Battleground Wisconsin: Swing state locked in clash over Somali refugee resettlement

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Wisconsin – a awesome battleground successful nan 2024 presidential election – is presently a battleground complete a exile resettlement controversy. 

Wisconsin officials person sought to meet pinch officials from nan Department of Homeland Security astir nan first group of Somali refugees to settee successful nan Eau Claire County area of nan state. The rumor has moreover garnered liking from members of Congress. 

State legislators are group this week to beforehand a measure requiring greater transparency connected resettlement decisions. Federal rule already requires national officials to "consult regularly (not little often than quarterly) pinch authorities and section governments" earlier settling nan refugees to an area. The state legislation would specifically require consulting pinch "elected officials" accountable to nan nationalist – alternatively than conscionable appointed officials – arsenic good arsenic a request for nationalist comment. 

State Rep. Karen Hurd, a Republican, introduced nan bill, and noted nan area is already stressed aft nan closure of 2 hospitals and strained schoolhouse districts.

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"Wisconsin citizens are nan astir generous, giving, kind, and applicable people. This is not astir that. This is because we didn’t moreover know," Hurd told Fox News Digital. "We are practical. We request to measure whether we tin do this aliases not. We don’t attraction astir nan colour of someone’s skin. This is astir infrastructure."

Hurd said she expects nan Republican-controlled legislature will walk nan measure but is uncertain astir what Democratic Gov. Tony Evers will do erstwhile it lands connected his desk. 

The DHS is moving pinch World Relief, a Christian nonprofit associated pinch nan National Association of Evangelicals, to bring 75 Somalian refugees to nan Eau Claire area successful nan Chippewa Valley by Sept. 30. Some residents, lawmakers and defense groups are concerned nan national family reunification argumentation could lead to a overmuch larger influx of refugees.

Wisconsin’s neighboring Minnesota Somali exile settlements ballooned into millions wrong 2 decades, noted Restoration of America, which first reported nan Wisconsin issue. Minneapolis, located astir 100 miles from Eau Claire, has nan nation’s largest Somali population. The FBI reported successful 2019 that dozens of military-aged men successful nan metropolis joined violent organizations.

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"The exile resettlement scheme won’t extremity pinch 75 Somalis, but perchance thousands, arsenic each exile will later beryllium permitted to import adjacent and extended family members – deliberation cousins and grandparents – to Wisconsin nether national family reunification policy," Hayden Ludwig, head of argumentation investigation for Restoration of America, told Fox News Digital.

"In conscionable a fewer years, locals could find their communities, schools, and emergency services swamped pinch refugees from grounded countries, apt including Syria – though moreover World Relief officials won’t show america from which," Ludwig said. 

Hurd said Eau Claire City Manager Stephanie Hirsch, an appointed official, made nan woody pinch World Relief for nan resettlement without consulting nan elected Eau Claire County Board. Eau Claire County and nan City of Eau Claire person abstracted governments. Hurd said nan county, schoolhouse districts and emergency services will enarthrosis nan costs.

Hirsch told Wisconsin Public Radio she notified members of nan Eau Claire City Council, and that "it wasn’t nan benignant of point that required a general process astatine all."

World Relief Wisconsin did not instantly respond to an enquiry for this story. But it posted a "frequently asked questions" astir nan planned refugee resettlement connected its website that says nan 75 refugees includes 15-20 family units. The FAQ says DHS thoroughly vets each refugees, and further contends they are a semipermanent nett economical use for communities. 

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Under nan question, "What countries will nan refugees resettled to nan Chippewa Valley beryllium from?" nan statement answers: "We do not cognize pinch certainty which countries nan refugees resettled to nan Chippewa Valley will beryllium from, but nan apical 2 countries of root for refugees resettled to Wisconsin past twelvemonth were Burma and nan Democratic Republic of Congo. More than 80% of refugees resettled to Wisconsin successful Fiscal Year 2023 came from 1 of these 2 countries, and we expect receiving individuals and families from these 2 countries successful nan coming year."

Two GOP members of Wisconsin’s legislature delegation, Reps. Tom Tiffany and Derrick Van Orden, besides weighed in. 

In an October missive to Eau Claire City Council President Emily Berge, Tiffany complained nan organization was "kept successful nan dark" astir nan matter. 

Tiffany’s missive said Eau Claire and nan Chippewa Valley taxpayers should person nan chance to taxable nationalist remark astir a "large number of refugees – perchance from Somalia, Syria and different unstable countries." 

"Even much frustrating, representatives of this NGO reportedly met pinch nan metropolis head good successful beforehand of this announcement – but nan metropolis head did not stock this accusation pinch section officials aliases nan public," Tiffany wrote. He later added, "Given nan vulnerable conditions successful these countries, and nan Biden administration’s alarming way grounds erstwhile it comes to vetting newcomers, it is inconceivable that nan section organization would beryllium kept successful nan acheronian successful this way. I dream you will analyse these troubling allegations and return due action." 

Replying to Tiffany’s letter, Berge wrote "immigrants are a portion of nan Eau Claire story," and accused Tiffany of not knowing nan national exile law. 

"World Relief has held a number of nationalist meetings," Berge’s missive says. "The Refugee Act requires U.S. agencies to consult and coordinate pinch authorities and section authorities and to financially support resettlement. This has happened and is ongoing successful a transparent manner," Berge said exile resettlement is simply a federal, not local, responsibility. 

"It is nan work of nan U.S. authorities to safely and decently locate, integrate, and support immigrants successful communities specified arsenic Eau Claire," Berge wrote. 

"As a personnel of Congress, Congressman Tiffany is simply a portion of nan U.S. government. We expect and trust connected him to do that work. Communicating to nan nationalist successful a measurement that demonstrates knowledge, embraces one’s ain responsibilities, and links those actions to our shared values, furthers trust." In November, Van Orden said he had conversations pinch Berge, World Relief, and nan State Department astir nan vetting of nan refugees.  

"To guarantee nan information of nan citizens of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and nan nation, I person urged nan Department of State to supply maine pinch a elaborate study of nan vetting procedures they person conducted, including who these individuals are, archiving that nan due inquiries and investigations for exile resettlement were thoroughly conducted, arsenic good arsenic nan accusation that was available, collected, and considered connected each individual," Van Orden said successful a statement.