192 people became official Americans in a naturalization ceremony in Sioux Falls Friday. Welcome, neighbors!
Both the City of Sioux Falls and Minnehaha County will vote this week (unnecessarily, unconstitutionally, since local governments have no constitutional authority to regulate the federal issue of immigration) on whether they will allow refugees to settle in their jurisdictions. Minnehaha County Commission Chair Jean Bender indicates that her constituents overwhelmingly support opening our doors to new Americans:
“The comments that we’ve received have been overwhelmingly favorable. Certainly the business community has reached out and said they need workforce. In their workforce refugees have been very good employees,” Minnehaha County Commission Chair Jean Bender said [Kelli Volk, “Refugee Resettlement Vote Coming Up in Minnehaha County,” KELO-TV, 2020.01.10].
Mayor Paul TenHaken at least is talking like a sensible patriot and Christian and saying he wants to continue to welcome new people to the Queen City of the East:
If Mayor Paul TenHaken has his way, Sioux Falls will continue to welcome new residents fleeing from war-torn countries, political persecution or natural disasters.
…”Sioux Falls has been a welcoming community to new Americans for more than a century,” he said [Joe Sneve, “Mayor TenHaken Won’t Stand in the Way of Bringing More Refugees to Sioux Falls,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2020.01.11].
Alas, he still sneaks in a little Trumpism to his otherwise sensible position:
Each year, dozens of refugees are resettled in Sioux Falls through Lutheran Social Services (LSS), which handles statewide refugee resettlement services.
…”LSS has a track record of successfully preparing refugees to be part of the Sioux Falls community and workforce,” he said. “I’ve also been impressed with the steps the Trump Administration has taken to strengthen the vetting system for the refugee resettlement program” [Sneve, 2020.01.11].
South Dakota Voices for Peace is urging good neighbors everywhere to call city hall and the courthouse to support welcoming refugees.
The noisiest opponent of serving humanity and our national interests is Trumpist Neal Tapio, whose persistent anti-immigrant and anti-LSS screeds are so vile and ludicrous that even the SDGOP spin blog is digging up Tapio’s old blog posts to criticize him for boosting racial profiling and Islamophobia. (Actually, I suspect the SDGOP is less worried about Tapio’s stoking anti-immigrant sentiment—after all, they don’t abandon Trump for saying worse—and instead simply marginalizing Tapio to make sure he gets no traction against their establishment candidate, Dusty Johnson. But hey, let’s take allies case by case wherever we can get them.)
We can use fewer hatemongers like Neal Tapio and more South Dakotans and more Americans like the 192 people who traveled here, persevered through at least five years of a complicated citizenship process, and willingly swore allegiance to our great immigrant nation on Friday.
Both meetings take place Tuesday—Minnehaha County Commission at 9 a.m., Sioux Falls City Council at 7 p.m. If Tapio shows up, just let him talk himself into his narrow, fearful corner. Then encourage your elected officials to do the right thing and keep the welcome mat out and the doors open to fellow human beings pursuing the American dream.