A Richland County man has filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the resettlement of refugees in South Carolina in order to protect the state from “criminals, narco-drug traffickers, terrorists, rapist(s)” and people “hostile to assimilation and the laws of South Carolina.”
The suit names as defendants Gov. Nikki Haley, the state Department of Social Services and two nonprofit agencies that help refugees start new lives in the state.
“The extraordinary and well founded potential for terrorism and other violent crime made possible by this inflow of Refugees from hostile Islamic states was simply not properly addressed in the State Plan,” Walter Brian Bilbro, the plaintiff, says in an affidavit in support of his motion for a temporary injunction or temporary restraining order against the state’s agreement with the federal government to allow refugees to resettle here.
In response to the lawsuit, the governor’s staff referred to a letter she wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry in the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks last November in which she asked that no Syrian refugees be allowed to resettle in South Carolina, “until I can be assured that all potential refugees from Syria have no ties to terrorist organizations.”
Ted Goins, president of Lutheran Services Carolinas, one of the defendants in the suit, said his organization has resettled a total of two Syrian refugees in the state, both in the Midlands.
Another family had been approved but their case was delayed, he said.
“We have not been informed that we will be getting any more,” Goins said.
Jason Lee, of World Relief in Spartanburg, a religious nonprofit that assists in refugee relocation, said his office hadn’t been served with the lawsuit. But he said the organization hasn’t resettled any Syrian refugees in South Carolina and has no plans to bring any in during 2016.
Those are the only two agencies contracted with the federal government to assist in resettling refugees, according to the State Department.
“Lutheran Services Carolinas has received a copy of that legal filing and we are analyzing that suit now,” Goins said. “On the face of it, it appears to be without merit, but we won’t be commenting further until we’ve had time to review it with our legal team.”
DSS spokeswoman Marilyn Matheus said, “The Department of Social Services has been served with the lawsuit regarding the refugee resettlement program. Our staff are reviewing the allegations and preparing a responsive pleading.
“We do not have any comment on the lawsuit at this time.”
In his affidavit, Bilbro describes himself as a 46-year-old, 1991 graduate of the University of South Carolina, married, with two young daughters.
“When I found out that agents of the non-profit Lutheran Services couldn’t legally share their religion or Judeo-Christian values or invite the refugees to church…I realized the high degree of negligence and reckless misrepresentations being perpetrated on me as a taxpayer, my family and the Public interest,” he wrote.
"I am bringing this action because I believe this exploitation of my constitutional rights as a citizen and the abuse of my daughters and my wife's rights are inevitable under the current plan, and therefore must cease immediately before it has reached the horrifying tipping point we are now witnessing in Europe," he wrote.
The lawsuit, filed by attorney Lauren Martel of Hilton Head, cites two cases filed by Ned Sloan of Greenville in asserting that Bilbro, as an individual, has legal standing to take the issue to court because of its “public importance.”
The lawsuit asks for a receiver to be appointed to oversee the funding of the refugee resettlement program in South Carolina and to stop the program until all funding can be accounted for.
“Allowing one case to come into South Carolina where a terror attack happens or his daughter or wife or neighbor got attacked as is happening in many other locations is Irreparable,” the lawsuit says.