By Shea Johnson, Staff Writer
Posted: Oct 20, 2016 at 5:29 PM
Updated: Oct 20, 2016 at 5:29 PM
First District Supervisor candidate Angela Valles has condemned the “dumping” of Syrian refugees into Victorville, saying she would sue the federal government and seek to cut off refugee welfare benefits after it was discovered 23 Syrian immigrants have resettled in the city this year.
Valles also accused her opponent, San Bernardino County Supervisor Robert Lovingood, of being “either oblivious to the placement of unvetted Syrian refugees in our community” or actively covering it up. A campaign statement she released Tuesday said that the federal government was required to consult with local jurisdictions before settling refugees, citing a hard-line immigration reform group as its source of this premise.
Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is described as an extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, with leaders who “have ties to white supremacist groups and eugenicists and have made many racist statements.”
Valles, a Hispanic, said that Tuesday’s statement came from her campaign office and that “I don’t support (the extremism FAIR is accused of) whatsoever,” but she added that the broader issue of refugee resettlement deserved to be reviewed, particularly amid a terrorism threat and when local leaders have emphasized public safety as staples of their platforms.
“All I’m saying is we should be made aware of this,” she said.
Lovingood fired back Thursday, calling into question Valles’ judgment and grasp of the supervisor’s role.
“I would like to add clarity to the fact that the responsibility of the position I hold is just to serve the constituents,” Lovingood said, “and when an individual has a misunderstanding of what the responsibilities are of the office they seek and, really, is willing to say anything to grab a headline, I think that explains my opponent.”
The revelation that 23 Syrian refugees re-settled in Victorville this year, according to the Refugee Processing Center, was first reported by Valles’ campaign. She said she believed “America comes first” and that any aid provided to refugees should be confined to occurring within their own country — not here — as to not “jeopardize” locals.
But Valles’ highly publicized broach of this issue has been met by a staunch rejection of her premise.
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