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Daugaard Calls out Tapio’s Anti-Immigration Sideshow

Alongside a maybe/maybe not Congressional campaign launch, Senator Neal Tapio (R-5/Watertown) said he’s going to form a Legislative working group to study immigration and refugee resettlement in South Dakota. (By “study”, Tapio means, “scapegoat and strawmanify”. Ignorance is strength.)

Governor Dennis Daugaard says Tapio’s working group is “unnecessary” and calls out Tapio’s real motives:

Gov. Dennis Daugaard said the efforts to probe the state’s immigrant and refugee placement procedures weren’t needed.

“People that seize the refugee issue and try to paint it as a threatening immigrant issue misunderstand that situation,” Daugaard said. “I don’t think that’s necessary” [Dana Ferguson, “Neal Tapio Forms Panel to Assess Cost of Immigrants, Refugees to State,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2018.01.08].

South Dakota Voices for Peace says Tapio seems to have the same problem as his pal Donald Trump in understanding how government works:

“Senator Tapio doesn’t have the unilateral authority to create a “legislative working group”; he has to propose a bill or resolution that fully funds this type of study before it can take place,” said Samantha Spawn, policy and communications director for South Dakota Voices for Justice. “This is duplicative of last year’s passage of SB 124, which Sen. Tapio was a co-sponsor of, and we are confident that legislators will see it as such and not support funding a study where similar information from the state’s only refugee resettlement agency is being provided” [link added; South Dakota Voices for Peace, press release, 2018.01.08].

Tapio also says that his self-promoting campaign visits to anti-Muslim rallies around the state were really “an intensive year-long listening tour on the impact of immigration and refugee resettlement on the Aberdeen community”… which is funny, because none of the events he attended included local speakers with expertise on immigration and refugee resettlement on the Aberdeen community.

SD Voices for Peace also find Tapio’s “listening” claim incredible:

At [an August] 2017 event in Aberdeen, which featured identified anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant/refugee speaker, Shahram Hadian, Senator Tapio boldly explained to the audience that last year Muslim Brotherhood and terrorists were in Pierre, with the help of the mayor of Aberdeen and Aberdeen Economic Development Corporation and Chamber of Commerce, to defeat his resolutions. He also said this year he was “building an army” to “take our country back”:

(Tapio speech starts at 2:23:00)

“Senator Tapio was not on a ‘listening tour’ through South Dakota, he was a sponsor of spreading xenophobia, Islamophobia and anti-immigrant and refugee bigotry across the state. Throughout 2017, Tapio endorsed speakers like Shahram Hadian and Trevor Loudon, who are identified hate speakers by various think tanks and organizations around the country,” said Taneeza Islam, Executive Director of SD Voices for Peace [links added; SDVP, 2018.01.08].

Senator Tapio claims that “These programs are impacting our communities and leaving their citizens in the dark. We need to know the detailed impact to our state and to our communities.”

Funny: if he talked with SDVP and other folks who talk to and study immigration, he’d find we aren’t in the dark about the impact of immigration; we have loads of data pointing out that immigrants have a positive impact on South Dakota:

“The facts are immigrants, refugees and Muslims add value and contribute significantly to South Dakota’s culture and economy.  In 2014, immigrant led households in the state paid $58 million in federal taxes and $32.6 million in state and local taxed. Undocumented immigrants in SD paid $5.3 million in state and local taxes. Rhetoric like Sen. Tapio, an elected official in our state, mobilizes his base and puts immigrants, refugees and Muslims in real danger.  We have received complaints of SD Muslims being threatened on social media, receiving hate messages, and DREAMers told they would be reported once DACA expires” [SDVP, 2018.01.08].

You don’t have to form a pseudo-committee to get the information you say you want, Senator Tapio. The facts are out there—heck, they’re right here—if you want them. But if you’d rather keep mirroring ISIS and al-Qaeda, well, I guess that at least means you’ll have less time to manage your Congressional campaign.


  1. Bob Newland 2018-01-08 18:33

    Tapio is on “In the Moment” tomorrow on SDPRadio.

  2. Roger Cornelius 2018-01-08 18:34

    Sen. Joe McCarthy is alive and well and is living in the body of Neal Tapio.

    I’d suggest that there have been numerous studies on Muslim immigrants and their contributions and possible risks to the community.

    Tapio simply won’t accept the reality of studies and reports that show immigrant and refugee contributions to our state.

  3. owen reitzel 2018-01-08 18:51

    So if they have the study, which I’m sure Tapio hopes will show all of the problems with immigrants, what do we do then? Build a wall around South Dakota? What’s the endgame?

  4. grudznick 2018-01-08 19:16

    If this Tapio fellow meets with Messrs. Jenssen and Nelson in a broom closet somewhere, is it a workgroup?

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-01-08 19:18

    Bob, do you think Lori Walsh can handle Tapio?

    Owen, that is the question I’d like to answer. I posed a question like that to Stace Nelson, and I don’t think he ever answered. If immigrants and refugees really are an ISIS beachhead, isn’t the proper response immediate and indefinite detention of all Muslims on American soil?

  6. jerry 2018-01-08 19:44

    When you do not have any ideas about governing and serving all the people, the only things left in your quiver are racial and gender hate.

  7. o 2018-01-08 21:31

    Owen, “What’s the endgame?”

    Blow the dog whistle, and call the pack. Ride to an election victory on the wave of people who like the way you think. Identity politics is never really about actual problems and solutions.

  8. Adam 2018-01-08 23:08

    Daugaard, unfortunately, might be the last moderate Governor our state sees in very long time.

  9. drey 2018-01-09 04:16

    Not commenting on the policy merit of the content, but the political value of it in a Republican primary (which is usually dominated by very conservative and/or right wing voters) as well as its production values were both pretty impressive, I thought. If Tapio gets in–and it sure looks like he is (this wasn’t produced for nothing, after all)–he’s going to make some real waves in the primary. It’s worth remembering that no one–and I mean no one–thought Donald Trump was going to win the GOP nomination when he announced, let alone win the presidency.

  10. John 2018-01-09 06:57

    Kudos to the Governor for calling out the worst behavior of the worst. Watertown and Codington County must be proud.

  11. Mohamed A Sharif 2018-01-09 08:41

    is there any decent person in Watertown to call out this tAPio little man to quit wasting their time and start working for them as he supposed too!

  12. El Rayo X 2018-01-09 08:46

    A few decades ago, central South Dakota was settled by Middle Eastern immigrants with names like Haggar, Abourezk and Abdnor. I’m sure there were Tapios around back then with the same attitude as today.

  13. Dana P 2018-01-09 08:52

    Good on Gov D for this. I hope Lori Walsh can challenge Tapio on his ridiculous fear mongering/lack of factual basis. But listening to some of her interviews with Noem, Rounds, and Thune? I don’t think that will happen, unfortunately.

  14. Jenny 2018-01-09 08:54

    Maybe Tapio should just follow his own anti-immigrant beliefs and go back to his home country (wherever his great grandparents come from).
    I’m sure his ancestors would not have liked being treated by the likes of him when they were settling here.

  15. Bob Newland 2018-01-09 10:22

    In about 45 minutes we’ll begin to hear the answer to “Do you think Lori Walsh can handle Tapio?”

    Having awakened from nightmares in which I hear replays of the weeklong canonization of Bill Janklow by SoDak Public Radio after his death, I have my doubts.

  16. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-01-09 10:52

    Arpaio, Tapio… as O aptly notes, they are just following the Trump model, saying radical things, getting free press, and boosting electoral chances that would be nil if they ran on their own policy ideas.

  17. Roger Cornelius 2018-01-09 11:31

    The Tapio’s I know from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation are Mexican immigrants.

  18. Bob Newland 2018-01-09 11:31

    The Tapio interview was thoroughly unilluminating.

  19. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-01-09 12:01

    Roger, if those Tapios aren’t already, tell them to get naturalized and registered to vote! We need ’em!

    Bob, I chose a good run with the dog over the radio. Any new information? Is the GOP going to excommunicate Tapio for calling for the Governor’s resignation?

  20. o 2018-01-09 13:28

    435 pardons more, and Trump could take the House.

  21. Roger Cornelius 2018-01-09 13:29

    Sorry I neglected to mention that the Tapio’s on the reservation are 2nd and 3rd generation and are a political active family.

  22. Bob Newland 2018-01-09 13:49

    You made a good choice, Cory. Tapio simply extolled his efforts to protect us from the unwashed hordes. Lori Walsh had a tough time inserting questions for him to ignore.

  23. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-01-09 14:46

    2nd and 3rd generation immigrants from Mexico—what? And they haven’t committed any terrorist acts or started Sharia Law?

    Poor Lori. Where’s Jake Tapper when we need him?

  24. Roger Cornelius 2018-01-09 15:20

    Yeah, I know, Cory, isn’t that something to have Mexicans in our state that don’t advocate violence?
    While most immigrants and refugees just wish to live peaceful lives there are anti-immigrations groups in this state that subtly wish a race war will break out

  25. Bob Newland 2018-01-09 16:13

    Tapio said, while laughing, “That was because Daugaard called for Trump to drop out of the presidential race and hand his spot on the ticket to Pence.”

    Lori asked, “So it was a joke, then?”

    Tapio dodged the question.

  26. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-01-09 20:37

    Typical Trumpist: say anything to get headlines, then refuse to take responsibility for those words. Let’s see what comes out of his mouth next.

  27. Nick Nemec 2018-01-10 08:11

    I listened to the entire interview. The host allowed Tapio to stray far from the advertised topic, immigration, and once he strayed she had a hard time getting him back on topic. All in all Tapio came across as a smug know-it-all jerk.

  28. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-01-10 14:12

    Again, surprisingly, straight out of the Trump playbook. I’d say a smug know-it-all can’t win in South Dakota, but 2016 proved me wrong.

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