Dec 02 2015

Yellowhammer News: Shelby, Sessions tag-team Obama’s Syrian refugee program, move to revoke its funding

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) on Tuesday unloaded on President Barack Obama’s refugee resettlement plan, creating a powerful one-two punch in the Senate that could lead to the program being defunded.

The current funding proposal before Congress would not only authorize the President’s plan to bring in 85,000 refugees on top of the current, historical annual immigration flow, but would also allow for an unlimited amount of money to be spent on lifetime welfare and benefits for refugees.

100 refugees are currently slated to be housed in Alabama by Catholic Social Services. The date of their arrival is uncertain.

The two conservative Alabama senators released the following joint statement Tuesday afternoon:

As Chairmen of Subcommittees on both the Appropriations and Judiciary Committees, we believe it is essential that any government funding bill cancel the President’s blank check for refugee resettlement. Long before the barbaric attacks in Paris, government officials and investigators have stated that we do not have the capacity to effectively screen Syrian refugees. The bloody assaults on the streets of France add new urgency to an already dangerous situation. Right now, our refugee program – like all of our visa programs – runs on autopilot. Each year, millions of visas go out the door without any input or action from Congress. We would not accept this policy for the federal budget, and we should not accept it for immigration. We therefore urge the inclusion of a provision in any omnibus spending bill that makes it absolutely clear that no refugee resettlement will take place without a separate, affirmative Congressional vote to authorize any resettlement and offset its huge costs.

In order to carry out his plans, the President needs the annual appropriation for the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement and other budget items. Congress therefore, through its spending power, can block the President’s plans. Absent such restrictions, the omnibus spending bill will give the President all the funds he needs to carry out the resettlement of nearly 100,000 refugees this year alone. First and foremost, this is a question of appropriations.

Under our nation’s current policy, the President simply brings in as many refugees as he wants. Refugees are entitled to access all major welfare programs, and they can also draw benefits directly from the Medicare and Social Security disability and retirement trust funds – taking those funds straight from the pockets of American retirees who paid into these troubled funds all of their lives.

Our immigration and refugee policies must serve the interests of our nation and protect the security of the American people. After admitting 1.5 million migrants from Muslim countries on lifetime visas since 9/11, it is time to assist in relocating Muslim migrants within their home region rather than relocating large numbers to the United States. It simply cannot be our policy to encourage a mass migration of entire populations from their homelands, a strategy that will only further destabilize the region and bring threats of terrorism deep inside our shores.

House Speaker Paul Ryan has also indicated that defunding the Syrian refugee program is likely a necessary move to keep the country safe.

While federal leaders debate the program in Washington, thirty governors have vowed to reject Syrian refugees on the state level.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley was among the first, instructing state agencies to utilize ‘all lawful means necessary’ to keep Syrian refugees out of Alabama.