Don't Stem The Tide Of Refugees In Tennessee - And Response (2)

Thursday, December 12, 2019

The Trump Administration has released a new executive order that could change the way that the refugee resettlement program is run in the United States. The first - and most shocking -  change that is being implemented is the huge drop in refugees being allowed in the country. For the past decade, on average, around 80,000 to 90,000 refugees have been admitted per year. According to this executive order, only 18,000 refugees are planned for the coming year.

What is shocking is that, with the United States being one of the most powerful nations in the world, it is the 50th in the world for refugee assistance. According to UNHCR, the international refugee organization, Lebanon resettled more refugees than the United States between 2012 and 2017. To put this into perspective, Lebanon’s entire country is smaller than the New York state. America is 946 times larger than Lebanon, yet, Lebanon had a net increase of about 15 percent as a share of its population. 

Another change that this administration has implemented besides the drastic cut is that both states and localities have to give their written consent to allow refugees in their respective areas. Take Tennessee for example, Governor Bill Lee needs to send his written consent to allow refugees to be resettled in the state. Then the different counties need to send their consent for refugees to be resettled in their specific areas. 

What’s ironic about this executive order is that it explicitly states that these changes will not affect family reunification efforts. However, if you think about it logically, that doesn’t make any sense. If a state does not consent to having refugees continue to be resettled, a refugee living in that state will not be able to have their family members reunited with them in that state.

Let’s take another example to help clarify this point. Assuming that Tennessee does not give its consent, a refugee family living in Chattanooga would not be able to bring their mother or grandmother who is living in a refugee camp somewhere overseas. Their relative would have to go to the closest state that accepted refugees to be able to see them again, for example Atlanta, Ga. Since refugees have almost all the same rights that American citizens have, they are free to move from the city that they were originally relocated. However, if the family member left Atlanta to live in Chattanooga with their family, they would lose all the services that the relocation agency provides since they are beyond most agencies area of service.

While this is a pretty daunting reality, another risk that the executive order has is the ability to discriminate against which refugees are allowed in the country. Historically, refugees have been categorized geographically. For example, refugees from Columbia would be categorized as South American and those from Ukraine would be from Europe. The new order now sorts refugees by persecution type, for example religious or political persecution. This gives way to the possibility of discrimination based on different groups. A state can now choose what groups of refugees are allowed to resettle in their area. So, what if a state only wants Christian refugees that were being persecuted? What happens if a state only accepts single women and single mothers? What happens to all the refugees left behind? 

Doesn’t the constitution protect individuals’ freedoms? What happens to freedom of religion? Freedom of speech? What this executive order basically boils down to is another travel ban. The United States was founded on the backs of refugees fleeing from European persecution. Refugees have made huge contributions for us. According to a report by the Urban Institute, refugees contribute more taxes to the government than their cost in benefits. For example, in 2015 refugees paid over $20 billion in taxes. Refugees help to build our economy as many open their own businesses and live the true American dream. 

The way that we, the ordinary people, can make a difference is by reaching out to our elected officials and telling them that we want refugees to continue being allowed in Tennessee. Without Governor Bill Lee’s written consent, thousands of refugee families that are living in Tennessee would lose the opportunity to finally be reunited with their loved ones.

Samir Khalil

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I believe that I see the point you are making in your article. Tennessee [and therefore other states I must presume] should accept all the refugees that wish to settle specifically in the state, Including any relatives that want to come and join the settlers. It could be mom or dad or both or a whole family group. In the past this has sometimes resulted in 20+ additional refugees for one or two admitted. Its called chain migration.

I'm not going to present any kind of mathematical equation here but let's suppose we accept a refugee family of husband, wife, and two children [as an example]. Later that family wants to bring over as many parents as possible, sisters, brothers,cousins, nephews, etc., etc. Does anyone else see how this influx could overwhelm a state in a relatively short period of time? 

The immigrants that first came to America came here with only one promise--Freedom. There were no guarantees of assistance like the U.S. provides today. Virtually all of Central America and most of South America have voiced their desire to come to America to escape persecution or violence, or poverty to some degree. Those numbers of people alone would cripple the American economy no matter where they settled in the U.S.

A sponge can only absorb a certain amount of water. The U.S. can only take in a portion of the millions who desire to come here. I don't agree with everything our politicians do, but America is at a point in history where we must strengthen ourselves, pay down some of our debt, take care of our veterans and homeless first, and carefully avoid being overwhelmed beyond our capacity to provide for the unfortunate of the world. 

The U.S. currently pours out billions annually to help foreign countries. One idea has been to establish safe resettlement areas within the refugees native countries where they can keep families together, speak the same languages, hold on to traditions, etc.

Teddy Ladd

* * *

Samir,

What you are describing is "chain migration", something the United States is trying to stop.  We have more folks from Honduras  and El Salvador than live in their own country.  The President is trying to protect the states/counties against an influx of immigrants that can crash the education/medical system of that zip.  I'm with him on that,  the more immigrants in a community the more education and medical facilities suffer and the cost goes up.  However, IF the host family wants to take complete responsibility for paying for translators in the schools, lunches and English mentors...if they want to pick up the full tab for any medical/dental issues, if they want to take responsibility for jobs and insurance and roofs over their heads...I'll be on the immigration side.

Talk to any educator and they will explain the stress that is put into the system when immigrant children enter the classroom.  I agree with the President 110 precent that it's time to take care of America first, I don't fully understand why some Americans don't want that. 

Obama's administration let the flood gates open with both legal/illegal immigration and we're still trying to recover from that.  If Hamilton County school system is having a tough time for over three years getting a football field tell me how "easy" it will be to educate a dozen non-English speaking students in their classrooms.  It's like dominoes, it just keeps stacking up and you've got folks just like yourself that only sees things through the eyes of the immigrant rather than the tax payer who is responsible for that immigrant.  No other country on this planet gives as much power and honor to the immigrant/ legal or illegal.  Illegal immigration's biggest enemy are legal immigrants who went through the process, they are madder than natural born citizens. 

If chain immigration is "changed", if the system doesn't bend to what cities and states can actually accomplish than one day America will be a third world country.  You think it can't happen but all it will take is the wrong socialist to get elected.  Look at Venezuela, not long ago the richest country in South America.  Citizens there are eating their pets now, viva socialism.

Sue White


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