Polls indicate that most Americans oppose importing thousands of Syrian refugees in particular, and more immigrants in general. So naturally, in his first important act as House Speaker, Paul Ryan is reported to be rushing to the floor, as early as tomorrow, a bill that will insure that President Obama gets his way on the issue.
The legislation the House will vote on is called the American SAFE Act. It is a misnomer and the bill is, frankly, a fraud. It is premised on the idea that the Obama administration will be able to identify potential terrorists among Syrians who claim to be refugees, a claim that everyone knows is false. Jeff Sessions explains:
It is based on a flawed premise, as there is simply no way to vet Syrian refugees. Just over a month ago, officials from the Department of Homeland Security admitted before the Immigration Subcommittee that there is no database in Syria against which they can run a check. They have no way to enter Syria to verify the applicants’ personal information. And we know the region is being flooded with false documents. …
With respect to Syria and Iraq, the American SAFE Act requires only that the President direct his Secretary of Homeland Security, Director of National Intelligence, and FBI Director (all his appointees) to sign off on the administration’s screening process – a process that the White House continually asserts is adequate and “ensures safety.” The plain fact is that this bill transfers the prerogative from Congress to President Obama and ensures the President’s refugee resettlement initiative will continue unabated.
The only means Congress has to block Obama’s importation of more Middle Eastern immigrants is the power of the purse. Senator Sessions says:
There is only one true check now against the President going it alone: Congressional funding. In his annual budget request, the President asked for more than $1 billion to fund the Refugee Admissions Program. All Congress has to do is make clear that the President’s funding request will not be granted unless he meets certain necessary Congressional requirements – the first of which should be to make clear that Congress, not the President, has the final say on how many refugees are brought into the United States and from where.
The consequences of importing tens of thousands of refugees are far-reaching:
As currently structured, the House plan would give the President the money he wants for refugee resettlement and then leave taxpayers on the hook now and in the years to come for the tens of billions of dollars in uncapped welfare, education, and entitlement costs certain to accrue. Thus, in addition to the enormous welfare costs – 91% of recent Middle Eastern refugees are on food stamps and 73% receive free healthcare – we will also be taking money directly from Americans’ Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds to provide retirement benefits for refugees. The real costs of this refugee expansion has not even been ascertained.
A recent analysis finds that admitting 10,000 refugees to the United States presents a net lifetime cost to taxpayers of $6.5 billion, meaning that under the current plan to admit 85,000 refugees this fiscal year, taxpayers will be on the hook for $55 billion. For the cost of resettling one refugee in America, we could successfully resettle 12 refugees in the region. Creating safe-zones in Syria and the region is a vastly more effective and compassionate strategy. Such a proposal recently was put forth by former Secretary of Defense Gates and General Petraeus, among others.
Further, as Rand Paul noted today, we don’t have the tens or hundreds of billions of dollars that Obama’s new immigration influx (on top of already unprecedented levels of immigration) will cost. We are borrowing $1 million a minute. The American SAFE Act is a terrible bill, and the fact that Paul Ryan is apparently willing to speed it through the House before voters notice is a very bad sign.