Dalrymple On Refusing Syrian Refugees: "That Is Not Something A State Government Does"

Governor Jack Dalrymple was interviewed by Scott Hennen this morning on the What’s On Your Mind Show and, not surprisingly, Hennen asked about the situation with refugees and security.

Specifically, Hennen asked whether or not Dalrymple would do what governor’s in other states have done which is say “no” to Syrian refugees in our state.

“There’s one important fact that I think everyone needs to realize and that is that the process of allowing people into the United States is handled by the federal government through our immigration services,” Dalrymple said.  “They do the screening, they decide whether someone is acceptable, whether they’re a refugee or not. That is not something a state government does. There is some question whether or not governors have access to enough information about what resettlement programs in their states are doing.”

Towards the end of the interview, Hennen asked again what Dalrymple would say if the federal government decided to place Syrian refugees in North Dakota. Specifically, Hennen asked Dalrymple if he would say no.

“There’s one important fact that I think everyone needs to realize and that is that the process of allowing people into the United States is handled by the federal government through our immigration services,” Dalrymple said.  “They do the screening, they decide whether someone is acceptable, whether they’re a refugee or not. That is not something a state government does. There is some question whether or not governors have access to enough information about what resettlement programs in their states are doing.”

“My answer is it needs to be put on pause until they’ve gone over the whole process and assured us that it is as tight as it needs to be,” Dalrymple said.

Asked about what sort of information North Dakota is getting regarding refugees, Dalrymple says he’s been updating himself on that.

“I have checked that out within the last few hours with our people at the Department of Human Services,” he said. “We do have access to that information in the State of North Dakota.”

“We do rely on [the federal government] to tell us they’ve done the proper screening,” he added.

As to what sort of information the state gets, Dalrymple says it’s limited to just a list of names and addresses.

“I don’t have the results or the details of all the background checks they’ve done,” he said, adding that the feds are “adamant that the U.S. has the strongest screening process in the world.”

 

Yesterday I pointed out that the State of North Dakota had given up its oversight of refugee resettlement a few years ago, handing everything off to Lutheran Social Services under the Wilson-Fish Act which allows states to opt out of the refugee program. Dalrymple said that decision was made by the Department of Human Services, though I should add that department is part of the executive branch which Dalrymple presides over.

Hennen asked Dalrymple if, in retrospect, he still thought that was a good idea.

“I don’t see any weakness in that because it really is pretty much the same thing as we were doing before,” Dalrymple said. “The only thing we did in the past was act as a fiscal pass-through agent for some federal funds. We weren’t really involved in any screening processes or any actual execution of the programs.”

Hennen also asked Dalrymple about the accusation from Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton that those calling for a pause in the refugee resettlement are engaging in “showmanship.”

“I don’t see how asking for the screening process at the federal level to be made more stringent, because of recent global events, I don’t see how that is in any way showmanship,” Dalrymple said. “To me that is just being smart. Something changed last week, and that is the 129 people who got murdered in France – 353 people were injured by gunfire. That’s a game changer. that means the level of risk not only in Europe but worldwide is much greater than we thought. In my mind that means we need to be sure we’ve got a really short screen on this.”

 

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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