The cascade of governors (over two dozen now) demanding that the State Department not send them any more Syrian refugees didn’t just happen in a vacuum. Local and state dissatisfaction with Washington’s dumping of refugees has been building for years. These communities were dubbed “pockets of resistance” by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement a couple of years ago, a moniker they have embraced. The Paris atrocities merely turned the dial up to 11.
What’s driven much of this local resentment has not been security concerns so much as cost ones –concerns that apply to all refugees, not merely those from Syria or even the Islamic world generally. The paid agents of the State Department – the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (52 percent taxpayer-funded), Church World Service (57 percent taxpayer-funded), World Relief (70 percent taxpayer-funded), Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Services (92 percent taxpayer-funded), and others – decide on their own, in secret, where they will send the refugees they’re paid to “sponsor,” whether the local schools and other institutions can handle them or not. I use scare quotes because sponsoring a refugee does not mean what you think it does – it consists of little more than signing the refugees up for welfare and then moving on to the next revenue-generating warm body (the agencies are paid by the head).
For states and localities, refugee resettlement can be a huge unfunded mandate. This heavy use of state and local welfare and other services, combined with the imperious attitude of the State Department and its minions, has generated resistance across the country, from Idaho to South Carolina and many places in between. They’ve gotten nowhere in pointing to the law’s all-but-meaningless requirement for consultation with state and local governments. Tennessee even passed a law in 2011 to try to force the State Department to consult with local communities – to little effect.
Faced with this week’s high-profile rebellion in the wake of the Paris atrocities, maybe things will change. But don’t count on it; the refugee resettlement industry is a committed, relentless lobby and will protect its access to taxpayer funds as tenaciously as Planned Parenthood or the sugar lobby.