First some of the background:
When the Obama administration raised the refugee admission quota for fiscal 2017 to 110,000, New Jersey, Maine, Kansas and Texas formally withdrew from the resettlement program.
Actually, this is a program states can never leave. A Clinton-era regulation prevents states from meaningfully withdrawing from the federal refugee resettlement program. If history is any guide, those states that left the program are getting more refugees now than they would have had they stayed in the program.
The only reason it is not evident is because the national quota for 2018 was lowered by the Trump administration to 45,000; the fiscal year will likely end with a number even smaller than that.
Reform the law while President Trump is in power, or else!
By law the president can zero out the quota altogether and a new president could increase it to 200,000 or higher. Before that happens, it may be wise to look at reforming the program.
At least one reform would fit in with the president’s goal of putting the federal government back into its proper constitutional role vis a vis the states.
The Refugee Act intended to insulate states from program costs. The bill’s Senate sponsor, Edward Kennedy, noted the program would “assure full and adequate federal support for refugee resettlement programs by authorizing permanent funding for state, local and volunteer agency projects.”
Unlike other legal immigrants, refugees are eligible for all federal welfare programs on the same basis as citizens upon arrival. (This is a lifetime entitlement for refugees who become citizens.)
Substantial costs have been purposely shifted to state taxpayers over the years.
Likely in response to rumblings from state governments about exiting the program, the Clinton administration promulgated regulation 45 CFR 400.301 in 1994 allowing resettlement contractors to continue operations in a state regardless of state objections. This arrangement allowed private contractors to operate independently with no input from state government. Regulatory fiat guaranteed that a state could never get out of the program or escape its fiscal impact on state revenues.
Prior to 45 CFR 400.301 the states were participating in and paying for a voluntary program from which they had every right to withdraw at any time with the expectation that no refugees would be resettled in the state.
Repeal it Donald! Repeal it!
Repeal of 45 CFR 400.301 would have the immediate effect of allowing states to withdraw from the U.S. refugee resettlement program.
It is the Tenth Amendment stupid! (Off topic, but don’t you think it’s riot that the state of California is pushing back against the US Justice Department on immigration using the States’ Rights provision of the Constitution!)
Barnett wraps up…..
Regulations can be repealed and they can be reissued. A judicial decision on the Tennessee lawsuit’s principle question on just how far the federal government can impose on a state’s control over its own resources is still needed and extends beyond the refugee resettlement program.
Come on DOJ, get moving on the Tennessee lawsuit, surely AG Sessions knows how significant this case is!
And, then as I intone on a regular basis—Where is Congress? The original Refugee Act of 1980 must be dumped and rewritten (if the voters want a rewrite). And, the window is open now while Trump is in office!
Forget the ‘humanitarian’ mumbo-jumbo….
I suspect it is the Republican leadership driven by the Chamber of Commerce and giant corporations that keep the law from ever being seriously reviewed by Congress.
Looking for something to do?
Contact the White House and tell the President that federal regulation 45 CFR 400.301 violates the Tenth Amendment and you want him to dump it. Tell him also to get moving with long term reform to the Refugee Act of 1980 that set up the present system of paying (on a per head basis) NGO contractors to place refugees in your towns without notice or discussion.