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Bring 10K Ukrainians to Work in South Dakota, Say SD Biz/Gov Poobahs

Back in May, Brad Johnson reported that a secret cabal was working on “Freedom’s Haven for New Americans Workforce“, a project to bring more immigrants to South Dakota to save our dwindling workforce. Evidently the cabal is ready to step out and own its plan to build the workforce that South Dakota cannot build on its own:

Spearheaded by Lake Area Technical College President Mike Cartney and others from Sioux Falls and Rapid City, the aim is to bring 5,000 to 10,000 Ukrainian refugees to the state.

…Called the Freedom’s Haven for New Americans’ Workforce, the plan started taking shape on July 7 during a six-hour meeting in Nemo. More than 30 attendees — representing the congressional delegation, Gov. Kristi Noem’s office, business leaders, communities, support agencies, sponsors, employers, clergy and Ukrainians — helped create a plan.

That plan was unveiled at the end of August when another meeting of about 35 people was held at Lake Area in Watertown.

…“Today we have 30,000 jobs open in South Dakota. We have about 700 people on unemployment. That leaves a bit of a gap,” he said.

Cartney added that “we have probably 45 of the larger employers in South Dakota that are standing up to support this effort” [Brad Johnson, “Plan Emerges to Attract Ukrainians to South Dakota; Refugees Could Help Businesses,” Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 2022.09.06].

Breitbart is already slamming the plan as an effort to “replace” Americans with “eager, compliant, hard-working migrants.” Funny that Breitbart would complain about “compliance”; funny that anyone would complain about “eager”, “hard-working”, and most importantly, actual workers. As Sioux Falls trust manager Michael Klatt explains, the Ukrainians and other immigrants aren’t replacing anybody: they are filling holes created by the retired and the dead:

“Aging states like Minnesota, the Dakotas, Wisconsin – they all have large aging populations, and unless we are willing to change our views about workforce, we are going to see our companies struggle,” he said.

“So, our role here is to try and help employers be successful and growing and helping our culture continue to grow and have a vibrant state,” Klatt said [Johnson, 2022.09.06].

South Dakota voters can do their part to support Freedom’s Haven for New Americans Workforce. Johnson reports that one of the barriers to bringing Ukrainian refugees to South Dakota is the lack of affordable healthcare. Other states that have expanded Medicaid don’t have that problem. So if South Dakotans will just turn out this November and approve Amendment D, we can expand Medicaid and remove that obstacle to building our workforce.

Johnson reports that part of the plan involves “insulating” our Republican Congressional delegation just such powerful if nonsensical attacks from Breitbart and others “who fear immigrants and go to great lengths to demonize anyone who supports making immigration easier.” But how much more insulation do our Congress critters need than the endorsement of this plan by the South Dakota Community Foundation, which has set up a fund to support Freedom’s Haven for New Americans Workforce and is made up of a who’s who of South Dakota’s rich and powerful? And what insulation do rich, powerful Republicans really need in a safe Republican state from a plan that will fill jobs, boost the economy, and make them look good?

The Goss Opera House is holding a piano concert to raise money for this refugee relocation project on September 22. Tickets are just $30 a pop.


  1. O 2022-09-06 08:26

    As predicted; “Call us when you’re American . . . shifts to we’ll call you when you can prop up the profits of our corporate donors. I also have some problem that it all feels like we are saying that these families’ lives have not been worth saving until we could exploit them for profitability. The humanitarian crisis in the Ukraine is minimized to a workforce opportunity.

  2. Nick Nemec 2022-09-06 08:36

    Expand the proposal to include all refugees regardless of country of origin.

  3. Donald Pay 2022-09-06 08:40

    The Ukes will not replace us!!!

    Jesus, these righties have so many xenophobes to neutralize. You just have to feel sorry for them. One thing the Ukes have going for them: most are WHITE, LIKE NOEM. She won’t be chasing them out with her white sheet and hood outfit.

    You are so right about the health care situation. States that have a better health care system are going to skim the best workers. Once they find out about Noem’s Covid death panels they are going to skedaddle the hell out.

  4. mike from iowa 2022-09-06 08:48

    Seems like just last year Noem scoffed at the idea of bringing in Ukrainians because she wated “rill Amerikans” to have those jobs they don’t want to do.

  5. bearcreekbat 2022-09-06 09:14

    Unfortunately, O’s comment seems right on the money and reflects the values of way too many members of our current Republican adminstration, and Republican voters (especially the MAGA segment). Those values focus not on whether a public policy can help with the needs of suffering people, but on whether there is personal gain to be had from adopting that policy.

  6. Tom 2022-09-06 09:29

    but, but, they are Slavs…are we gonna further dilute our Nordski-Scandivian blood lines? and they’ll bring a strange religion that doesn’t recognize the Pope! Good luck in getting their kids into O’Gorman…I’m sticking with my dusky pool boy unless der Trümpen Führer sayz otherwise…

  7. John 2022-09-06 09:35

    “Aging states like Minnesota, the Dakotas, Wisconsin – they all have large aging populations, and unless we are willing to change our views about workforce, we are going to see our companies struggle,” he said. – hahahahaha, “companies struggle . . . aka, “companies die”, “companies leave”. Fixed it for Michael Klatt.
    O, above is correct, this Ukrainian immigration proposal is more about exploiting human capital for corporate profit than it is about relieving suffering, bettering people. The cabal behind the “Freedoms Haven for a New American Workforce” mis-identified the problems – looking at them excessively through corporate eyes.

    Few Ukrainians in their right mind would / should want to come to the US or especially South Dakota.
    Ukrainian, or any refuges, receive better and less expensive healthcare, education, and a raft of basic infrastructure services most EU nations.

    Ukraine has a highly educated workforce – higher than South Dakotans. Ukrainians will not settle for long – working under less educated supervisors and managers.
    The initiative to bring Ukrainian workers to South Dakota is dead on arrival . . . unless: 1) they are paid a living wage comparable to what they could earn in an aging EU nation; and 2) healthcare is provided. Even the great capitalist, Warren Buffet said it’s crazy tying healthcare to a job, and that it’s less expensive for business if healthcare is universal, despite a minuscule increase in taxes.
    Educated refuges seek a step up, not a step down.

    The immigrant pools where South Dakota should swim are those where people think that a South Dakota wage, education, and minimal-yet-expensive healthcare is a step up. Folks from some places like Central and South America, Africa, poor regions of India, Pakistan, Burma, etc.
    As to whether immigrants from India, or other places, would be successful . . . ponder this.
    In 1857 the English “owned” India.
    In 2022 Indians own more property in London than do the English. The Indians are more British than are the Britains.

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-09-06 13:41

    Kristi’s “Call me when you’re an American” has turned into “Call me—we need more Americans!” That’s fine with me. I just wish she and the rest of her party wold be honest about the need for immigrant labor and stop letting the counterproductive xenophobes in their base run rampant.

    It is problematic, as O and BCB note, that it takes dollars and econ stats to get Kristi to do the right thing. Noem still hasn’t done anything to track down Russian assets amongst all those billions her friends in the trust industry are sitting on on Phillips Avenue.

  9. Arlo Blundt 2022-09-06 20:59

    Of course, O is correct. Successful businessmen are opportunists. There’s a million desperate refugees in Eastern Europe. Let’s make lemonade out of lemons. It’s too difficult to convince young, talented, well educated young adults to stay and find their future, limited though it may be, in South Dakota. Look elsewhere.

  10. John 2022-09-06 21:24

    Peter Ziehan lays a quick snapshot of the US need for immigrants in 6 minutes. The immigrants need to come from Central / South America.
    Immigration from Mexico was negative for the past 10-11 of 12 years. The Mexicans are doing fine. Too much gang and organized crime, but the middle class is expanding and satisfied to stay home. Building a border wall merely meant building roads to create that wall – so the result is quicker transportation through the US-Mexico border desert. Good job MAGMA repubs! (sarcasm)

    As I wrote earlier, South Dakota must target immigrants who think the South Dakota economy of low wages, poor and over priced healthcare, and mediocre education (contrast to northern Europe/ the far east) is a “good deal’.

  11. All Mammal 2022-09-07 01:28

    How about if a person is running in fear for their life, we swoop them up and give them some soup? For crying out loud. People don’t want to leave their homes. They are forced to flee. How anyone declaring themselves to be about that #God fearing Christian life# to deny safety for their fellow man in dire straights, they’re just a heretic aka #God fraud. Shame on them.
    Cue the reggae sounds of Sonya Spence-Talk Love:
    Let’s forget the stealing and the killing and the war
    Let’s forget the stealing and the killing and the war
    And talk love
    Lets talk love
    Come talk love
    Lets talk love
    Let’s forget the hating
    And the lying And the pride
    Take your brother by the hand
    And walk on by his side
    Take your brother by the hand
    And come along with me
    Take your sister by the hand
    And let us all be free
    Let’s talk love
    Let’s talk love
    Sweet love
    Just put a little love in everything you do
    Make a little detail of to every place you go
    Let’s talk love
    Lets talk love
    Lets talk love
    And live love
    My brother if you see your sister falling by the way
    Don’t just turn away from her and walk another way
    Let’s talk love
    Show love
    Let’s live love
    And talk love
    Let’s talk love
    Show her love
    She’s your sister
    Show some love
    You put a little love in everything you do
    Make a little detail of to every place you go
    One love
    Lets live love
    And love

  12. John Koch 2022-09-07 09:32

    Wasn’t it just a year ago that we were one of just a few states that refused to accept any refugees from Afghanistan?
    I wonder what has changed since then?

  13. Richard Schriever 2022-09-09 15:57

    A friend of mine has a Ukrainian girlfriend who was displaced by Putin’s shenanigans. She is trained and had been working as a RN in Ukraine. In the EU country she is currently a refugee in – The Netherlands – she is a warehouse worker, earning barely enough to survive there. The US is not the only place that will exploit these poor people.

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