Did you know that multimillions of Georgia taxpayer dollars in recent years have been poured into refugee resettlement programs and that the Peach State has one of the highest influx rates in the nation?
When then-President Jimmy Carter signed the Refugee Resettlement Act into law in 1980 it was well-intentioned. Now it is outdated, costly and due for a drastic overhaul.
The law 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.
Our country’s refugee screening has basically been turned over to the United Nations, with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees determining 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 UN’s definitions and priorities are quite different from those of the average Georgian or 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.
Religious agencies receive taxpayer funds for every refugee they get the UN to recommend for admission. Then the refugees are all too often sent to communities without warning or preparation— and DeKalb County has been a favorite dumping ground. The program has brought into Georgia over 66,000 refugees who average having four children per year. Georgia now has the third generation of refugees 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. Then Georgians absorb the welfare cost in perpetuity. Estimates show that our state’s welfare cost is now approaching $40 million annually and rising exponentially.
Consider what has happened just in DeKalb County. Its schools must provide costly instruction in over 100 languages. Now other school systems are grappling with this growing language burden, especially with the border surge of Central American minors who are being shipped to Georgia.
To his credit, Gov. Nathan Deal asked the State Department two years ago to stop sending more refugees to Georgia. It temporarily agreed, but now the influx has restarted. So the level of taxpayer funding in our state budget to support refugee resettlement is now approximately $9,700,000.
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 the influx shifts to another state. When Indiana and other states cut off the money the welfare-minded refugee population quickly moved to greener pastures. There is another factor to consider. Of the Georgia refugees who do want to work, according to HHS, only 40 percent are still working after 90 days. At the end of a year, only 18 per cent still work and there is a rapid drop-off soon thereafter.
Several Democrat lawmakers joined the Republican governor to try to temporarily stem this refugee tide into our state. But why doesn’t the General Assembly just simply curb this refugee influx by cutting off the money flow?
Joe Newton is chairman of Citizens for Refugee Resettlement Relief in Georgia.