Attempts to Slow/Halt Refugee Resettlement

H.4477, H.4408H.4488, and S.928 prohibit any state resources being used to assist in the resettlement of refugees. Another bill, H.4396, would allow the state office for refugees to suspend settlement of refugees in a town or county if it’s determined that the community lacks “sufficient absorptive capacity.”

S.997 would require any refugees placed in this State pursuant to the federal Refugee Resettlement Program to register with the Department of Social Services within 30 days of entering South Carolina. The registration information would include: the refugee’s name, address, telephone number, job status, name and contact information of the refugee’s employer, if any, all state, local, or federal assistance provided to the refugee, criminal record, and any other information that the department determines to be relevant. The registration would have to be updated within 10 days of any of this information changing. The registration database would be open to the public online. The information would also be sent to SLED, which would be required to confirm that the refugees do not pose a safety risk and report its findings to the General Assembly.

S.997 would also allow individuals to claim civil damages against a voluntary resettlement organizations and its directors, if the organization sponsored the resettlement of a refugee who caused the individual harm. Finally, the bill would prohibit the use of state or local funds to to directly or indirectly benefit a refugee placed in South Carolina under the Refugee Resettlement Program.

States can’t be compelled to enforce federal law, but neither can they actively prohibit its enforcement. The U.S. Supreme Court, in cases such as Truax v. Raich, has struck down laws that attempted to prevent the free movement of individuals legally in the United States. While they are clearly opposed to assisting resettlement, none of these bills seem to rise to the level of barring refugees from entry (save perhaps H.4396). There are also possible privacy concerns with S.997.

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