Dear city council member/ county commissioner/ Mayor:

The decision by the Obama Administration to allow thousands of Muslim refugees into the U.S., 10,000 from Syria, has seen state and local elected officials questioning what they can do to stop the adverse impact of refugee resettlement in their communities.

Though only the federal government can decide who can immigrate as a refugee, federal law requires cooperation among federal, state, and local governments in refugee resettlement. The Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), “shall consult” with state and local governments and voluntary non-profit agencies “concerning the sponsorship process and the intended distribution of refugees among the states and localities BEFORE their placement….” (Sec 8 U.S.C. § 1522(a)(2)(A). Therefore, state and local governments should have the opportunity to provide input before refugees enter a community. Also, this federal office must develop and implement, in consultation with state and local governments and non-profit agencies “policies and strategies for the placement and resettlement of refugees” (Id. § 1522(a)(2)(B)). This department must ensure that refugees are not placed in an area already highly impacted with refugees, e.g., Omaha, Lincoln, West Point, Lexington. Also, it must consider area employment opportunities, affordable housing, educational and health care resources, and likelihood that refugees will become self-sufficient and not dependent upon welfare. Consistent with these policies, the federal government must consider recommendations of states and localities to the maximum extent. (Id. § 1522(a)(2)(D)).

Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom believes that state and local elected officials are best suited to evaluate the potential impact of refugee placement.

The influx of many unvetted Muslim refugees would overwhelm community social services, health care agencies, decrease the availability of job opportunities, and strain local NE school districts to meet the needs of current student populations. The Office of Refugee Resettlement’s 2013 Annual Survey of Refugees found that of the refugees who entered the U.S. within the last 5 years, 75% receive food stamps, over 50% receive Medicaid or Refugee Medical Assistance, and almost 25% receive subsidized housing assistance. Robert Rector, Senior Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, estimates that President Obama’s Syrian resettlement will cost U.S. taxpayers $130 million annually.

Besides the great negative impact on taxpayers, these unvetted refugees pose a terrorist threat, coming from known areas rife with terrorism. Both Homeland Security and the FBI have warned that their agencies cannot screen all these refugees for terrorist and/or criminal affiliations. In February, 2015, Michael Steinbach, Assistant Director of the FBI Counterterrorism Division, testified before the House Homeland Security Committee that “The concern in Syria is that we don’t have systems in place on the ground to collect information to vet…. You’re talking about a country that is a failed state, that does not have any infrastructure, so to speak. So all of the dataset, the police, the intel services that normally you would go to seek information doesn’t exist.” FBI Director James Comey verified this revelation in later statements before this committee in October, 2015, admitting that, “You can only query what you have collected.”

We urge the Omaha City Council to pass a resolution to oppose the resettlement of additional Muslim refugees until the federal government can establish a screening process adequate to guarantee that incoming refugees can be comprehensively vetted for terrorist and/or criminal affiliations. This resolution also should discourage non-government refugee agencies from bringing in unvetted Muslim refugees. Please reply to this email, if you will introduce such a resolution.

NE Taxpayers for Freedom

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