Georgia’s refugee resettlement efforts are out of control
by Joe Newton
February 18, 2014 04:00 AM
Thirty-four years ago, President Jimmy Carter — grandfather of Georgia Democrat gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter — signed into law the Refugee Resettlement Act. This well-intentioned and costly law, however, is outdated and must be drastically overhauled.
The act provided for 70,000 legal refugees per year to enter with a fast-track toward citizenship. The U.S. State Department was supposed to screen applicants for communicable diseases and security threats — and the refugees were supposed to be designated as fleeing from brutal treatment due to their religious and political beliefs. This is no longer the case.
Incredibly, our country’s refugee screening has basically been turned over to the United Nations. The U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees determines who meets the “refugee” definition. Ninety-five percent of the refugees arriving are referred by this agency, says researcher Edwin Rubenstein. Even more incredible, he found that the top 10 countries of origin are Bhutan, Burma, Iraq, Somalia, Cuba, Congo, Iran, Eritrea, Sudan and Ethiopia. Clearly, the U.N.’s definitions and priorities are quite different from those of the average American!
The designation of “refugee” is now most often given to everyone in an entire class of people who are deemed victims of “discrimination.” An individual need not prove personal hardship.
American religious and secular agencies also receive taxpayer funds for every refugee they get the U.N. to recommend for admission. Then the refugees are foisted off on communities without warning or preparation — and DeKalb County has been a favorite dumping ground. And, as one can see from the top 10 countries of origin, many of these refugees have customs and culture that mix into American culture about as well as oil and water.
The program has brought into Georgia over 66,000 refugees who average having four children per year. We now have the third generation of these people in Georgia who are eligible to vote — with a potential voting population of over 150,000.
In 2010 the welfare cost to Georgians was $17 million, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Counties chipped in $4 million of your money — most of which came from your property taxes. The federal government pays most of the cost for 90 days, and then Georgians absorb the welfare cost in perpetuity. Estimates show that the Georgia welfare cost is now approaching $40 million annually and rising exponentially.
Because of this program, DeKalb County schools must provide costly instruction in over 100 languages. Cobb schools also have to grapple with this growing language burden.
To his credit, Gov. Nathan Deal asked the State Department to stop sending more refugees to Georgia — and it has so far complied. But that is only a temporary solution.
The bottom line: Georgia does not have to participate. It doesn’t have to accept the federal money. Research shows that if a state legislature cuts off the money, these people move to another state. When Indiana and other states cut off the money the welfare-minded refugee population quickly moved to greener pastures.
Also, according to HHS, of the Georgia refugees who do want to work only 40 percent are still working after 90 days. At the end of a year, only 18 percent still work and there is a rapid drop-off soon thereafter.
This is an entirely new welfare class we are creating to the detriment of our state and culture.
It is noteworthy, by the way, that state Sen. Jason Carter has never made any effort to try to reduce or eliminate this program even though it is overburdening his DeKalb County constituency. In fact, he supports it as part of his grandfather’s “legacy.”
Democrats joined the Republican governor to temporarily stem this refugee tide into our state. But why doesn’t the General Assembly just simply end this refugee racket by cutting off the money flow?
Joe Newton is chairman, Citizens for Refugee Resettlement Relief in Georgia.