Using a legislative tactic called “hog-housing,” state Sen. Phil Jensen, R-Rapid City, plans to breathe new life into an bill that would block refugees from settling in South Dakota.
Jensen fears that “radicalized Muslim” terrorists will exploit the refugee process to infiltrate the state.
“I’m not satisfied with the vetting process” now in use before refugees are allowed in, Jensen said.
Speaking over the phone on the way to Pierre on Tuesday, Jensen recalled when one of his constituents told him he witnessed “dozens of South Americans” fleeing a white bus parked near downtown Rapid City.
“He knew they were South Americans,” Jensen said, “because they had different skull structures and skin tones from Mexicans.”
Sponsored by state Rep. Scott Craig, R-Rapid City, and state Sen. Bruce Rampelberg, R-Rapid City, House Bill 1158 — this session's spiritual predecessor of Jensen’s proposal — would have allowed the governor to close the borders of South Dakota to all incoming refugees for up to a year.
Craig withdrew House Bill 1158 this month after learning that empowering the governor to refuse refugees is unconstitutional, and that the refugee-resettlement infrastructure called for in his proposal already was in place in South Dakota.
Jensen’s bill has yet to receive a number, and he isn’t sure exactly when he will introduce it, although he expects it to be a very similar to the Craig-Rampelberg measure.
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That’s how hog-housing works, Jensen said in way of explaining the phrase, which appears in a glossary of terms on the state Legislature’s website.
“(Craig) tabled it and in effect killed it,” Jensen said. “Once it’s killed, you can take possession of it with the permission of the owner and insert new language.”
Craig could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
Jensen isn’t yet sure what new language he will insert. His plan for now is to build a coalition of lawmakers around the resurrected bill and fine tune its contents with the help of the Family Heritage Alliance, a conservative advocacy group based in Rapid City.
Before they can enter the U.S., refugees are vetted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, and the Departments of State, Defense, and Homeland Security. The process can last as long as two years.
In South Dakota, Lutheran Social Services for five years maintains a consistent presence in the lives of the refugees it resettles, picking them up from the airport and helping them find housing and jobs in their new communities.
Of the 784,000 refugees resettled in the U.S. since Sept. 11, 2001, only three have been arrested for planning acts of terrorism, none of which were actually carried out, according to a report released last October by the Migration Policy Institute, an independent, nonpartisan Washington-based think tank.