Earlier today I contacted Governor Jack Dalrymple’s office regarding the refugee situation in North Dakota in light of the Paris attacks.
Specifically, I asked if his office was aware of whether or not any Syrian refugees have been placed in our state. “Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, the state’s only organization to assist in resettlements, has informed us that they have not placed Syrian refugees in the state and do not expect to resettle Syrian refugees in the future,” Dalrymple said in a statement emailed by his spokesman Jeff Zent.
It’s a little troubling that the State of North Dakota is relying for information on this important security issue on a nonprofit with a history of being something less than forthright when questioned for information about refugee resettlement. Lutheran Social Services routinely tells the public that around 400 refugees are resettled in North Dakota every year, and provides information on where those refugees are from, but is reticent to provide data about the impacts on things like crime and social services.
It really illustrates what a bad position states are in on this issue. Our state government is pretty much in the dark when it comes to refugee resettlement. How many show up, when they show up, and which refugees are settled here is all up to the federal government. The state apparently gets only the information LSS shares with them.
It’s worth noting here that Rep. Kevin Cramer, North Dakota’s at-large member of the U.S. House, has backed legislation called the Refugee Resettlement Oversight and Security Act which would give Congress a say in how many and which refugees come into the country.
Which, given the way things stand now with President Obama being the the sole decider on the issue, seems like a good idea.
Dalrymple said North Dakota security agencies are coordinating with the federal government. “Since the terrorist attacks in France Friday, our state Division of Homeland Security has been in regular contact with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies,” he said. “Additionally, North Dakota’s Fusion Center continues to coordinate with federal and local officials to share any relevant public safety information. The Fusion Center consists of staff from the North Dakota National Guard, state Division of Homeland Security, state Highway Patrol, Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Information Technology Department.”
Governors in Texas, Alabama, Arkansas and Michigan, Arizona, North Carolina, Florida, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, and Mississippi have all said they’re either going to suspend refugee resettlement from Syria or are at least considering it.