My opponent Representative Hicks claims to be opposed to refugee resettlement, but in the past has supported this potentially dangerous program. For obvious reasons we cannot allow this program to continue and it is unfortunate that she has not taken efforts to stop it. I am committed to protecting our state from the dangers of resettling Syrian refugees and here is why:
Resettling refugees into Spartanburg, or anywhere for that matter, presents a serious security risk. There have been numerous incidents in the United States and in Europe where Middle Eastern immigrants have perpetrated attacks. Just a few months ago, Jeh Johnson, the Secretary of Homeland Security said, “We do have to be concerned about the possibility that a terrorist organization may seek to exploit our refugee resettlement process. That’s true with this country and every other country that accepts refugees.”(1)
In addition, James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence said, “As they descend on Europe, one of the obvious issues that we worry about, and in turn as we bring refugees into this country, is exactly what’s their background? We don’t obviously put it past the likes of ISIL to infiltrate operatives among these refugees.”(2) This is especially concerning when you consider the fact that over 99% of the over a thousand refugees settled from Syria are Muslim.(3)
The problem is not immigration from established countries with reliable data on criminals. The problem is immigration from countries with no information. Here is a video of the Director of the FBI, James Comey testifying before congress verifying that the vetting process is unreliable:
We would expect our leaders to stand up and fight to protect us from these risks. After all, one of the foremost purposes of government is to “provide for the common defense.” Unfortunately, my opponent Representative Hicks did nothing to stop the refugee resettlement. To be fair, my opponent did speak with a lot of people and met with a lot of people. She was well informed and would have been in the best position to do something, but she neglected to do so. Here is an interview with the Spartanburg Herald Journal about her efforts:
Rep. Donna Hicks initially called for a town hall to solicit feedback about the plan, but she has put the gathering on hold now that details are coming forward. She said she has since met with organizers and state leaders and has received information to answer questions. “What I learned is that World Relief is working with Spartanburg County. They’re working on a system to make sure refugees are brought in and well taken care of,” Hicks said. She met with a World Relief leader who detailed plans for the program and learned how each refugee is funded through the state Department of Social Services, through federal grants, she said. Medical care was a concern for constituents, Hicks said, but said that refugees will be sent to the Middle Tyger River Community Center to use its free clinic and be cared for by interns with the Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System…
She said she is trusting in the program’s vetting process… “I’m trying to trust the process. We’ll just have to see.”(4)
It appears that my opponent has since changed her mind on the issue following public outcry and my efforts to expose her record. As it stands now though, dozens of refugees have been settled in the Upstate from other parts of the world.
There is no doubt that action must be taken to safeguard our state. We need to block any refugees coming into our state from Syria or other dangerous countries. We need to refuse funding for any state programs that are directly related to resettlement. If they are forced upon us, we need to inform law enforcement so that they are aware and can take precautions. Our state legislature needs to unite together, along with the Governor, and direct our delegation in DC to take action on our behalf on the national level. Finally, we need to explore options where we can assist these people in need through other means. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, we can help 61 Syrian refugees in safe countries in their region for the cost of resettling 1 in the United States.(5) We can help them in a much more efficient manner without putting our security at risk.