Senate State Affairs Waters Down Legislative Refugee Ban, Now Just Wants Reports on Newcomers

Senate State Affairs showed a little good sense yesterday, transforming Senator Brock Greenfield’s ugly anti-refugee power grab. In Senate Bill 124, Senator Greenfield and a flock of fellow cranky Trumpy fearmongers originally sought to empower the Legislature to ban refugees from South Dakota. That plan wasn’t going to fly, So Senator Greenfield offered an amendment:

  1. SB 124 still repeals the Department of Social Services’ authority to enter into agreements with the federal government to resettle refugees, but as Greenfield noted, South Dakota is a “Wilson/Fish” state, meaning we have non-profit, non-governmental groups handle refugee resettlement. DSS’s authority is thus practically moot; SB 124’s repeal of that authority doesn’t keep refugees out.
  2. Instead of requiring Legislative approval for all refugee resettlement agreements, the amended SB 124 now requires private agencies working with direct arrival refugees to submit annual reports on the services they provide to refugees, which towns receive refugees, how many refugees come, the demographics (age, country of origin, sex) or refugees arriving, and any proposed changes to numbers of refugees expected. These annual reports are only required through 2020.

Borrowed and modified from Twitter, 2017.02.04. amendment brought some refugee lawyers and advocates around to testify in favor of the amended SB 124. They also explained the rigorous vetting process to which refugees must submit. Attorney Anna Kerner Anderson said that a refugee who acknowledges giving a cup of water to an ISIS fighter occupying her village may be denied admission as a supporter of terrorism. Immigration attorney Taneeza Islam noted that South Dakota is a top-five resettlement state because we need refugees to fill workforce needs. Islam said refugees and immigrants in general make up 3% of our workforce and contribute one billion dollars in purchasing power a year to South Dakota.

Misdod Mustapa said his family came to America from Somalia as political refugees. Mustapa’s family was self-sufficient, off all public assistance, within six months of arriving in Sioux Falls. He paid back his new country by serving four years in the Marines; both of his brothers went to college. “We come over here for the American Dream,” said Mustapa, “and once we do that, once we get the opportunity to do the American Dream, we only help build that to make it better.”

Sister Kathleen Bierne of the Presentation Sisters said she objected to the “tenor” and “restrictive tone” of the original bill. She said the general idea of keeping people out conflicts with the Presentation Sisters’ mission to be more welcoming. She found the amendment sufficient to alleviate her concerns.

Senate State Affairs supported SB 124 as amended unanimously, 8–0. Senator Al Novstrup was excused from this softening of the anti-refugee legislation that he sponsored, since he was busy losing the fight for his property tax increase over in Senate Taxation.

19 Responses to Senate State Affairs Waters Down Legislative Refugee Ban, Now Just Wants Reports on Newcomers

  1. Porter Lansing

    Hey, Greenfield and Novstrup! “Your hate has to wait.” I’ll bet Sister Kathleen could beat ’em both in an arm wrestling match … at the same time. ? ? ?

  2. Keep in mind that grudznick is not in favor of people moving to South Dakota from anywhere. Can one of you explain why the legislatures wanted to ban people from other countries but not people from other states? Or perhaps they were banning people from other states, too.

    If not, then a smart immigrant from another country would immigrate to a neighboring libbie-land, then simply move across the border like anybody else and why would anybody care?

    Also, what if a fellow who looked like an immigrant but who was born in, say, Iowa, simply decided he didn’t like the smell of Sioux City anymore and packed up his blue Dodge Ram and drove up the interstate to Sioux Falls, plunked down some cold hard cash and rented a fancy loft down there by the falls and moved in with his pregnant wife who had no job? How would people check and make sure he wasn’t an “immigrant?”

    Seems kind of silly.

  3. Porter Lansing

    You’ve won the internet, Grudz. No one should be able to move into SoDak until someone who already lives in SoDak dies. And … if the person who dies is a Native American, African American, Mexican American, Muslim or Asian, then only a half person can move in.

  4. mike from iowa

    I’d force my cat to move to South Dakota just to spite Grudz, but the cat insists Grudz be spayed and neutered first.

  5. Spaying and neutering an old man who doesn’t really need it anyway just because a cat wants it is probably cruel and a human rights organization. Wait, are not spaying and neutering the same thing? That’s just odd and strange.

  6. The main concern is we have several dozen or so refugees being relocated to South Dakota, without telling the state, the county or even the city who they or what is going on.

    Then there is an incident and law enforcement are caught completely unaware. (So much for community policing) There is way the community can prepare for them, or reach out to them to help the assimilate into our society.

    I guess giving the communities a courtesy ‘heads up.’ Is too much to ask

  7. Clara Hart

    Once a Refugee arrives into the USA e.g San Diego. He or she is free to move to another State to be near a family member. This is not Illegal. I was resettled in San Diego, after one year, I moved to South Dakota. When I moved to Sioux Falls I did not need the help from the Refugee Services as I got hired only two days after moving to Sioux Falls. I have been here ever since. I have not caused any problems and do not plan to. I am a proud SOUTH DAKOTAN. This year in May 20th I will celebrate my 30th Anniversary of my arrival to the USA.

  8. MC, why does the state need a heads up?

    Suppose 100 people decide to move to Sioux Falls. Do they need to check in with the state and with law enforcement to announce their arrival, or even their intent to move to Sioux Falls? Why?

  9. Clara Hart

    I personally find this Amended Bill insulting. Especially this section “private agencies working with direct arrival refugees to submit annual reports on the services they provide to refugees, which towns receive refugees, how many refugees come, the demographics (age, country of origin, sex)”. I find it hard to reconcile with some of the parts of this amended version. After 2020, what would be required next?

  10. In some of the areas that refugees are coming from, they have known nothing but war. They may have been conditioned not to trust the police, firefighters or anyone in a uniform. If you have 50 people from one group, settled next to a group of 50 people from a rival group from the same area, there is bound to be trouble, add into that the fear of people carrying guns in uniform.

    Having knowledge of different cultures moving into an area might be useful to local communities so they can adapt. So store can start arranging for good and services the refugees are accustomed to, so medical services have a better idea of their medical needs.

  11. So, MC, let me see if I understand your crtieria. You don’t want every new resident to have to check in with the Legislature. You only want certain new residents to check in with the Legislature.

    Are you saying you want people from different cultures to check in with state government? Just how different must a culture be for you to require that check-in? New York City is a pretty different culture from Sioux Falls or Hartford. Should Manhattan transplants have to check in?

    Are you saying you want everyone who comes from a violent situation to check in? So should victims of domestic abuse check in when they move here?

    Are you saying that you want any two people who don’t like each other but who move into the same area to check in? When I moved to Aberdeen, where Joop Bollen and Jeff Sveen live, should I have checked in with the state to let them know my presence in Aberdeen might cause some tension toward existing residents?

  12. Porter Lansing

    MC … In your homespun way you’re trying to justify racial profiling. Considering your background the term, the actions and the repercussions are no doubt “foreign” to how you conduct your life and make your decisions. Please consider:

  13. bearcreekbat

    Cory’s questions to MC hit the mark bigly. Maybe we need a wall around SD and police that stop every single person seeking to enter the state so we can develop a dossier on each of them. And when people stop coming here our border police can go from town to town and house to house to check on the papers and attitudes of each person within our border.

    Ultimately we may need walls around every town to make sure no one enters or leaves until we are satisfied they have the right cultural, political and religious attitudes necessary to fit in.

    After all isn’t life wonderful, perhaps even at its zenith, when people are always afraid of each other? Fear justifies repression. Fear justifies refusal to help others in need. Fear justifies discrimination. Without fear we might feel guilt.

  14. Porter Lansing

    BCB SOLVES SODAK’s BIGGEST PROBLEM!! Congrats, “smarter than most”. Just make it illegal for the best and brightest kids to move out of the state. #WhatSupremeCourt?

  15. Clara Hart

    I have worked with Refugees and eventually Immigrants for all of my life an 29 of them in the USA. There is no evidence to support that if people from a war torn country come to the US and live in the same neighborhood it is likely to start or cause a friction. Let us stop this Bill that is going to profile Refugees if they wish to move to our friendly, welcoming and beautiful State of South Dakota.

    Let us be the example of what South is all about, Friendly faces and Friendly Smiles and I might add Friendly hearts.

  16. Everybody is different. South Dakota needs to not be afraid of difference. SB 124, even in its watered-down form, represents more fear of difference, and certainly does not one thing to help anyone overcome differences and treat each other as neighbors.

  17. bearcreekbat

    I truly hope MC reads and respects Clara Hart’s comment about her years of experience working with refugees and immigrants. People who have worked directly with refugees and immigrants have gained up front personal knowledge that can help fight the urge to stereotype and dehumanize them as the “other.”

    Ms. Hart helps us all understand that refugees and immigrants are simply men, women and children with a variety of experiences, beliefs, and attitudes, just like every other human in our world. We cannot legitimately put them all in the same box, no matter how hard we try.

    Thanks for your efforts Ms. Hart!

  18. Al’s white supremacist skirt was showing, damn hemlines anyway.