March 9th, I opened the Spartanburg Herald Journal and found a puff piece about “Come Closer Spartanburg,” a nonprofit dedicated to fundamentally transforming Spartanburg. Some of their ideas are good, but one idea, the central message of the article, reminded me of the Amnesty campaign of 2013 and the warnings of my daughter who was working that summer at the Institute for Religion and Democracy. She discovered the strong financial support of George Soros, and the Evangelical Immigration Table. Soros is an atheist with roots in multiple projects to fundamentally transform countries. Hello Greenville.
The voice on the heart-tugging Evangelical Immigration Table radio ads that ran all summer was that of Jim Goodroe, who is Director of Missions for the Spartanburg Baptist Network. Dr. Goodroe is a member of the Evangelical Immigration Table, and a founding force in the creation of “Come Closer Spartanburg.” This time, the mission was bringing refugees to the Upstate.
Now, as their literature proclaims, and Assistant Secretary of State for Immigration and Refugees, Anne Richard, reiterated several times during the meeting she held in Spartanburg, August 25, these programs are part of the UN and US State Department initiatives to bring refugees to various states. She insisted refugees only go to cities that invite them. But what constitutes an invitation?
The State Department says the voluntary federal refugee agencies, like World Relief that has already brought in more than two-dozen people to Spartanburg and Greenville, are supposed to consult with local stakeholders. When Congressman Trey Gowdy told me that Anne Richard was coming to Spartanburg, he said it was because World Relief had not fulfilled its obligations to the community. Stakeholders were not informed in Spartanburg or Greenville and yet the State Department was aware of this failure.
Before starting a program World Relief was supposed to have consulted with the community, but they took action based on a relatively small group of “stakeholders.” However, World Relief brought in their refugee clients first, to both Spartanburg and Greenville. You will want to note that World Relief is sending almost equal numbers of refugees to Greenville as they are to Spartanburg. What’s next?
As required by the US State Department, Governor Nikki Haley signed off last year her approval for World Relief based on assurances made to her that they had studied Spartanburg County, that there was a substantial number of churches ready to be involved with World Relief and that they were consulting with stakeholders. Perhaps you will find this odd, as I do, that the State Department program does not require the “contracting agency” like World Relief to study more than one SC city.
With the help of Anne Richard, World Relief finally talked with a representative of the Mayor of Spartanburg, and Spartanburg County Council, but there was no public hearing, something for which citizens and Congressman Gowdy have asked. Congressman Gowdy also asked Secretary of State John Kerry for a moratorium so Congress could study the program.
Since that idea was going nowhere, State Senators from Spartanburg inserted a budget proviso that requires County Council approval of any refugee program trying to sign up refugees for state benefits. Nikki Haley signed this into law and it took effect July 1. In other words, Governor Haley has chosen to share her approval with county level representatives. This is an inspired way to enable Richland County to continue its refugee program, should it so choose, but other counties, where the citizens are unsure of the wisdom of such a program, can decline to approve it.
The proviso enables poor and distressed counties to decline new refugees wishing to sign up for state funded welfare programs. Since my concern is for our unemployed and homeless, especially veterans, and for children in schools who need extra help but are often sidelined when large numbers of non-English speaking children overwhelm the schools as has happened in other towns like Littleton, Maine, I am glad that local government now has a say.
Since the refugees in question are not in crisis and are in safe places, according to Ms. Richard, it seems wise to delay admitting them while Congress studies the program and holds hearings. This is just a terrible time to expand the refugee resettlement programs into the Upstate when so many of our citizens are themselves in crisis. This is especially true when there are better ways to aid refugees closer to their homes, where evangelizing is more likely to be permitted (World Relief cannot evangelize) and where they can stay in touch with friends and family who may not be eligible or willing to follow them to the U.S.
Most refugees are chosen from refugee camps. The FBI is supposed to vet them, but testified to Congress that it cannot vet refugees from “failed states.” Nevertheless, South Carolina is scheduled to get refugees from such failed states. Since ISIS, al Qaeda and other terrorist groups have publicly stated their intentions to infiltrate the refugee pool and the FBI says we now have ISIS in all 50 states, this is a problem.
If you are as concerned as we are in Spartanburg, ask Governor Haley to rescind consent for World Relief to expand the refugee program into the Upstate, at least until the program itself has been revised to protect SC citizens from negative consequences. It is imperative at this time to alert your County Council in case the Governor fails to act to protect you. Our local representatives are our last line of defense. Fortunately, the Governor has empowered the cities/counties to do just that with respect to the refugee program.
Now we must get local government to take action regardless of the political cost. Saving refugees, as important as this is, cannot be implemented while degrading employment for our citizens, education for our children, and the freedom of the people of SC to choose whom they will help. As South Carolinian Senator, John C. Calhoun, accurately warned: “The Government of the absolute majority instead of the Government of the people is but the Government of the strongest interests; and when not efficiently checked, it is the most tyrannical and oppressive that can be devised.”
Dr. Christina Jeffrey studies public policy as an independent researcher. She recently founded the Shoemaker Guild to help gather and distribute resources useful to others studying the refugee situation. These are free and downloadable under her name at www.theMadisonForum.com. Before moving to the Upstate she was Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Administration at Kennesaw State University in Georgia.