The Obama administration’s pledge to absorb thousands more Syrian and other refugees could run headlong into resistance from state and local officials worried about whether their communities can handle the influx.
Federal officials announced last month they plan to take in at least 10,000 refugees from Syria over the next year, and a total of 100,000 refugees from around the world by 2017 — up from 70,000.
While Republicans on Capitol Hill have raised concerns about whether refugees from Syria will be adequately screened for terror ties, local officials are worried simply about whether they have the resources to take them.
“It’s a fiscal issue,” said Peter Steele, a spokesman for Maine Gov. Paul LePage. “You can only pay for what you can afford, and those funds should be going to the most needy citizens in our state.”
Refugees granted entrance to America often move around the country, tapping services and funds from local communities as they go. They get benefits ranging from food stamps to traditional welfare to housing to language classes. Refugees also receive over $1,800 per person in cash once in the U.S. (of which $750 goes to a resettlement agency contractor). (Read more from “Obama’s Refugee Resettlement Plan Could Stir Battle With States” HERE)