Ohio Republican Party Chairwoman Jane Timken wrote an error-riddled apologetics letter sent by email on Thursday to party members defending Gov. Mike DeWine’s refugee resettlement policy.
It is highly unusual for the chairman of a state’s Republican Party to defend the politically unpopular decision of the state’s governor. In most states, the chairman of the Republican Party focuses on building the party organization by raising money and focusing on getting out the vote at precinct level.
But in Ohio, apparently, the Republican Party chairwoman defines her primary objective as protecting the left flank of the sitting governor from grassroots opposition among the conservative base.
At a policy level, Timken’s defense was flat out wrong in a number ways.
Timken said, falsely: “Accusations that the federal government is letting dangerous individuals into the country through poor vetting are no longer accurate.”
Truth: The Ohio Star has reported that Gov. Mike DeWine’s decision to say yes to more refugees in Ohio would allow the federal government to resettle them from any country, including from an estimated 300 to 720 refugees from the Middle East that the government of Australia has refused to accept. Press reports indicate these refugees come from Sudan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq.
Because of the Australian government’s refusal to accept these refugees, many of whom reportedly have mental health issues, they have remained housed for several years in refugee camps on the Papua New Guinea island of Manus, and Nauru, a small island country more than 1,000 miles north of the coast of Australia. President Obama agreed to accept 1,250 of these refugees in 2016. Since then, 530 of these refugees have been resettled in the United States under the Trump administration.
Misleading Timken statement: “Much of the direct cost to help resettle refugees is paid by faith based groups, such as Catholic Charities, who do the resettlement work, as well as federal programs.”
Truth: No matter the state, refugee organizations make a lot of money from the government. In fact, as is well documented, the voluntary agencies, such as Catholic Charities, who resettle refugees in the states and localities selected by bureaucrats in the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration have historically been paid about $1 billion annually for their efforts, though that number has declined somewhat under the lower annual refugee resettlement levels authorized in the Trump administration.
The Tennessee Star in August 2018 reported that former Gov. Phil Bredesen, who was in office from 2003-2011, allowed an influx of refugees, which enriched Catholic Charities of Tennessee and other organizations.
By 2016, when refugee arrivals to Tennessee had peaked at 1,959, U.S. ORR funding to CCTN reached a high of over $11 million dollars making up over 56% of the agency’s income. Between TOR and CCTN’s own refugee resettlement operation, expenditures related to refugees dominated the budget.
U.S. ORR is the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement. CCTN is Catholic Charities of Tennessee. TOR is the Tennessee Office for Refugees.
Taxpayers fund refugee resettlement organizations, which make money from settling more refugees in areas, The Tennessee Star said.
Refugee contractors are dependent on taxpayer funding to operate their resettlement activities. Because the contractors are paid a fee for each refugee they resettle, increasing the number of refugees automatically increases the agency’s cash flow. For example, in 2011, when Catholic Charities of West Tennessee resettled a Somali mother and her eleven children in Memphis, the agency was paid a fee for twelve refugees.
A 2012 U.S. General Accounting Office report confirmed that this payment structure incentivizes resettlement contractors “to maintain or increase the number of refugees they resettle each year rather than allowing the number to decrease.”
False Timken statement: “An example of someone who would be able to seek refugee status would be a Christian in China who is being persecuted by the Chinese government for her religious beliefs.”
Truth: The U.S. State Department’s Refugee Processing Center’s website proves otherwise — Out of approximately 240,000 refugees resettled in the United States under the Refugee Admissions Program in five-plus fiscal years since 2015, only 118 were from China (see the first PDF below), and only seven of them were Christians–one in FY 2015, and six in FY 2016 (see the second PDF below). Notably, not a single refugee from China has been resettled in the United States so far in FY 2020, which began on October 1, 2019.
Only one refugee from China has been resettled in Ohio since FY 2015, and not a single refugee from China has been resettled in Ohio since FY 2017.
The Ohio Star in September 2018 reported how refugees are qualifying for Medicaid disability benefits even as many Ohioans wait for years to get enrolled.
Misleading Timken statement: “There are strategies designed to assimilate refugees quickly, including a requirement that they get a Green Card within one year. It is important we balance this longstanding policy of helping refugees with being good stewards of taxpayer dollars.”
Clarification: The Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services website provides a wealth of information about a wealth of services that are provided for years to refugees.
For five years after arrival, refugees are eligible for the following services:
•English language training
Refugees are also eligible for the following services beyond five years:
•translation & interpreter services
•citizenship & naturalization services
Misleading Timken statement: “Assimilated refugees are not taking jobs from job-seeking Ohioans.”
Clarification: That has not been the case in one other state, Tennessee.
The Tennessee Star story quoted above had this to say about refugees’ impact on jobs in that state:
“[T]he simple action of offering hundreds of job openings at the local chicken processing plant” according to former Shelbyville Times-Gazette reporter Brian Mosely, explains in part, what drew Somali refugees to his hometown. When Bredesen set up Tennessee to receive increasing numbers of refugees, it helped increase the supply of refugee workers.
The “big meat” industry like Tyson Foods welcomes the cheap legal labor offered by the refugee resettlement program. Bredesen showed his support for the Tyson Foods expansion, attending the June 2018, ground-breaking ceremony for the new plant in Humboldt. His Facebook post took credit for helping to bring companies like Tyson Foods to Tennessee.
According to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, “[d]uring Bredesen’s Tenure As Governor, The Unemployment Rate In Tennessee Increased From 5.1 Percent To 9.5 Percent.”
Timken’s letter follows in its entirety.
Some of you might have seen media stories this month highlighting Ohio’s decision to continue accepting refugees. I want you to know that I am supportive of Governor DeWine’s decision and applaud his continued collaboration with the Trump administration on this issue.
One of the many promises President Trump made when running for office in 2016 was that his administration would be more diligent in vetting refugees, asylum-seekers, and immigrants. President Trump has delivered on this promise and as a result, our country and our state have never been safer.
The federal program uses a different legal definition of refugee than the refugees we often see or hear about in the media. Refugees are not illegal or unlawful immigrants, but rather individuals who have gone through a lengthy, complex and careful vetting process before they can enter the country. The Trump administration has determined that they are truly deserving of refugee status, they are truly victims of oppression and that they are coming into the country lawfully. An example of someone who would be able to seek refugee status would be a Christian in China who is being persecuted by the Chinese government for her religious beliefs.
Let me be clear – illegal immigrants are not eligible for refugee resettlement to Ohio. This has been policy in America and Ohio for more than 70 years.
Much of the direct cost to help resettle refugees is paid by faith based groups, such as Catholic Charities, who do the resettlement work, as well as federal programs. There are strategies designed to assimilate refugees quickly, including a requirement that they get a Green Card within one year. It is important we balance this longstanding policy of helping refugees with being good stewards of taxpayer dollars.
Assimilated refugees are not taking jobs from job-seeking Ohioans. Right now, Ohio has more job opportunities than qualified job applicants. There are more than 154,000 jobs available on OhioMeansJobs.com. The DeWine-Husted administration is tackling this though workforce programs like Tech Cred and stronger partnerships with our local technical schools to better train workers and help fill jobs in Ohio.
Accusations that the federal government is letting dangerous individuals into the country through poor vetting are no longer accurate. President Trump’s administration approves every refugee resettled into Ohio, and the process is now very stringent. We can now be confident in how the federal government is vetting refugees.
As always, thank you for all that you do for our party and your communities and I hope that you find that having this dialogue is productive.
Chairman, Ohio Republican Party
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