Earlier this month a bill which would have required more data collection on the social and fiscal impacts of refugee resettlement in our state, and allowed for the state and its political subdivisions to pause resettlement if deemed necessary, was turned into a study after hours of emotional testimony in committee.
But even though the bill which arrived on the House floor today is only a study it still inspired insults from at least one Democrat aimed at its sponsor Rep. Chris Olson of West Fargo.
“It was conceived in ignorance and fear, and born in prejudice and suspicion,” a visibly angry Rep. Mary Schneider (D-Fargo) said on the House floor today. “The study is given life from a mean spirited bill, and it guarded that nature in its current form. It’s designed to look for and report only the negatives.”
Olson spoke immediately after Schneider and asked for an apology.
“To impugn my motives..is completely out of order and I would hope for an apology on that,” he said.
He went on to point out that the bill is a “study into a federal resettlement program.”
“This is a program that has become largely an unfunded mandate,” he continued, adding that it’s “not unreasonable” for the state to ask for some information about resettlement.
House Majority Leader Al Carlson (R-Fargo) also stood up and admonished Schneider for her comments. “Bills like this tend to get emotional…but it’s best to keep in mind that we don’t impugn one another’s motives,” he said.
“They’re not bad people,” Carlson continued, talking about refugees, “but if there’s a cost we shouldn’t be afraid to ask what that is.”
“Nobody has a corner on compassion in this chamber,” he said.
Interestingly, after Carlson and Olson spoke, another Democrat got up and spoke about her support for the study.
“I think the study is very, very important,” Rep. Kathy Hogan (D-Fargo) said. She pointed out that the state has studied refugee resettlement before and that the result was more state funding for ELL (English language learning) programs.
Schneider’s rant is an unfortunate manifestation of the left’s attitude on this issue. While it may be right to say that some in North Dakota, and across the nation, are hostile to refugee resettlement because or some sort of bigotry, to cast all efforts to study this issue as racism is its own brand of ignorance.
Here’s the video of Schneider’s comments, as well as those of Olson, Carlson, and Hogan. You can watch the full debate here.