Today the U.S. Senate took up legislation already passed in the House to pause the resettlement of refugees from Syria over security concerns.
Instead Heitkamp voted to advance the legislation, which is an interesting position given that Governor Jack Dalrymple drew the ire of the state’s liberals late last year when he called for exactly this sort of pause.
That reveals something pretty interesting about the politics of refugee resettlement here in the state. “They didn’t need her vote,” a political friend knowledgeable on the issue told me of Heitkamp’s vote. “It is a toxic issue [in North Dakota].”
I suspect that’s about right. Heitkamp’s vote wasn’t needed, so she took the path of least political resistance, though to be clear she voted against the filibuster and not necessarily for the bill itself. But one has to think that if Heitkamp were against the legislation she’d have voted for the filibuster.
What this tells us is that, despite nonsense we get from smug social media liberals and newspaper columnists about critics of refugee resettlement being “xenophobes” and “knuckle draggers” the truth is that skepticism of the resettlement program is pretty mainstream.
If it wasn’t, I’m pretty sure Heitkamp would have been on the other side of this filibuster. By the way, this is probably the sort of vote that has North Dakota’s liberals so mad at Heitkamp.
By the way the legislation in question was H.R. 4038, the American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act of 2015 and it was co-sponsored by Rep. Kevin Cramer who also, obviously, voted for it when it passed the House in November.
“The United States is the most compassionate country in the world. We have on numerous occasions opened our hearts and our homes to refugeesescaping war and strife,” Cramer said when the bill passed the House. “However, our compassion must not be exploited at the expense of national security. The recent cowardly terrorist attacks in Paris have shaken the world like no other event since the September 11 attacks on New York City. The primary duty of the federal government is to protect Americans from harm. Admitting Syrian and Iraqi refugees without proper background checks unnecessarily places national security and American lives at risk.”