Hawaii Senate Minority Opposes Resettlement of Syrian Refugees in Hawaii
News Release from Office of Senator Sam Slom, November 17, 2015
HONOLULU — Governor David Ige yesterday announced his support of President Obama's continued commitment to the resettlement of 10,000 Syrian refugees throughout the United States over the next fiscal year.
Today, Senator Sam Slom wrote a letter to Governor Ige, urging him to reconsider his position in light of the scarcity of state resources like housing, the tragic events that unfolded in Paris, and security concerns voiced by Hawaii residents, other state Governors, and U.S. military and law enforcement officials.
"Like you, I celebrate Hawaii's unique Aloha Spirit, openness and sense of welcome. However, there are limits and practical realities to every stated policy," Senator Slom wrote. "I appreciate your comments on safety being your primary concern, but I don't believe that actual events protect or guarantee that safety- or security- in light of recent events in Paris and elsewhere."
Senator Slom is also concerned about the fiscal burden on the state to carry out President Obama's policy. Senator Slom says, "Hawaii is already short on critical resources like housing. Just take a look at our homeless situation, look at how hard it is to find affordable rent, look at the Department of Health and the Department of Human Services and the work they've taken on with the COFA immigrants. We can be compassionate, we can extend the Aloha Spirit, but it is important to also be realistic and pragmatic with our state resources."
One notable critic of the U.S. resettlement policy is Michael T. McCaul, Chairman of the Congressional Committee on Homeland Security. McCaul wrote to President Obama yesterday, stating that his committee remains "concerned that these resettlements are taking place without appropriate regard for the safety of the American people." McCaul's letter continues, "Leaders from the FBI, National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have repeatedly indicated to my Committee that we lack the on-the-ground intelligence necessary to thoroughly vet Syrian refugees seeking to resettle here."
To date, 30 governors across the country have called for a halt in US resettlement of Syrian refugees.
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PDF: Letter to Gov. Ige
About the Hawaii Senate Minority
Senator Samuel M. Slom has represented Hawaii’s 9th senatorial district since 1996. The lone Republican in the Hawaii State Senate, Slom is presently the only single-member caucus in any legislature in the United States. Slom serves on all Senate committees, sub-committees and special committees, is minority leader and floor leader, and is Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Environment and Technology. For further information on Senator Slom and the Hawaii Senate Minority, visit www.hawaii-senateminority.com.
 Governor David Ige's statement on Syrian refugees, released November 16, 2015. Available at http://governor.hawaii.gov/newsroom/governor-david-iges-statement-on-syrian-refugees/
 Letter from Michael T. McCaul to President Obama, dated November 16, 2015. Available at https://homeland.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Chairman_McCaul_Syrian_Refugees-to-the-US.pdf
 Seipel, Arnie. "30 Governors Call for Halt to U.S. Resettlement of Syrian Refugees." NPR.org. Available at http://www.npr.org/2015/11/17/456336432/more-governors-oppose-u-s-resettlement-of-syrian-refugees
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Charity Begins at Home
The recent terrorist attacks in Paris reminds us of the 9/11 attacks we suffered in 2001. We along with the rest of the world mourn this tragedy. As the investigation of this incident evolves, we have learned that one of the terrorists involved in the Paris attack migrated to France as a refugee from Syria. As a result of this fact, Americans question the vetting process of our country’s acceptance of Syrian refugees. Knowing that, at least 27 state governors have declared their borders closed to Syrian refugees. Through my experience as Lieutenant Governor, I know for a fact that for these Governors, their primary concern was the health, safety, and welfare of their residents.
It was so disheartening to hear that Governor Ige immediately issued a statement that he would welcome Syrian refugees with Aloha. There apparently was no consideration of the health, safety, and welfare of Hawai’i’s residents. If there was any consideration, Governor Ige would have noted that he just declared a “state of emergency” for our homeless. He would have also noted that we lack affordable rentals and housing for a significant portion of our residents. He would have also noted that many of our residents are just one paycheck away from being homeless. He would have also noted that many of our residents are unemployed and for those who are employed, most do not earn a livable wage. He would have also noted that we lead the country with the highest cost of living. He would have also noted that he declared this past January that no matter what we do, our state expenses will exceed our revenues. He would have also assured the people of Hawai’i that they would be safe from the infiltration of any terrorist posing as a Syrian refugee.
In light of these undisputed facts, Governor Ige cannot justify how the acceptance of Syrian refugees is in the best interest of the health, safety, and welfare of the people of Hawai’i! I have heard from so many of my kupuna, “charity begins at home.”
Aloha Ke Akua,
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HAWAII GOP TO GOV. IGE: TAKE CARE OF HAWAII HOMELESS BEFORE TAKING CARE OF SYRIAN REFUGEES
News Release from Hawaii Republican Party
HONOLULU (November 17, 2015) –The Hawaii Republican Party issued a statement following the announcement by Gov. David Ige that Hawaii would accept Syrian refugees:
"We feel sympathy for the refugees coming from Syria and the Middle East, but Hawaii is still grappling with a homeless crisis that has yet to be resolved by our local politicians," stated Fritz Rohlfing, Hawaii GOP Chair. "Gov. Ige and Hawaii Democrats are simply wrong to agree to further burden our community's already over-taxed social safety net with Syrian refugees we can't handle at this time. Furthermore, the lack of security assurance about the backgrounds and intentions of some of these refugees puts Hawaii residents and visitors at risk.
Hawaii Republicans agree with House Speaker Paul Ryan's statement today saying: "Our nation has always been welcoming, but we cannot let terrorists take advantage of our compassion."
The Hawaii Republican Party applauds those governors across the country, such as New Hampshire Democrat Gov. Maggie Hassan, who recognize that dealing with the Syrian refugee crisis is something that their state governments are not equipped to handle at this time.
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Rep McDermott Letter to Governor David Ige
Dear Gov. Ige, November 18, 2015
I find your decision to allow Syrian refugees particularly troubling because you have no idea about the nature of these people being sent to us. You stated that your number one priority is keeping the people of Hawaii safe, but that is at odds with your ill-advised decision to accept these refugees without knowing all the facts. Clearly you do not.
The President wants us to believe these refugees are mostly women and children fleeing war in Syria. However, United Nations evaluations show the refugee population to be primary military age males (about 60%), and Syria accounts for only half. Others from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Somalia, and other Muslim countries engaged in active violence comprise the rest.
You said they will go through the most rigorous of screening processes, but that statement is farcical in nature. First of all, Syria is a war torn country that has been engaged in a civil war for several years. I can assure you that the Syrian government is not maintaining a database on citizens who would be "good refugees” for the United States to receive. The situation over there is utter chaos. We cannot rely on them for good information especially life and death information. In fact, the Director of the FBI said as much last month:
The issue of security checks on refugees was called into question by FBI Director James Comey in October when he told a House committee that checking refugees against a database won't do anything if the U.S. doesn't have any data on these refugees. "And so if someone has never made a ripple in the pond in Syria in a way that would get their identity or their interest reflected in our database, we can query our database until the cows come home, but there will be nothing showing up because we have no record of them," Comey said.
Do you and your administration have more knowledge about this issue than the FBI director? In any event, I will remind you that at least one of the terrorists who attacked France last week was posing as a refugee and completed various background checks; these checks under the best of circumstance are not 100% effective. So then why proceed if your number one concern is the safety of the people of Hawaii?
I would also remind you that the Tsarnaev brothers, refugees from Chechnya, repaid the kindness of this country by bombing the Boston Marathon and killing innocent Americans. That family passed its “screening” for immigration.
Let's assume we take in 2,000 refugees, and 1% of those become terrorists (or are already trained ISIS fighters). We now have 20 young men running around Oahu targeting some very soft military/civilian targets that are all unsecured and open to the public. It takes one, just one, with a backpack full of fertilizer to kill many people. As was recently proven, one bomb inside a soda can smuggled onto an airplane can cripple a visitor industry.
David, do I need to mention the homelessness situation? Where are we going to put these non-English speaking people who most likely lack the job skills for gainful employment? We are currently overwhelmed with the homeless and the Micronesians with our resources being stretched beyond breaking point.
Once again, a Hawaii governor has dutifully complied with the liberal policies of our President to the detriment of our citizens. He has unilaterally stated what, in his opinion, his actions represent the will of Hawaii’s people without bothering to ask them. Where is your aloha for your own citizens?
With now over 30 states refusing to comply with President Obama’s mandate that we accommodate wave after wave of Muslim refugees, Hawaii is finding itself in a growing minority and could be flooded with those rejected by other states. It would seem important to me to look at the attitude of those people you intend to import.
A couple of days ago a Turkish soccer stadium booed a request for a moment of silence for the dead in Paris, instead they then began to chant Allahu Akbar.
You tout mutual respect. However a large percentage of the Muslim population will NEVER respect our religions or our American freedoms. This creates a sub-culture or enclave that spawns terrorists.
What do Middle Eastern Muslims (like the Syrian refugees) actually think; and more importantly, has living in a western culture changed their basic beliefs:
- 51% of Pakistanis grieve the death of Osama Bin Laden
- 62% of British Muslims do not believe in the protection of free speech
- 18% of British Muslims would be proud or indifferent if a family member joined al-Qaeda
- 61% of Egyptians approve attacks on Americans
- 24% of Muslim-Americans say that violence is justified against those who “offend Islam.”
- 25% of Muslims in UK think terrorist suicide bombing is justified
- American Muslims who identify strongly with their religion are 3 times more likely to believe suicide bombing is justified
- 18% of Muslim students in Britain would not report a fellow Muslim planning as terrorist attack.
- 45% of British Muslims agree that clerics preaching violence against the west represents “mainstream Islam.”
- 25% of Muslim-Americans say that violence against Americans in the United States is justified as part of global Jihad.
- 38.6 of Muslims believe 9/11 (attack on World Trade Center) was justified
- 49% of Muslim-Americans say they are “Muslim first,” American second.
I would suggest that you tell the President to move them to Saudi Arabia, or Kuwait. Unfortunately they do not want them precisely because of the aforementioned dangers I cited. Cloaking this obviously political decision as “tolerance and aloha” ignores the facts that more than likely potential terrorists will be hidden among these refugees.
The blood from any attack will be on your hands. Are you willing to publically accept full responsibility?
With much Aloha,