “In response, the organizations involved have scheduled a town hall to address any questions.”
Bowling Green residents will be told vetting is airtight
International Center Director Albert Mbanfu told the local newspaper he hopes to address concerns about the screening process and explain how these refugees come to the United States.
“My objective is that people will leave this town hall with a sound knowledge on how refugee resettlement works,” he said.
Mbanfu said the federal government would never put the country at risk of potential terrorist infiltrators.
City Commissioner Melinda Hill is the only elected leader who has voiced concerns, calling the resettlement risky.
“This is not against the people,” Hill said. “Our federal government has not put in place a good vetting process.”
Mayor Bruce Wilkerson and City Commissioner Joe Denning declined to comment, citing “unfamiliarity with the topic,” the Daily News reported.
Another city commissioner, Sue Parrigin, said she sees refugees as a way for employers to fill jobs as the baby boomers grow old and exit the workforce, leaving a dearth of workers in the younger generations that have had smaller families. This is the exact same argument that European governments have given as to why they have imported so many Muslim migrants over the decades.
“This is for the community to come out,” Parrigin said. “The community deserves to come out and be heard.”
Of course, members of the community will be allowed to air their concerns, but none of their concerns will be addressed. As the government has shown in other cities, like Missoula and Rutland, these town-hall meetings are for show only. President Obama has said he will continue importing Sunni Muslims from the jihadist hotbed of Syria regardless of whether state or local leaders oppose him on the issue.
Town-hall meetings were also held in Spartanburg, South Carolina, in Twin Falls, Idaho, and in Helena, Montana, and scores of other cities. In all of these places where citizens voiced concerns, the numbers were initially downplayed only to be adjusted upward later.
For example, volunteer agency World Relief told residents of Spartanburg they would get less than 60 refugees and most of them would be from Africa, not Syria. Now, that story has changed and the Spartanburg area has been targeted for 120 refugees, most of whom will be from Syria.
But citizens can and should attend such meetings and demand as much information as possible, says Corcoran. They should also demand to see the R&P Abstract prepared by the federal contractor agency.
Despite what Mbanfu says, WND has reported numerous times that the government has imported terrorists, through the refugee program and other immigration programs, and Mbanfu need not look past his own hometown for proof. “Lax background checks were to blame” for the two Iraqi refugee terrorists infiltrating Kentucky in 2009, ABC News reported.
But these are the kind of outright lies and omissions the resettlement agencies tell concerned citizens at their town-hall meetings.
If the U.S. had trouble vetting refugees from Iraq, where it had occupied the country and had access to all law enforcement and intelligence records, how can it vet people claiming to be fleeing Syria?
FBI Director James Comey admitted last year before Congress that vetting Syrians is impossible. The president and his State Department have focused instead on the humanitarian aspect of helping widows and orphans.
But concerns include more than just terrorism. There’s also the issue of cost. Refugees, unlike most other immigrants, qualify for a full slate of welfare benefits on day one of their arrival. Those age 65 and over immediately receive Social Security benefits and 91 percent of refugees from the Middle East receive food stamps, according to the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement.
Congress approved Obama’s $1.1 trillion omnibus spending package in December, and it fully funded the president’s expanded refugee program, which will spend about $1.2 billion to resettle 85,000 foreign refugees from all countries in fiscal 2016. Another 100,000 are slated for arrival in 2017. That figure — $1.2 billion — does not include the cost of welfare benefits nor does it include the cost of educating refugee children.