Bureaucrats in the State Department and the Office of Refugee Resettlement have decided that Michigan should have more refugees of all sorts, and Syrian refugees in particular.
In FY 2015, 3,013 refugees arrived in Michigan, of which 180 were from Syria, according to the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
Five hundred more — 3,548 — have arrived during the first eleven months of FY 2016 (ending August 31, 2016), according to the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. That represents a 43 percent increase over the 2,477 refugees who arrived in Michigan during the first eleven months of FY 2015; 536 arrived in the last month of that fiscal year.
If September sees the same monthly rate, the final number of refugees resettled in Michigan will easily exceed 4,000, and, if the Detroit News is correct, it could be as much as 5,000, though that would require a final month of more than 1,000 resettled refugees.
“There always seems to be a rush towards end of the fiscal year by the resettlement agencies to get more refugees in,” one refugee resettlement expert tells Breitbart News.
Most Americans don’t want more Syrian refugees.
But, the federal bureaucrats who run the program do not seem to care what Michiganders want, even though the Refugee Act of 1980 requires the federal government to “consult with” each state about the number of refugees resettled within its boundaries.
“What citizens in Michigan want ‘doesn’t matter’ to bureaucrats in Washington and their contractors on the ground in the state, is a perfect description of how the refugee resettlement program operates,” an attorney familiar with the federal refugee resettlement program tells Breitbart News.
“In fact, these same bureaucrats don’t even include the state’s citizen taxpayers stakeholders in the program. And more importantly, the bureaucratic approach to shoe-horning into any community of their choosing belies the legislative framework and intent of the Refugee Act of 1980,” the attorney adds.
But the law is not being followed. That is at the crux of the potential legal challenge to the accelerated resettlement of refugees in Michigan.
It’s a challenge that many grassroots activists in Michigan think can’t happen soon enough, in light of Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s promise to increase the number of Syrian refugees allowed into the country to 65,000 annually, up from 10,740 that have come in to the country in the first eleven months of FY 2016, and a dramatic increase from the 2,300 who arrived in all four previous fiscal years.
It’s a good bet that Michigan, the state that has, next to California, received the greatest number of the 10,740 Syrian refugees resettled in the United States so far in FY 2016, will continue to be a national focal point of Syrian refugee resettlement if Clinton wins in November.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Monday that President Obama “certainly would like to see the United States continue to ramp up our commitment” to the resettlement of the 10,740 Syrian refugees who come so far in FY 2016, CNS News reported.
Of the FY 2016 refugees resettled in Michigan, 1,115 are from Syria, most of whom have arrived in the past three months.
In fact, almost half of all refugees arriving in Michigan in FY 2016, 1,688, have arrived in the three months between May 31 and August 31. More than half of the Syrian refugees — 797 — arrived during the same time period.
Several cities in Michigan have resettled more Syrian refugees in FY 2016 than many states: 325 were resettled in Troy, 231 in Dearborn, 227 in Clinton Township (in Macomb County), 76 in Grand Rapids, 63 in Battle Creek, 51 in Ann Arbor, 30 in Hamtramck, 22 in Bloomfield Township, 13 in Detroit, 10 in Bloomfield, with the remainder resettled in Madison Heights, Pleasant Ridge, Sterling Heights, West Bloomfield, and Ypsilanti.
Fewer Syrian refugees were resettled in forty states during the first eleven months of FY 2016 than were resettled in the city of Troy, Michigan, population 80,990, alone.
Troy is located in Oakland County, population 1.2 million, in addition to Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township, Pleasant Ridge, and West Bloomfield. All told, 360 Syrian refugees have been resettled in Oakland County to date in FY 2016.
A five-fold increase in Michigan’s Syrian refugees from 1,115 in FY 2016 to over 5,000 in FY 2017, which would correspond to the five fold overall increase proposed annually by Hillary Clinton, could bump up the total number of refugees in the state to over 8,000.
That may be in line with what the resettlement agencies in Michigan are currently asking to receive from the State Department in FY 2017, which begins on October 1.
But Michigan residents and Michigan elected officials won’t know exactly how many refugees will be sent their way until they arrive.
Therein lies the legal problem for the State Department and refugee advocates — failure on their part to comply with the “consultation with states” requirement of the Refugee Act of 1980.
In November, Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, told the State Department he wanted a “pause” on Syrian refugee arrivals until security vetting was improved.
That request had no significant impact on the number of Syrian refugees arriving in Michigan.
Nine Syrian refugees were resettled in the state in October 2015, the month before he made the request. Twenty-one were resettled in the state in November, the month he made the request. And forty-one were resettled in December, the month after he made that request.
In fact, Syrian refugees have arrived in Michigan in every month since Snyder made his request, and the number appears to be growing higher each month.
In February 2016, former President Bill Clinton appeared at a Clinton Global Initiative event and said the U.S. should bring more Syrian refugees in to Detroit to help rebuild the city.
At least one local globalist organization, the aptly named Global Detroit, which calls itself “a leader among a growing movement of local immigrant economic development initiatives across the nation,” is working to advance that cause.
The Michigan Office of New Americans, a state organization established by Gov. Snyder through an executive order in 2014, is a Global Detroit partner.
Over the past decade, the efforts to bring more refugees and immigrants into Michigan, and particularly those from Islamic Middle Eastern countries, appear to be working.
In 2015 Hamtramck, a blue collar suburb of Detroit that in the 1970s was almost entirely Polish, became the first city in the United States to have a Muslim-majority population and city council.
For the past several years, Michigan has seen a huge increase in Iraqi refugees. As the Atlantic reported:
Detroit’s suburbs have absorbed tens of thousands of Iraqi refugees in recent years after violence erupted in the wake of the war. The established Arab community in Detroit has made it the top destination for Iraqi refugees — and that, in turn, has made Michigan one of the states receiving the largest influx of refugees.
From 2010 to 2014, Michigan saw a 38 percent increase in the number of refugees moving to the state, according to data from the Health and Human Services Department. The vast majority are fleeing Iraq, where they faced violence and retaliation for working with U.S. troops during the war, like Al Saady, or because they belong to a religious minority. The number of Iraqi refugees arriving in Michigan nearly doubled in the last four years, with 2,751 arriving in 2014.
In March, State Rep. Jim Runestad (R-White Lake) introduced a bill in the Michigan House of Representatives that would require the State Department to actually follow the consultation clause of the federal Refugee Act of 1980.
Runestad describes the problem clearly in a statement:
There is currently no system involving state and local governments for oversight of refugees entering the state,” said Rep. Runestad. “This is not only a security risk to our state, but is wide open for human trafficking abuses.
“As a parent, I have a duty to protect my children, and as a state lawmaker, I have a duty to protect the rights of our local governments and our rights under the U.S. Constitution and federal law.”
Rep. Runestad said federal immigration law requires that local governments be notified prior to placement of refugees in their communities and that they be involved in the process of placement and defining their local capacity for refugee placements.
“This is being totally ignored leaving counties, schools and the state in the dark until placements have been made,” said Rep. Runestad. “Moreover, placements are made without regard to the ability of the school district to provide services or employability opportunities for the individual refugee.
But even if his bill were to pass, the chances that the state would be able to enforce its consultation requirements upon the federal government and the resettlement agencies without a protracted legal battle are slim.
The question then turns to who can effectively sue the federal government to end the resettlement of refugees and on what grounds.
For those 35 states that joined the federal refugee resettlement program after the passage of the Refugee Act of 1980 and have not withdrawn from it, the failure of the State Department and resettlement agencies to abide by the consultation clause should be sufficient grounds.
“Even the pro-refugee Migration Policy Institute acknowledges that, under the law, ‘[i]f a state opposes the [resettlement] plan, PRM [State Department] will not approve it,’” the attorney familiar with the refugee resettlement program tells Breitbart News.
But the track record of two states who have tried this approach, Alabama and Texas, is not good. The Texas case was dismissed, and Alabama lost in federal district court, though it plans to appeal.
Arguably, both states failed to document the huge economic costs imposed on them by the federal government’s dumping of refugees in their states without consultation.
Tennessee, which has withdrawn from the federal program, will be suing the federal government on Tenth Amendment grounds, an approach neither Alabama nor Texas attempted.
Governors have the authority to withdraw their states from the federal program, as Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Gov. Sam Brownback have done recently.
But Michigan Gov. Snyder has shown no inclination he has an interest in suing the federal government on either lack of consultation or Tenth Amendment grounds.
Another legal option may be available, one suggested in a 2010 Report to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee authored by former Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN).
The report found that:
From the perspective of local resettlement cities, it is clear that the Federal Government has failed to communicate what actions, if any, are being taken to build a resettlement system capable of accommodating the refugees authorized by the presidential directive for FY 2010, without placing additional strain on local community resources and detracting from the services extended to current refugees in-country.
It recommended that:
To the extent that the resettlement cities included in this report are building intercultural bridges and making the system work, it often appears to occur in spite of government resources and not because of them. Best articulated by Senator Edward Kennedy in a 1981 report discussing the Refugee Act of 1980–legislation he authored–he argued that the administration and Congress should ensure local communities are not negatively impacted by “programs they did not initiate and for which they were not responsible.”
Local governments — counties and municipalities — have standing in their own right to sue the federal government to end refugee resettlement in their areas, especially if they have not been properly consulted in advance and if the program adds significant costs to the local government.
In Michigan the obvious candidates to bring such litigation are the cities of Troy, Dearborn, Grand Rapids, and Battle Creek, Clinton Township, Oakland County, and Macomb County, all of which are clearly bearing a disproportionate share of the economic cost, the public health problems, and the security risks associated with the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States.
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