Groups involved with the resettlement of refugees in Montana tried to answer questions and clear up misconceptions about resettlement plans in Missoula last night at the University of Montana.
Mary Poole is the head of the pro-refugee group Soft Landing Missoula.
“People are right to ask about how can we do our best to keep our country safe," Poole says. "People are right to ask about cities that have had more success and cities that have had less success of integrating refugees.”
Molly Short Carr is head of the non-profit International Rescue Committee Missoula, which has resettled six families from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Missoula since August. She says five of the six families have at least one family member already working.
Short Carr said the refugee resettlement is funded with federal tax dollars, but added that refugees pay back into the tax system when they start working. Refugees are also expected to repay the government for a portion of their resettlement expenses.
“You may pay a portion of your taxes," says Short Carr. ".0002 percent of your taxes may go to the cost of refugee resettlement, but that’s also .0002 percent of my taxes going towards refugee resettlement. There are programs that I don’t agree to, but I still pay into it because as an American it’s my responsibility to contribute in all ways.”
The IRC intends to resettle up to 150 more refugees in Missoula next year, including from war-torn countries like Syria and Iraq. Critics say the refugee vetting process isn’t stringent enough and radical Islamists from these countries could be admitted to the U.S.
Short Carr said five federal agencies vet refugees and that the process can take up to three years because it’s so thorough.
About 150 people came to the presentation; no one protested the event.