Facts and good sense managed to beat back the one ugly outburst of anti-refugee paranoia that cropped up in this year’s Legislative Session. Now I’m proud to hear my mayor, Mike Levsen, show that he knows inviting refugees into South Dakota is not just the humanitarian thing to do but the economically smart thing to do:
Aberdeen Mayor Mike Levsen says he’s in favor of more refugees coming to his city.
“We need workers, and we certainly would be glad to have more friends and neighbors and more children in our schools and more cultures that we can learn from,” Levsen says.
Levsen says growth can come with challenges, but also opportunities [Jenifer Jones, “Aberdeen Possible Direct Refugee Resettlement Site,” SDPB Radio, 2016.04.15].
Mayor Levsen responds to news that Lutheran Social Services is looking into the feasibility of making Aberdeen a primary resettlement community—i.e., the first place some refugees would land to begin their new lives of safety and freedom and America. Mayor Levsen’s open arms fit with past policy statements from Aberdeen leaders in favor of tapping immigrants to fill Aberdeen’s workforce needs. Mayor Levsen’s comments also sound a whole lot better, braver, and American than some of the xenophobic ranting that the Republicans of this state have coughed up.
Mayor Levsen models the sort of pragmatic humanitarianism that makes South Dakota a place refugees and all other immigrants could call home. Now there’s a Mayor Mike I can stand to see run for Governor.