Refugee Problem

Threat of terrorism felt by Oklahoma citizens

Due to the threat of domestic terrorism, a growing chorus of citizens and elected officials are against allowing Muslim refugees from Syria into Oklahoma.

In contrast, President Obama is discounting any threat and wanting to bring in thousands of refugees who have not been thoroughly screened.

The issue has come to the forefront in light of the Islamic terrorist attack in Paris that killed 129 innocent citizens and wounded hundreds of others. Investigators believe at least one of those terrorists came into France disguised as a refugee from Syria.

U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Oklahoma; Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee; Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas; and Brian Babin, R-Texas, are calling for a temporary suspension of Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) resettlement funding for all refugees, as well as individuals not in a legitimate lawful status.

The lawmakers’ approach includes but also extends beyond refugee services for Syrian, Iraqi and other refugees and reflects the need to examine the resettlement of potential “special interest aliens” who are crossing the southern border of the United States.

The lawmakers want to address the issue in an omnibus spending bill. They argue that congressional action to protect American citizens from Islamic State terrorists must acknowledge vulnerabilities in our overseas vetting process as well as our domestic security vulnerabilities. They contend that Islamic State terrorists can just as easily pose as illegal aliens crossing our southern border as they can refugees fleeing a war-torn country overseas.

The director of the Texas Department of Public Safety was recently asked whether Islamic State terrorists had infiltrated the Southern border.  He said, “Individuals that come across the Texas/Mexican border from countries with a known terrorism presence and the answer to that is yes.”

In April, a Judicial Watch report cited a Mexican Army officer and police inspector who asserted that ISIS was operating training bases in close proximity of the U.S. Southern border. Another report from August 2014 stated that social media traffic indicated ISIS was planning to “infiltrate” the southern border in order to carry out a terrorist attack.

ORR has failed to submit annual reports in a timely manner as required by the Immigration and Nationality Act, despite being directly involved in the resettlement of thousands of illegal aliens who have crossed the southern border over the past few years. ORR’s budget has grown from approximately $750 million in FY2012 funding to over $1.5 billion currently. Repeated attempts by members of Congress to conduct oversight of ORR have been met by delays, obstruction and a failure to produce information, according to the congressmen. They say the vetting and resettlement processes associated with services for refugees and aliens not in a legitimate lawful status must be re-examined in order to address threats from all potential access points.

The release states, “Accordingly, all resettlement services should be temporarily suspended. If Congress funds ORR without such restrictions, Congress will be providing the president the funds to carry out his refugee resettlement efforts in full – both from countries overseas as well as through the resettlement of illegal aliens at the southern border.”

The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) was established by the Refugee Act of 1980. It operates within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). According to ORR’s FY2013 Annual Report, its “mission is to link these newly-arrived populations to key resources to maximize their potential in the U.S., and to become integrated and successful members of American society.” ORR has settled more than three million refugees from seventy different countries since it was established.

Deacon Kevin Sartorius of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Tulsa said on the Pat Campbell Radio Show last week that his organization had been contacted to see if they would accept an increase in refugees and they declined.

At this time, they aren’t working with anyone from Syria.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has offered the assistance of his office and joined Gov. Mary Fallin and others in urging the Obama administration to suspend accepting Syrian refugees in the United States in the aftermath of the Paris attacks.

“An important part of our heritage and identity as a nation is the fact the United States has always come to the aide of those being religiously and politically persecuted,” Pruitt said. “The administration should do more to offer up a clear, effective plan to defeat ISIS and assist those being persecuted and threatened by the terrorist group. But the current situation calls for extraordinary action to ensure the safety and well-being of American citizens. There are credible reports terrorists have entered Europe by posing as Syrian refugees.

“The Obama administration must be able to ensure the American public that the screening process used to vet refugees is rigorous and capable of preventing exploitation of refugee crises like the one in Syria. Until then, the administration should suspend the acceptance of Syrian refugees into the United States.”

More than 30 governors have said they will not allow Syrian refugees to be relocated in their states.

Fallin sent a letter to Obama asking that none come to Oklahoma.