Idaho is set to become one of multiple receiving states for the relocation of Islamic and other refugees as part of the State Department’s U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP).
Southern Idaho’s TImes-News reports that the College of Southern Idaho’s Refugee Center will be taking in up to 300 refugees from around the world starting in October. They anticipate most will be from Syria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Syrian Civil War has resulted in the deaths of 220,000 people and driven some 9 million of the prewar population of 23 million from their homes. Of those, more than 3.8 million have fled to neighboring countries like Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey.
“U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Anne Richard said during a recent visit to Lebanon that between 1,000 and 2,000 Syrian refugees will be brought to the U.S. by the end of September and several thousand more in 2016,” according to the Times-News.
Southern Idaho’s refugee center has already resettled more than 1,000 refugees from Iraq in the state in recent years.
World Net Daily reports one of the main concerns being raised regarding USRAP is how adequately the refugees are being screened. Earlier this year, the House Homeland Security Committee held hearings which addressed, in part, the vetting of refugees.
Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., asked Assistant Director of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division Michael Steinbach what the best process would be for separating legitimate refugees from would-be terrorists. Steinbach responded, “You’re talking about a country that’s a failed state, does not have any infrastructure so to speak. So all the data sets, the police, the intel services, that you would normally go to and seek that information, don’t exist.”
“And that obviously raises a grave concern of being able to do proper background checks on individuals coming into the country?” Katko asked. Steinbach answered, “Yes.”
Spartanburg, S.C., is another location the State Department has chosen for participation in USRAP. While Gov. Nikki Haley, R-S.C., is fully supportive of the program, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who represents the community, wants some questions answered first.
In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry a few weeks ago, Gowdy asked about not only the background checks, but also some other very practical matters that all regions chosen to participate in USRAP should be asking:
- What state and local officials have been notified and consulted?
- When are the first refugees expected to arrive in Spartanburg?
- What federal, state, and local benefits are the refugees entitled to receive a) upon designation as a refugee and b) upon resettlement in the Spartanburg area?
- How many refugees will be resettled in the Spartanburg area?
- How are the refugees chosen to resettle in Spartanburg?
- What is the country of origin of each of the refugees to be resettled in the Spartanburg area?
- Who is responsible for ensuring housing, employment, and education services for the resettled refugees?
- Who is responsible for ensuring resettled refugees maintain employment, as opposed to tracking employment for the first few months after being resettled?
- How many of the refugees to be resettled in the Spartanburg area are of the age to attend K–12 schools? Of those, how many need the local government to provide interpreters or teachers who speak the native language of the refugee for the students?
- Do any of the refugees to be resettled in the Spartanburg area have criminal convictions? If so, for what crimes has each been convicted?
- Please explain the background check process performed on refugees scheduled to be resettled in Spartanburg.
- Will this be the only time refugees will be resettled to the Spartanburg area pursuant to the agency’s proposal? Or can additional refugees be resettled pursuant to the proposal?
Gowdy requested “that any plans to resettle refugees in the Spartanburg, South Carolina, area be placed on hold until my constituents and I receive your substantive responses to the questions and information requested in this letter.”
Do you think Gowdy’s questions and request are reasonable? Let us know in the comments section below.