Are Refugees Coming To Charleston?
October 1, 2015
By John Steinberger | Contributing Writer
The official crest of the United States has the Latin phrase E Pluribus Unum, which translates as “From many (there is) one.” It reflects the centuries-old American principle that our nation is a melting pot with residents who came here from all over the world and adopted our language and culture and respected our laws and way of life.
The 1st Amendment to our Constitution protects religious liberty. Our code of law prevents discrimination against anyone based on age, creed, color, or national origin. That said, until recent decades our immigrants have always learned English and assimilated into the American culture.
Most readers have seen the TV images of Arabs (mostly young men) trying to cross into European countries. Overwhelmed by the number of refugees, Hungary erected a border fence and even deployed tear gas and water cannons to prevent refugees from crossing its border with Serbia.
Secretary of State John Kerry recently declared that the United States intends to take in nearly 200,000 Arab refugees during the next two fiscal years, although no budget has been passed by Congress providing funding. Of concern to many is that officials from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) have said that it is not possible to do background checks on the refugees.
Among the concerns about the refugees is whether they are affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has killed or displaced millions in the Middle East and confiscated or destroyed millions of properties. ISIS began as a militia fighting Syrian dictator Bashir Asad and then went into Iraq after the U.S. evacuated most of its military forces there. ISIS has a stated goal of establishing Islamic (or Sharia) law throughout the world.
The refugee crisis is no longer just something we observe on TV, it is now getting much closer to home. The State Department has already relocated 30 Arab refugees to Spartanburg County. The sponsoring group is called World Relief, which gets $40 million in annual federal funding.
A new Facebook group called Secure South Carolina wrote, “Refugee settlement is profitable to the organizations involved in it. They receive money from the federal government for each refugee they sponsor ($1850 per person).” The page notes that sponsor groups bear no financial obligation for the care and feeding of the refugees and that they only have to verify their whereabouts for 4 months.
Upstate political activist Diane Hardy expressed sympathy for the plight of the refugees but noted that state and local governments need time to plan for the number of refugees and the expenses they will incur. She wrote, “There is a stunning lack of planning regarding future expenses for health care, education, etc.” I think that the groups which sponsor the refugees should be financially liable to care for them.
The Spartanburg County Republican Party passed a resolution last week urging the Spartanburg County Council to send a letter to the U.S. State Department asking it to cease and desist on the refugee program until it can conduct background checks and provide more details on the financial obligations incurred by local governments. The author of the resolution, Michelle Wiles, has an interesting perspective – she grew up in Dearborn, MI.
Dearborn took in Iraqi and Syrian refugees during the First Gulf War in 1991, when the U.S. led a coalition of nations to drive Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s forces out of Kuwait. In the ensuing years, the refugee population became increasingly hostile and attacked native residents. They blast the 5-daily Islamic calls to prayer throughout the town on loud speakers. Michelle and her young family fled Dearborn and relocated to Upstate South Carolina.
Rep. Chip Limehouse has legislation which would prevent South Carolina courts from recognizing Sharia Law (H-3521). All immigrants and American citizens have a right to religious liberty, but they do not have the right to deny rights to others, commit acts of violence or ignore our laws.
The spirit of E Pluribus Unum remains. We embrace people from all cultures here but expect them to blend in. We have every right to know the background of those who come here, their nation of origin and their medical records. Charity sponsors should have financial and custodial obligations for all refugees. Please contact your County Council member (CharlestonCounty.org) and Gov. Haley’s office (803-734-2100) and let them know you expect safeguards in place before receiving refugees in our community.
John Steinberger is the former chairman of the Charleston County Republican Party, a leading Fair Tax advocate, and a West Ashley resident. He can be reached at John.firstname.lastname@example.org.