North Dakota Gave Up Oversight Of Refugee Resettlement In 2011

Last night Valley News Live’s Chris Berg had an excellent interview with Rep. Kevin Cramer regarding the refugee resettlement issue.

As Rep. Cramer points out, this isn’t an issue without significance for North Dakota. Back in March, SAB readers will remember, ISIS made threats against personnel at the Minot Air Force Base. While Governor Jack Dalrymple has said that Lutheran Social Services is not bringing refugees from Syria into the state, the group is bringing in refugees from Iraq which is next to Syria.

And oh, by the way, you can’t spell ISIS without Iraq. That acronym stands for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]”ND Department of Human Services relinquished the role as State Refugee Coordinator as of FY 2011,” the document from the ORR states. “These duties are assigned to Lutheran Social Services/ND.”[/mks_pullquote]

Rep. Cramer says we very much need to acknowledge the connection between the work LSS does on refugee resettlement and ISIS saying they will use refugee resettlement to put their operatives in America. “I’m not sure how you can separate the two,” he said.

The whole interview is worth watching, but one important fact Berg brought up was that North Dakota’s state government has actually opted out of oversight of refugee resettlement. It was done through what’s called the Wilson-Fish Act which allowed states to opt out of State-Administered Refugee Resettlement Programs and replace them with a Wilson-Fish Program which is operated by a private non-profit group.

In North and South Dakota that group is Lutheran Social Services.

According to information from the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (see below), North Dakota opted out of refugee oversight recently.

“ND Department of Human Services relinquished the role as State Refugee Coordinator as of FY 2011,” the document from the ORR states. “These duties are assigned to Lutheran Social Services/ND.”

I have put in a request to Governor Jack Dalrymple’s office for more information about how and why that decision was made. I’ll share any response I get, but I think the big question in light of what happened in Paris and concerns in other states, is whether or not North Dakota should take back oversight of refugee resettlement.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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