South Dakota nonprofit: Noem playing on “racial fears” in latest immigration comments

Updated: Jun. 2, 2021 at 7:50 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - South Dakota Voices for Peace says Governor Noem is “playing on people’s racial fears” in response to the governor’s latest comments on immigration.

On May 26, Gov. Noem appeared on The Sean Hannity Show and commented on the Biden administration’s immigration policies. Gov. Noem said state funding for programs working with child immigration could be cut, calling the policies a threat to national security.

“We were very bold about telling them, do not send us unaccompanied children, and very bold in telling the federal government that we did not want to participate in what they’re doing to threaten our national security. They don’t have to notify us, they don’t have to get our approval as governors to put these children or put unvetted refugees into our states. I can communicate, however, with the people who run those programs in my state, and they do receive state dollars, and so they need to know that those are threatened, if they’re threatening the people of South Dakota, it is my job as governor, to protect them and to put the people of South Dakota first and I will do it and yes use every tool that I have,” said Gov. Noem.

South Dakota Voices for Peace Executive Director Taneeza Islam responded to Gov. Noem on Wednesday.

“Threatening to cut funding for essential services to South Dakotan children’s health and well-being is a new low for Governor Noem,” said Islam. “There have never been any ‘unvetted refugees’ in South Dakota and the governor knows it. Her behavior deliberately plays on people’s racial fears, using pure fiction about terrorism and innocent children to scare people for her own political gain. Her methods are dangerous and need to end.”

In a newsletter on South Dakota Voices for Peace’s website, the nonprofit states, “the Biden Administration did not ask South Dakota to accept Unaccompanied Children. The governor has created a problem where there never was one.”

The newsletter goes on to say “children from Central America who are legally seeking refuge in South Dakota go to our state-funded schools, get food through state-funded agencies, and play at our state-funded parks and swimming pools. These children also receive services through agencies protecting victims of child abuse and child sexual assault like the state-funded State’s Attorney’s Offices, police departments, and Department of Social Services.”

According to the Office of Refugee Settlement, over 500 unaccompanied immigrant children were placed with sponsors living in South Dakota between October 2014 and April 2021.

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