“America has always been a beacon for immigrants and refugees escaping tyranny and oppression,” Rep. Kevin Cramer said in a statement released today, announcing that he’s co-sponsoring the Refugee Resettlement Oversight and Security Act. “Americans are right to question if these refugees will be a threat to our national security.”
Refugee resettlement here in North Dakota has been a hot-button topic for years, with many local citizens concerned about the impact of refugees on crime, public assistance programs, and schools. It became an even bigger issue earlier this year when I published an email from Lutheran Social Services – which handles refugee resettlement for the feds in North Dakota – talking about a “huge” influx of refugees due to a big push from the White House.
“It will be taxpayers footing the bill for these refugees. State and local governments should be concerned about the impact these refugees will have on their budgets,” said Cramer added in his budget.
That seems to address something I’ve been writing about, which is the need for the federal government and its partners like Lutheran Social Services to be transparent. I’ve suggested that the feds and/or LSS put out regular reports to the state and local governments detailing things like refugee involvement in crimes, assistance programs, and other pertinent information. In fact, I think the State of North Dakota should make the millions the spend with LSS contingent upon this very sort of reporting.
Cramer’s comments about this legislation he’s backing makes it sound like a move in that direction. And while I think it is a step in the right direction, it really doesn’t address transparency.
Here’s what the legislation would do if passed:
- Require that Congress approve refugee numbers instead of just letting the President decide
- Prioritize the resettlement of oppressed religious minorities from Iraq and Syria
- Require the Department of Homeland Security to consult with the Director of National Intelligence and the FBI to ensure that refugees aren’t a security threat
- Require the Government Accountability Office to report to Congress yearly on the screening process for refugees
This is all well and good, as far is it goes. but I still think we need reports on the impact of refugees on crime and public assistance programs, and we need to make sure that data gets into the hands of local officials.
The goal isn’t to stop refugee resettlement, but rather to understand its impact on our communities better.