CAPS Encourages Resettling Refugees Close to Their Home Countries

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

March 31, 2016

The presidential primaries have distracted Americans from the ongoing threat to public safety that the Obama administration’s refugee resettlement program represents. The administration has committed, despite public opposition, to accepting 10,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees in 2016 which will bring the annual worldwide refugee total coming to the United States this year to 85,000.

Compassionate resettlement should be U.S. goal.

 

In December, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson admitted at a House Homeland Security committee hearing that “there is no-risk free process” to resettling refugees from nations like Syria and Iraq that sponsor terrorism and are avowed U.S. enemies. Johnson also acknowledged that terrorists could “exploit” the U.S. resettlement process. In an effort to minimize alarm, Johnson indicated that refugee vetting is more thorough than ever, an evaluation with which FBI director James Comey strongly disagrees.

Although Obama’s proposed increase in Syrian and Iraqi refugees has captured most of the national attention, Somali refugees already resettled in Minneapolis-St. Paul are linked to a kill list they created that targeted 34 Minnesota police officers.

Senior editor David Frum at The Atlantic wrote that the unemployment rate for Somalis in Minnesota is 21 percent, and that 23,000 of the 33,000 refugees are on some form of public assistance. Frum explained the most compelling reason for high Somali unemployment: “Only about 18 percent of boys and 15 percent of girls attend even primary school in Somalia. UNICEF has given up trying to measure literacy rates.”

Refugee resettlement in the U.S. is neither the best nor the most humane solution, and programs with that goal should be immediately suspended. Instead, the mass displacement of Middle Eastern refugees could be handled more effectively if they’re resettled close to home. Not only would they be able to return more quickly once the conflict ends, more refugees could be taken out of danger. The cost to resettle a single refugee in the U.S. is 12 times as expensive as it is to care for that person in a neighboring country.

Read the CAPS press release here that announced the launch of its new campaign against the misguided compassion that Congress and advocacy groups promote when they lobby for more resettlement in the U.S. and ignore the better course of resettling refugees close to home.

Watch the brief CAPS’ video and sign the petition here that urges President Obama to adopt this compassionate solution to refugee resettlement.

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