MINOT, N.D. — When North Dakota’s oil industry announced a new program aimed at recruiting Ukrainian refugees to help fill open jobs in our state’s oil fields, I expected the pushback to come from the angry nativists in disgraced former President Donald Trump’s movement.
Trump hates Ukraine since it was his attempt to use American aid to bully President Volodymyr Zelenskyy into playing ball in a political plot against Joe Biden and his family, and Zelenskyy’s refusal to go along, that led to Trump’s first impeachment.
I didn’t expect the industry to face blowback from the left. That was naive of me. We live in an era where performative hatred for one’s political opponents has crowded out nuanced and thoughtful policy debates. I should have seen it coming.
The program at issue is called Bakken GROW, with the acronym standing for Global Recruitment of Oilfield Workers. It’s an initiative of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, which just announced former Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford as its leader. The industry is hoping to take advantage of a Biden administration program, called United for Ukraine, which matches Ukrainian refugees with American-based sponsors and expedites the process of bringing them to the United States.
The reaction, from some of North Dakota’s leftists, was to accuse the Petroleum Council, and Sanford, of being racist hypocrites. They only want Ukrainians because they’re white, the argument goes.