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Daugaard doesn't expect Syrian refugees in South Dakota

South Dakota isn't likely to receive any Syrian refugees, according to the governor's office. Kelsey Pritchard, communications director for the governor's office, said Monday that no Syrian refugees have come to South Dakota so far, and Gov. Denn...

South Dakota isn't likely to receive any Syrian refugees, according to the governor's office.

Kelsey Pritchard, communications director for the governor's office, said Monday that no Syrian refugees have come to South Dakota so far, and Gov. Dennis Daugaard doesn't believe any will.

The Obama administration has pledged to accept about 10,000 Syrian refugees. A terrorist attack Friday in Paris killed at least 129 people and wounded hundreds more.

According to The Associated Press, one Republican state representative from South Dakota is among a growing contingent against accepting Syrian refugees. State Rep. Elizabeth May on Monday sent a letter to Daugaard asking him "not to accept" refugees from Syria or other Middle East countries through the nation's refugee resettlement program.

May says accepting refugees "places the citizens of South Dakota in harm's way."

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But Pritchard told The Daily Republic on Monday that accepting refugees is a federal decision, and, "It's not clear that states have any say over this."

"Most of the governors who have 'barred entry' acknowledge that this is a federal decision," she said via email.

The AP reported that the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigration says under the Refugee Act of 1980, governors cannot legally block refugees from settling in their communities.

"The federal government has the power over immigration," said Deborah Anker, a professor of law at Harvard Law School who specializes in immigration issues. "If they admit Syrian refugees, they're here. People aren't going to the (state) border. The federal government is going to bring them in."

Despite that, multiple governors pledged not to accept Syrian refugees in their states. The Republican states rejecting further Syrian refugee settlements by Monday afternoon included South Dakota's neighboring state, Nebraska, along with Alabama, Michigan, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Idaho, Maine, Texas, Arkansas, Arizona, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Massachusetts, Ohio, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Georgia and Illinois.

One Democratic governor, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, joined them in rejecting Syrian refugees.

Governors in North Dakota and Minnesota didn't join the call to bar Syrian refugees, while Wisconsin was among those calling for such a safeguard

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple pointed out that the state's only resettlement organization doesn't expect to place any refugees from Syria in the state.

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Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton issued a statement Monday saying he is willing to accept Syrian refugees, given what he learned from the White House.

"My first priority is to protect the safety of the people of Minnesota," said Dayton, a Democrat. "I have been assured by the White House that all refugees are subject to the highest level of security checks of any category of traveler to the United States."

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