Our focus has been concentrated on the fiscal and transparency (or lack thereof) aspects of this program.
The events in Europe over the last six months have riveted the world’s attention as millions of so-called refugees from Africa and the Middle East flood (Facebook video) the continent with no end in sight. They have also focused the attention of many on the refugee resettlement issue here. It is now clear that this mass migration is nothing short of an invasion – a modern-day invasion of Europe. If you aren’t aware of this, then you haven’t been paying attention. The events of New Year’s Eve put the events in Europe in their proper perspective.
With the failure of the SAFE Act to pass the US Senate, it now remains for the states to take action to stem the tide of refugee resettlement. As a direct result of our educational efforts and the briefing of our legislators, several of our representatives have sponsored legislation to address the out-of-control refugee resettlement in Virginia.
Our review of pending legislation is below:
Proposed Legislation to Regulate Refugee Resettlement in Virginia
HB 494 sponsored by Delegate Bob Marshall is basically a state version of the SAFE Act that requires a thorough background check for all refugees coming from Syria and Iraq and certification to that effect by the FBI and DHS. Right now, federal authorities are assuring us that these background checks are being conducted and that they are sufficient. And we all know this no more true today than it has been in the past. It is doubtful that this bill will be effective at the state level any more than it would have been at the national level. Good effort, nonetheless.
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HB 852 sponsored by Delegate Tim Hugo prohibits the resettlement of refugees from countries that are currently designated as state sponsors of terrorism by the US State Department. Those states so designated are: Iran, Sudan and Syria. This bill may be too narrow as Iraq, Somalia, Nigeria and North African countries are not on the list, despite terrorist activities there. It is also worth noting that the fiscal impact of refugees from sub-Saharan Africa is no less than that of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa. This legislation will also expire on July 1, 2018. Again, a good first effort but far from comprehensive.
The bill would prohibit refugee resettlement absent background checks by the Virginia State Police and certification to the Governor. Basically, it looks to our State police to conduct the background checks and certifications that would be required of the FBI and DHS by the failed SAFE Act. It would also require local participation of elected officials and police in the resettlement process prior to resettlement of any refugees in the Commonwealth and would require refugees resettled here to report to the police within 3 days of arrival and then once monthly for 12 months. There is a lot that those in favor of unbridled resettlement will find objectionable here. This bill definitely picks a fight and maybe it’s time.
It is our understanding that a joint resolution is a customary way to require such an audit and might be easier to get through that an actual bill. This is an excellent place to start given our emphasis on the financial burden on the states and localities. We urge you to support this legislation.
The security risks involved in bringing refugees from Syria and Iraq should not be understated, but everyone needs to take the long view here. Refugee resettlement represents an undisclosed and unfunded mandate by the federal government on the Commonwealth and its taxpayers.
Virginians have a right to know exactly how much the resettlement of refugees in the Commonwealth will cost them. Only then can they make an informed decision as to what extent they wish to participate in the program, if at all.
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