Brian Babin Proposes to Suspend Refugee Resettlement

Image Source On July 29th Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives proposing to “suspend the admission into the United States of refugees in order to examine the costs of providing benefits to such individuals, and for other purposes.” The entire text of the bill (H.R. 3314) can be found at congress.gov.

This bill, known as the Resettlement Accountability National Security Act of 2015, does not seem to have generated much attention or interest from the press or the general public. According to govtrack.us, an independent website that tracks bills in Congress, H.R. 3314 has a 1% chance of being enacted. The few articles that discuss the bill are all in support of it (examples here, here and here). No one has taken the time to review the reasons for opposing it. Given the probability of its enactment, perhaps the opposition decided not to waste their time. Nonetheless, it is vital to explain the stupidity of this bill.

  1. The infeasible nature of the bill distracts from legitimate weaknesses within the refugee resettlement program.

The objective of this legislation is to review the cost incurred by welcoming refugees into the U.S. and to then decide what changes should be made before reopening the borders to refugees. The bill lists the statistics that would be researched in five different government programs (Medicare, Medicaid, disability insurance, food stamps, and rental assistance). It is absolutely infeasible that Congress would consider completely suspending refugee resettlement until this research was completed. The 1% chance of enactment is proof of its infeasible nature.

The extreme demands of this bill distract from a legitimate concern, namely, that the refugee resettlement program has not been held financially accountable and that the statistics and numbers requested by the bill are not immediately accessible. If this bill had instead proposed that this research be conducted without completely halting the program, perhaps it would have a greater likelihood of being passed.

  1. The deceptive wording of the bill obscures supporters’ true motive.

The objective statement of the bill ends with the phrase “and for other purposes.” However, these other purposes are never expounded upon in the body of the bill. When reading press statements from the bill’s author and presenter himself, it becomes clear what those other purposes are. In fact, the financial accountability purpose seems to simply be a cover for its supporters’ true motive. That motive is steeped in right-wing conservative misconceptions of Muslim immigrants to America. This article is a chilling textbook example of this kind of thinking. Supporters of H.R. 3314 believe that by stopping all refugee resettlement they can somehow protect America from the perceived evils of Islam.

These misconceptions most often spring from ignorance, fear, and a lack of personal experience with the refugee community in the U.S. I, for example, generally vote Republican and consider myself a serious Christian of the fairly conservative sort and yet the relationships I have developed with dozens of refugees from Somalia, Pakistan, and Iraq through volunteer work with resettlement programs make it impossible for me to accept what these articles espouse about my Muslim refugee friends.

  1. The over generalization of supporters shamefully paints all refugees as terrorists or potential terrorists.

Those who support this bill (based on the articles available) paint over generalized pictures of refugees as terrorists or potential terrorists. They tend to believe that all refugees who are resettled desire to turn America into a fundamental Islamic society. In actuality, of the thousands of Muslim refugees who have been resettled in the U.S., less than one percent have reverted to involvement in terrorist activity, either in the U.S. or other countries.

While no system is perfect and there is a risk of introducing a future terrorist into the U.S. through the refugee resettlement program, that risk is extremely low. Furthermore, that risk does not come close to outweighing the benefits of the resettlement program to thousands of refugees who desperately need assistance. The UN and U.S. State Department conduct a number of rigorous interviews, background checks, and tests before giving a refugee clearance to resettle. For more information about the resettlement process, see these FAQs. Only 1% of refugees in need are ever resettled in a third country. The rest will most likely live and die in a refugee camp without the opportunity to ever return to their homes. Let that reality sink in before too quickly advocating for the U.S. to completely suspend her resettlement program.

This article, unlike others, will not end with a plea to call your representative and oppose this bill; it won’t pass anyway. However, please think critically and logically before agreeing with the emotionally charged rhetoric of my fellow conservatives. Before solidifying your views on major political issues like immigration or refugee resettlement, perhaps it would be wise to make friends with an immigrant or refugee to better understand the effect a bill like Brian Babin’s would have on them.