Many have been outraged at Attorney General Sam Olens' recent letter of opinion to Governor Deal regarding the legality of preventing federally funded benefits to Syrian refugees.
Olens' letter can be seen here [parts of the letter are referenced in brackets below].
The fact is Sam Olens gave us a gift. What he has told us in his statement is in fact validating what we have been saying for 3 years.
[If the State no longer wants to function as the federally-designated refugee resettlement program, it may cease participation after giving 120 days advance notice to the Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement. See 45 C.F.R. §400.301(a).]
We can leave the Refugee Resettlement (RR) program anytime we choose after giving 120 days notice! After we leave the RR program the federal funded special benefits refugees receive wind down and terminate in full within 9 months (except things like free college educations).
These federally funded programs (refugee cash assistance, medical assistance, and housing assistance) cost Georgia nothing. Don't worry about them winding down. There are other small benefits. Family services (how to take care of children, how to ride the bus and/or drive a car) are also federally funded and will eventually work their way out of the system. Opponents say the federal government will step in and run the program if we get out. The answer is maybe yes, maybe no. Wyoming has held off the RR program for years by refusing to participate. In past years Connecticut has taken only 10 refugees; Delaware and Rhode Island have taken even fewer.
One thing that props up this program is community support. If the political leaders discourage community support, refugee operations move away on their own. Case in point is Terra Haute, Indiana where the community told RR to get out because the Samalians were wrecking the town.
We too can stop this anytime we choose. If you notice in his opinion letter, Olens also mentioned grants and contracts.
[The Georgia DHS assures the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) that the goals and objectives of the Department's Refugee Resettlement Program comply with all other applicable Federal Statutes in effect during the time that it is receiving grant funding. (§400.5(i)(3)]
Grants are applied for and contracts are written to enforce the grant provisions. The issue here is stop applying for the grants and there will be no contract issues with the federal government.
We do have the ability to get out of the Refugee Resettlement business. We do have the right to keep our state safe.