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This past Tuesday, St. Cloud City Councilman Jeff Johnson participated in a high-profile discussion of the Refugee Resettlement Act of 1980. Saying that it was a fascinating discussion is understatement. Each panelist made an opening presentation, which was followed by a Q & A period. These presentations were made by Don Barnett, a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, Richard Thompson, the president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, and Councilman Johnson.

Follow this link to the transcript of the presentations.

During his presentation, Don Barnett quoted Ted Kennedy, the chief author of the bill, as saying “because the admission of refugees is a federal decision and lies outside of normal immigration procedures, the federal government has a clear responsibility to assist communities in resettling refugees and helping them to become self-supporting. The basic issues here were the length of time of federal responsibility and the method of its administration. State and local agencies were insistent that federal assistance must continue long enough to assure that local citizens will not be taxed for programs they did not initiate and for which they were not responsible. The program must assure full and adequate federal support for refugee resettlement programs by authorizing permanent funding for state, local, and volunteer projects.”

That might be one of the most sensible things Sen. Kennedy ever said. Here’s the video of Barnett’s presentation:

Based on what the bill’s chief author said, the federal government isn’t living up to its responsibilities. Certainly, there’s no denying the fact that the bill’s chief author knows what the legislative intent is. During his presentation, Councilman Johnson focused on the bill from the “perspective from the local city level.” Councilman Johnson said “And I want to say on my watch this really started brewing in St. Cloud approximately three years ago, where my constituents – I represent Ward 4 – started asking questions about the Refugee Resettlement Program, about why am I spending money in a program that I have no representation. This is a classic case of taxation without representation. So this started to boil over time.”

Johnson continued:

To summarize that meeting, what I saw, four things were occurring. One, we have a nonprofit religious organization, OK, taking federal dollars, and they were pocketing approximately $1,000 per refugee. The allocation’s about 3,300 (dollars), but they got to keep about $1,000 per refugee, OK? They were not being transparent with the public, and it got to the point where they actually had a deputy at the door monitoring who was coming into the meetings. And I said you need to open up these meetings because you’re using federal dollars, you’re a nonprofit organization, and to me it was becoming apparent that they were acting like a for-profit corporation.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here’s more of that ‘iceberg’:

So finally, what led up to kind of a culminating event in St. Cloud was a resolution that I had introduced into the City Council in November. And it’s a simple one-page resolution. I call it legalized plagiarism: All I did is about two-thirds of this resolution was quoted right from the Refugee Act of 1980. And I’d like to read a couple parts. Mark mentioned it early on in the presentation; it’s so important I want to mention it again just briefly. And this is the actual language in the resolution. It says “Whereas the Refugee Act of 1980 states that 8 U.S. Code 1522(b),” quote, “‘The director'” – I’m talking about the Minnesota Office of Refugee Resettlement director – “‘shall develop and implement in consultation with representatives of voluntary agencies and state and local governments'” – that’s me, OK? – “‘policies and strategies for the placement and resettlement of refugees within the United States.’” The next paragraph has even more teeth from the U.S. Code: “Whereas the Refugee Act of 1980 states in 8 U.S. Code 1522(c)(2) The director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement will” – “will” is a pretty strong word – quote, “‘provide for a mechanism whereby representatives of local affiliates of voluntary agencies regularly, not less than quarterly, meet with representatives of state and local governments to plan and coordinate in advance of their arrival the appropriate placement of refugees amongst various states and localities.'”

LSS was doing its utmost to hide their actions:

What was going on here in St. Cloud is Lutheran Social Services – and after kind of pulling some teeth I finally got their abstract to kind of find out what was going on – is they were going ahead with this process. And then, because I was so persistent, it was like show and tell. I’d show up at the quarterly meetings and they’d tell me what they did. My argument is that is a violation of federal law. That is not in advance planning, all right? This is show and tell. I’m finding out after the fact. So what was going on, this was feeding into the frustration, again, to the taxpayers, the people of Ward 4 in St. Cloud that I represent.

This is how refugee resettlement rose to become the potent political issue it’s become.

The first truth about the Refugee Resettlement Program is that the federal government isn’t living up to its obligation. The next truth about the Refugee Resettlement Program is that it’s become more like an unfunded mandate with time. The third truth about the Refugee Resettlement Program is that the federal government is hostile to counties and municipalities. They don’t care whether their program drives up local taxes. The federal government’s attitude seems to be that ‘that’s their problem.’

The other thing that’s important in all of this is that the City Council, the people on the front lines on this, are supposed to protect their citizens’ interests. They aren’t there to protect the state’s interests. That’s what we have legislators for. They aren’t there to protect the federal government’s interests. That’s why we have congressmen and senators. If the city council won’t push back against the federal government, then they’re worthless. They should be replaced by people who insist on accountability and transparency.

The finger-pointing must stop immediately. While the program is administered by the federal government, it’s indisputable that municipalities and counties have shouldered an increasing percentage of the burden for this program.

It isn’t that St. Cloud is hostile to refugees. It’s that we’re upset with the federal government and with Lutheran Social Services.

Tuesday morning, the Center of Immigration Studies, aka CIS, held a panel discussion on the topic of refugee resettlement. The participating panelists were Don Barnett, a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies and widely published on refugee resettlement and asylum issues, Richard Thompson, the President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, and St. Cloud City Councilman Jeff Johnson.

Based on the verified information presented during the discussion, it’s clear that the United States needs to rethink its refugee resettlement policies, not just for its own good but also for the good of the refugees. During the discussion, moderator Mark Krikorian said that the “point of refugee resettlement should be a last resort for people who literally cannot stay where they are for a second longer.” He then highlighted a report from “the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees”, which said that just “281 of the over 118,000 refugees, or 0.40 percent, the United Nations has dispatched to safe nations around the world, most to the United States, actually faced threats requiring their immediate removal. This emergency level applies to cases in which the immediacy of security and/or medical condition necessitates removal from the threatening conditions within a few days, if not within hours.”

Further, one of the other statistics presented during the event shows that it costs 12 times more to resettle refugees in the United States or other western nations than it costs to resettle refugees within the region of their birth. This information makes this propaganda video virtually irrelevant:

People need to start asking pro-refugee resettlement organizations whether it’s more important to import refugees into unfamiliar surroundings at high prices or whether it’s more important to resettle these refugees into regional camps in familiar territory at one-twelfth the cost. If the goal is to improve these refugees’ lives, then keeping them in familiar territory is imperative. If the goal is to use a federal government program to pay the salaries for Volag fat-cats, then we shouldn’t change anything.

UniteCloud has been a leading advocate for maintaining the status quo on resettlement policy. In this post, UniteCloud spends most of their bandwidth criticizing Jeff Johnson but they made some important admissions:

Much of Jeff’s focus has been on Lutheran Social Services, since they are the only refugee resettlement agency in Central MN. He claims that LSS has not been transparent enough and, to some extent, that has been true. Because of the combative nature of some of the attendees at their quarterly meeting, LSS has limited the meeting attendance to “invite only”.

LSS, aka Lutheran Social Services, hasn’t been transparent because they don’t want people to know how little they do to earn $1,000 per refugee resettled to the United States.

The truth is that LSS isn’t in the resettlement business to help refugees. They’re in it because it’s a lucrative business that pays the lucrative salaries of their leaders. There’s no proof that LSS works with these refugees to teach them about American culture or how to assimilate or, most importantly, access the American Dream. That isn’t compassion. That’s a racket.

It’s time to rethink US refugee resettlement. The goal should be to improve the refugees’ lives at the least expensive price. We’re failing on both counts right now.

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St. Cloud City Councilman Jeff Johnson will participate in a panel discussion on the refugee resettlement program in Washington, DC this Tuesday morning. The discussion is being held at the National Press Club. It’s being hosted by the Center for Immigration Studies, aka CIS. CIS Executive Director Mark Krikorian will serve as moderator to a panel that will include Councilman Johnson, CIS fellow Don Barnett and Richard Thompson, the president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center.

The Times article highlighted the fact that the Southern Poverty Law Center, aka the SPLC, has labeled the CIS as a hate group. The Times article didn’t mention the fact that the SPLC is a hyper-partisan organization that frequently lumps center-right organizations in with legitimate hate groups like the KKK.

Greg Gutfeld exposed the SPLC in a monologue:

So, this is funny. You ever heard the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)? They’re a hard left outfit that loves to label people as extremists. Their ever-growing list seems to defame everyone. Ben Carson, he’s an extremist. Rand Paul. They called Maajid Nawaz an anti-Muslim extremist and get this, he’s a moderate Muslim battling religious extremism. It makes no sense. There’s [Ayaan] Hirsi Ali, a black feminist who protests against genital mutilation. SPLC placed her name and a guy to anti-Muslim extremists. So that’s extreme, to be against genital mutilation? I wonder what they’d make of Gandhi?

But that’s not the funny part. It’s the money. This poverty center has loads of it. A $320 million endowment and chucks almost 20% of it into offshore equities. Cayman Island stuff. I don’t understand it. So this poverty group sits on a pile of offshore dough. That’s like a personal trainer with a gut. Or a priest with a harem. The Center paid out $20 million in salaries in 2015 but provided just 61 grants in legal assistance. So the Southern Poverty Law Center appears to have no poverty and do virtually no law. It’s the most misleading name since the Democratic Party. Yes, count it.

Worse, their love for calling people haters incites haters into action. The maniac who shot [House Majority Whip] Stephen Scalise liked the law center on his Facebook page. And a terrorist who attacked the Family Research Council back in 2012, shooting a security guard, did so after the SPLC labeled them a hate group. He was a fan too.

I don’t know, filthy rich, linked to violence. I think the SPLC might end up having to put itself on its own list. Indeed. It’s a pretty amazing story. I have a theory that no one goes after this group because of the name. You hear Southern Poverty Law Center, you go, oh, they must be a really good outfit and you don’t want to be on their bad side.

The SPLC is itself an extremist group. The Youtube video of Gutfeld’s monologue has been taken down. I don’t have much time for Bill Maher but I’ll make this exception:

This highlights who the SPLC is. Calling a moderate Muslim an anti-Muslim extremist tells me that the SPLC is a sham.

There is a cost associated with the refugee resettlement program but it’s intentionally kept hidden. Jeff Goerger admitted it in his resolution when he said “Now therefore be it resolved by the Council of St. Cloud, MN that the City of St. Cloud has the capacity to provide municipal services to the aforementioned prospective new residents without an impact on the City budget or quality of life.”

There’s no disputing the fact that municipal services cost money. They’re line items in the City budget. That’s the shiny object argument, though. Whether the money is part of the City budget, the county budget or the school district’s budget, it’s still money being paid by the taxpayers. The taxpayers don’t care whether their money is taken from them to pay for health care services, rent subsidies or translators at the local schools. Whatever the money is spent on, the money isn’t at the taxpayers’ disposal. It’s money they can’t use to save for their retirements or their kids’ college education or a family vacation.

Jeff Goerger’s resolution is dripping with contempt for taxpayers. He’s determining whether families should have their taxes raised in the name of making St. Cloud a ‘welcoming city’, whatever that means. What a ‘welcoming city’ isn’t is a place where people want to live. They’re moving to other cities and other states. Capital flight is negatively affecting St. Cloud. That doesn’t matter to people like Jeff Goerger, Carol Lewis or Dave Masters. They just bury their head in the sand and pretend that everything is ok.