By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday, December 3, US Senators Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) and Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) joined Congress members Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) and Lamar Smith (R-Texas) in a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell demanding that the agency submit a report on Refugee Resettlement which is ten months overdue to the Congress.
Shelby and Sessions et al wrote, “Dear Secretary Burwell: It has come to our attention that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has failed to submit an annual report to Congress regarding the activities of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), in violation of federal law. Section 413(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended, requires the Secretary of HHS to submit an annual report to Congress ‘no later than the January 31 following the end of each fiscal year[.]’”
The members of Congress continued, “The FY2014 report – which was due no later than January 31 of this year – is still outstanding, and must be produced immediately. In its FY2016 ‘Justification of Estimates for Appropriations Committees,’ HHS requested over $1.6 billion for ORR. This request illustrates the exponential growth in ORR’s budget in recent years. Indeed, as recently as FY2012, ORR received $768,334,000 in funding – or less than half of what it currently seeks.”
Senators Sessions and Shelby and Rep. Blackburn and Smith wrote, “Our nation is presented with serious economic and security threats emanating from our refugee resettlement programs. Congress cannot, and must not, issue a blank check to ORR, especially at a time when the Administration is actively in defiance of federal law. We look forward to the immediate submission of ORR’s FY2014 Annual Report to Congress.”
The group wrote afterwards, “Our nation is presented with serious economic and security threats emanating from our refugee resettlement programs. Congress cannot, and must not, issue a blank check to [the office of Refugee Resettlement], especially at a time when the Administration is actively in defiance of federal law.”
On Wednesday, December 2 a Muslim couple attacked a Christmas Party in San Bernardino, California killing 14 and wounding 17. The casualties would have been much higher if a pipe bomb they threw into the crowd had actually detonated or if the police had set off one of the booby traps in the couple’s home. The wife was a recent immigrant. Senator Sessions has called for Congress to be given her immigration records.
On Wednesday, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley complained that the Obama administration has not shared documents that the state has requested about the thousands of refugees it is resettling in this country. Gov. Bentley said, “There should be no filter between the federal government and state governments, and especially between the President and Governors regarding an issue of such high importance as national security. As I expressed in my letter last week, Alabama has not received any refugee reports regarding any refugee of any national origin. I do not believe placing a filter such as NGA between the Administration and the Governor’s Office addresses this current problem, nor does it solve future concerns regarding the vetting process.”