WATERFORD (WWJ) – While some call it bigoted and embarrassing, a resolution has been passed to stop refugees from war-torn Syria from settling in Waterford Township.
The resolution, which has been pushed by the Oakland County Association of Township Supervisors, states that the federal Refugee Resettlement Program creates significant financial burdens for communities to meet the needs of the refugees.
It reads, in part, “The FBI and other homeland security agencies have testified before Congress that refugees from failed states such as Syria cannot be adequately vetted to ensure that they do not have terrorist ties because the necessary records do not exist,” adding, “…The Charter Township of Waterford will not actively participate in the Refugee Resettlement Program until the Program has been significantly reformed, and until it has been demonstrated that the Townships of Oakland County have the capacity to absorb refugees without diverting funds from needy residents or exposing their residents to unwarranted security risks.” [Read the complete text].
It’s not a ban for life, according to Supervisor Gary Wall, but rather a pause to ask the federal government to correct its vetting process.
Support for the resolution is decidedly split, according WWJ’s Jason Scott, with residents speaking both for and against the it at a meeting at Township Hall on Monday.
One man, who didn’t give his name, is concerned about resources.
“We’ve got so many people who need jobs in Waterford, what are you gonna do with the refugees that come in here? You’re gonna feed them, you’re gonna clothe them, you’re gonna house them,” he said. “We can’t afford that; we’ve got veterans that need help.”
Resident Scott Hancock called the resolution bigoted.”I’ve lived here my entire life. I’ve never been embarrassed to be a Waterford citizen until I saw this resolution,” he said.
Resident John Nagle agreed, calling it a “fear-based” resolution.
“That doesn’t really line up the greatest values of our nation as well as of our community. I’m not sure why we can’t have a resolution that can be both welcoming and secure at the same time for the safety of its people,” Nagle said.
This resolution, which passed unanimously, is largely symbolic — serving as a way for townships to make their position clear to decision makers in Washington DC.
The refugee Resettlement Program is not optional, with President Obama calling for the resettling of at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the U.S. this fiscal year.
As of last month, data from the U.S. Department of State’s Worldwide Refugee Admissions Processing System showed that Michigan was second only behind California, resettling 1,374 Syrian refugees so far this year.
Federal officials, meantime, maintain that refugees vetting is thorough.