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HB 1158: Republicans Propose Unconstitutional Anti-Refugee Bureaucracy

The yahoos are at it again in Pierre. Rep. Scott Craig—a Christian pastor who should know better than to be inhospitable to strangers—is leading Aberdeen’s Novstrups and several other fear-mongering Republicans in expanding government bureaucracy to suit their xenophobic sloganeering against Syrian refugees and other people who don’t look and pray like they do.

South Dakota—barbed wire
Wouldn’t barbed wire be cheaper?

House Bill 1158—cribbed from anti-refugee legislation floated in TennesseeNew Hampshire, and South Carolina— would create a bureaucratic nightmare for refugee resettlement organizations in South Dakota. The state office for refugees (a new agency this bill would create) and all refugee resettlement organizations would be required to meet at least every three months with city and county government representatives to discuss plans for resettling refugees. Those entities working with refugees would have to execute letters of agreement with every agency—schools, DSS, hospitals, law enforcement, etc.—that might provide services to refugees. HB 1158 requires the state office for refugees and refugee resettlement organizations to send copies of those letters of agreement to the House and Senate State Affairs committees, local government budget committees, the Secretary of Public Safety, the Attorney General, local law enforcement chiefs, and “the head of all local educational agencies in the state.” Refugee resettlers must also file yearly reports with that same long list of officials with the following information:

  1. Copies of statistical and programmatic information provided to the federal government;
  2. Copies of the written policies of the refugee cash assistance program, including agency policies regarding eligibility standards, the duration and amount of cash assistance payments, the requirements for participation in services, the penalties for non-cooperation, and client rights and responsibilities to ensure that refugees understand what they are eligible for, what is expected of them, and what protections are available to them;
  3. Copies of any written public or private refugee cash assistance program operating at any time in the calendar year;
  4. A report documenting the number of refugees sanctioned for failure to comply with the requirements of the refugee cash assistance program, and the number of determinations concerning employability, or failure or refusal to carry out job search or to accept an appropriate offer of employability services or employment, resulting in denial or termination of assistance;
  5. A certification that women have the same opportunities as men to participate in all services provided, including job placement services;
  6. Any report of crime committed by a refugee who has been resettled in the state, or crime committed against a refugee who has been resettled in the state, whether prosecuted or not; and
  7. A report delineating:
    1. The total number of refugees resettled;
    2. The total number of refugees under the age of eighteen resettled;
    3. The total number of refugees between the ages of eighteen and forty resettled;
    4. The total number of refugees between the ages of forty and sixty-five resettled;
    5. The total number of refugees over the age of sixty-five resettled;
    6. The total number of refugees who are women and men, respectively;
    7. The public assistance benefit programs that the refugees have applied for or enrolled into;
    8. The total number of refugee minors enrolled in public schools;
    9. The total of refugee minors accessing English language learner services.

Sorry, kind fellow beings fleeing war and tyranny, but we’re too bogged down in regulation and bureaucracy to extend liberty, opportunity, and safe place to sleep to you and your children.

HB 1158 empowers the state office of refugees to approve a one-year moratorium on new refugee resettlement activities in any community where the local government can establish that letting in more refugees would “result in an adverse impact to existing residents.” Essentially, if a city or county commission can show that letting in more refugees would result in teachers, translators, cops, or a clerk at the courthouse having to put in more hours, or job applicants having more competition, or some public budget line increasing, they can say, “No more refugees this year.” HB 1158 also empowers the Governor to impose a statewide ban on refugees.

We should apply this thinking to House Bill 1158: Rep. Craig, Rep. Novstrup, Senator Novstrup, and the other Republican sponsors of this bill would result in an adverse impact to existing residents of this state by increasing bureaucracy and state expenditures to create a legal framework that ultimately we need not and cannot exercise, because the feds regulate immigration. So says the Attorney General of Tennessee, which, like South Dakota, is still subject to the United States Constitution:

Question 1: May the legislative branch or the executive branch of the State of Tennessee refuse to accept for resettlement within the State individuals whom the federal government has processed and admitted to the United States as refugees?

Opinion 1: No. Such a refusal would impinge on and conflict with the federal government’s authority to regulate the admission of aliens to the United States and thus would violate the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution [State of Tennessee Office of the Attorney General, Opinion No. 15-77: “Authority of the State of Tennessee to Refuse Resettlement of Refugees,” 2015.11.30].

Republicans make a lot of noise about being strict Constitutionalists, but they keep filling our legislative hopper with unconstitutional ideas. Republicans make a lot of noise about shrinking government, but they are happy to expand it when it suits their desires. Republicans make a lot of noise about America being the greatest country in the world, but they apparently don’t think we’re great enough to open our doors to refugees and win them over to the American way of life.

Update 11:08 CST: Senator Brock Greenfield and known refugee paranoiac and peddler of false information Rep. John Wiik pile on with another anti-refugee bill, Senate Bill 119, which would require the Department of Social Services to get legislative authorization to participate in any agreement with the feds to participate in the Refugee Act of 1980, which is the national refugee processing policy Brock, John, please remind us why you are so all fired determined to prevent us from helping people from other countries who think they’d be better off leaving their troubled homelands to come to America?


  1. John 2016-01-30 10:17

    Who sends folks with these numbskull ideas to Pierre?!? Representative Craig’s proposal forgot the “gold star” clause. Talk about an unfunded mandate. As if DSS has nothing else to do. As if refuges are streaming to South Dakota for our world-class education system (NOT), for our fair tax system (NOT), for the opportunity to work three under-paying jobs at the same time. Perhaps next these legislative sponsors and co-sponsors, in efforts to out red-neck each other, will propose refugee internment camps – releasing the refugees into society, by ones or twos, after they complete a white christian cultural cleansing. These legislative clowns belong in Malheur Wildlife Refuge. Public ridicule and force are the only ways to defeat their hateful dogmas and fatal, knowingly twisted understanding of what it means to be an American and the civic, community-minded behavior called for from our Constitution.

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-01-30 11:17

    John, I’ll focus on public ridicule and electoral force. District 3 sends two of the sponsoring numbskulls to Pierre; I’ll work hard to convince my neighbors to change their minds and send real statesmen, real believers in the greatness of America and our enormous “absorptive capacity”, to Pierre.

  3. mike from iowa 2016-01-30 12:22

    Small gubmint wingnuts in action,again. Pastor-if you don’t like refugees,don’t bother with the Nativity scene during the holidqys. Your imaginary god and all his family and friends were durn furriners. And no matter what non-sense you tools put out there,refugees,like abortion is never gonna stop.

  4. Jake Cummings 2016-01-30 12:59

    John, do you think it could be a combination of legislators being elected prior to the refugee crisis being the issue it currently is, voter apathy, and xenophobia that results in legislation like this and election of officials with these views?

    Perhaps it’s also an unfortunate result of some constituents believing, “as long as s/he doesn’t do something like raise my taxes, I’m not going to worry about the implications of their legislation on some foreigner.”

    Silver lining — at least these bigots and fear mongerers are showing their true colors and lack of principles and empathy but not proposing legislation to allow these refugees, who they seem to deem second-class, to be exploited in the CAFOS at least some of them are so fond of

  5. sherry 2016-01-30 13:36

    Of course the Novstrups would be in on this latest round of stupidity. I vote against them every time, but this is SD after all.

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-01-30 14:08

    (Sherry, you always vote against the Novstrups? Remind me to introduce you to a couple candidates in a couple months. They’ll need your help!)

  7. MD 2016-01-30 17:38

    Maybe instead of getting their state paid trips to ALEC conferences, the state could use that money to send some of these legislators on some more gainful trips. First, to mentor a refugee family in South Dakota, second, to visit a refugee camp, and third to visit a predominantly Muslim country.
    The first will show them how hard the refugee populations work to find gainful employment and set up new lives in South Dakota,
    The second will show them the circumstances they are living in while they are waiting for the US to accept them,
    The third will show them how similar Islam and Christianity really are. Visit a conservative Muslim country and it sure seems a lot like South Dakota (without the exploitative lending (read about Islamic Banking) and gambling). Muslims and Christians can live and flourish together when we realize our common goals and ignore the extremists.
    The worst thing we can do when we introduce a new population into an area is make them feel isolated. When you isolate someone, they do not whither and die away, they find others like them and they band together. An act like this seeks to isolate not to empower. We need to instead focus on welcoming, employing, educating, and embracing our new South Dakotans.

  8. Tim 2016-01-30 17:47

    MD, most of the idiots in Pierre wouldn’t even know why they are there if ALEC wasn’t telling them what to do.

  9. Mark Winegar 2016-01-30 19:25

    How un-Christian and un-American can some people be?

  10. Madman 2016-01-30 19:45

    Not surprised to see Greenfield’s name attached to this. He has a fear of people who don’t speak English and homosexual people. He has been this way since his days back in Northern when he mocked ESL students and Native Americans.

  11. John 2016-01-30 20:15

    It’s worthwhile reviewing two recent posts from Dave at:
    “A Look at the Human Race . . .” and “The US is repeating the history . . .”. Not only is the US repeating but so is South Dakota. Whether refugees, the topic of this post, or those different in the above post, it’s likely that South Dakotans Nordic and Germanic immigrant forebearers would have scant tolerance for the racism and phobias of their great-grandchildren.

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-01-30 22:35

    Real fact-finding, mind-expanding trips—great suggestion, MD! As Tim notes, their trips to ALEC are anything but mind-expanding; they are brainwashing.

    Madman, I suppose that mocking happened before folks could leave electronic trails of their bigotry?

  13. Noddy Holder 2016-01-31 17:18

    Of course, Big Brock is on this one, and he’ll make a lot of noise about it. He’s also the same guy who walked on votes last year about the minimum wage for kids bill, so I’m sure he’s as trustworthy on this as ever. This is just another piece of, um, legislation that shows we would better off if we had a biennial Legislature.

  14. Porter Lansing 2016-01-31 20:14

    … unconstitutional Republican haybilly hate bill #???

  15. grudznick 2016-01-31 20:27

    Big Boy Brock boldly beckons belligerence by bourgeois.

  16. Madman 2016-02-01 09:15

    Greenfield has always been very careful on leaving electronic trails and this occurred back in 97-99. It’s unfortunate that he has grown to fear people and uses the guise of the protection for the people to hide it.

  17. Les 2016-02-01 09:43

    I doubt this is behind any bill up right now. But, who pays for the schooling of refugees where the teachers are so tied up with non English speaking students the locals get no education. Huron/Wolsey?

    What happens to the system that gets a couple hundred non English speaking students dropped onto their laps, teach?

  18. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-02-01 21:20

    Les, the state has created an extra K-12 funding allocation for ESL needs. I don’t know if it covers the full cost, but there’s something.

    Interesting that the Republicans would create this measure to prohibit an influx of refugees, but the bill doesn’t address influxes of foreign workers to turkey plants or beef plants or dairies or other favored GOED projects. With our current worker shortage, we could absorb refugees into our workforce pretty easily. The strains placed on the schools and social services and law enforcement by refugees wouldn’t be that different from the strains of absorbing the Karen in Huron or the multinational work immigrants here in Aberdeen.

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