A third South Carolina county has barred the door to any Third World refugees being resettled in their community, and at least two others are considering the same move.
The Berkeley County Council unanimously passed a resolution Monday that bars any refugee funds from flowing into that county.
The resolution calls for “all South Carolina public officials to immediately cease and desist” from helping to resettle Middle Eastern refugees anywhere in the state until the legislature can act on the issue and pass legislation reflecting the will of the people.
Anderson and Pickens counties already passed similar resolutions.
Two more counties – Greenville and York – are expected to vote soon on similar resolutions.
South Carolina is the only state that gives local governments the option of rejecting, not necessarily the refugees, but the state and federal tax dollars that flow to their aid when they are resettled in a city.
The U.S. takes in 70,000 refugees per year for many years and President Obama has said he will up that to 85,000 in fiscal 2016 and 100,000 in 2017. These refugees are hand-selected by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres. The majority come from Muslim populations in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, Burma, Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia although others include Hindus from Bhutan and a small number of Christians and Buddhists.
Obama’s Syrian refugees have proven most controversial, because of the presence of a large jihadist army in that country affiliated with the Islamic State, al-Nusra Front and al-Qaida. He has agreed to accept at least 10,000 Syrians for permanent resettlement in more than 180 U.S. cities and towns in fiscal 2016, with the promise of many more in 2017.
The U.N. has already selected nearly 20,000 Syrians who are waiting in the pipeline bound for the U.S.
But unlike most states, South Carolina is pushing back. Not from the top, as its Republican governor is cooperating with the Obama administration, but from the grassroots.
South Carolina’s refugee funding proviso was added to the budget for the first time this year. It must be renewed every year to remain in effect.
Christina Jeffrey, a resident of Spartanburg, where the pushback against Muslim immigration began back in March, said she believes many more counties will take advantage of the budget proviso and say “no” to refugees. The Upstate area, which is more conservative, is more likely to do so than the low country area around Charleston area, she said.
“I think there’s a genuine problem, and there’s a real live budget proviso that people can point to, and in every county where there are living, breathing, thinking people, this can pass,” said Jeffrey, a former historian for the U.S. House of Representatives.
Greenville’s county council is most likely to pass the resolution next, she said.
“Spartanburg is the most stubborn.”
The issue came to light in March when World Relief, a Christian aid organization, announced it would be resettling 60 to 65 refugees from Democratic Republic of Congo, Burma, Rwanda, Iraq and Afghanistan throughout fiscal 2016. Some will eventually come from Syria as well.
A “pocket of resistance” formed with local activists spreading the word that the Christian aid agency actually performs most of its “charity” work with federal grant money, and that most of the refugees are signed up for food stamps, subsidized housing and Medicaid, offered free schooling and other taxpayer-funded benefits.
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The resistance grew, to the point where Secretary of State John Kerry sent his assistant secretary for global population and immigration, Ann Richard, to meet with local stakeholders this summer. She tried to put out the fire, and may have succeeded in Spartanburg, but now the resistance is flaring up in other counties.
People are resisting what they see as a form of stealth jihad, the gradual Islamization of their communities – without their permission.
Governor ignores FBI warnings about vetting Syrians
Gov. Nikki Haley, a Republican, has come down on the side of Obama’s State Department, saying she trusts the federal government’s ability to vet the Syrian refugees.
Haley’s comment came despite warnings to the contrary from the FBI.
The latest warning came just last month when FBI Director James Comey stated before a congressional hearing that the U.S. government has no ability to screen the Syrian refugees because the U.S. has no boots on the ground in Syria and the nation’s law enforcement system is in shambles.
“The challenge we’re all talking about is that, we can only query against that (data) which we have collected,” Comey told the House Homeland Security Committee on Oct. 21.
James Comey, FBI director, has warned about the lack of data available on Syrian refugees and their backgrounds.
“If someone has never made a ripple in the pond in Syria in a way that would get their identity or their interest reflected in our database, we can query our database until the cows come home but there would be nothing show up because we have no record on it,” Comey continued.
“You can only query what you have collected.”
An earlier warning was given by one of the FBI’s top counter-terrorism officials, Michael Steinbach, to Congress on Feb. 11.
Haley hasn’t listened to the FBI’s warnings. The media in South Carolina have ignored the warnings.
Media coverage ‘appalling’
The Post and Courier of Charleston, for instance, attributed fears about vetting the Islamic refugees to local Republicans, not mentioning that Obama’s own FBI director has said it’s impossible to vet them.
The Daily Beast ran a story under the mocking headline, “South Carolina town has no Sryian refugees, tells them to GTGO anyway.”