SC Senate expects to pass bill limiting refugees

Sponsors of a bill (http://www.scstatehouse.gov/sess121_2015-2016/bills/997.htm) to limit refugees coming into South Carolina expect the full state Senate to pass the bill this week. The bill would require all refugees who come to the state through the federal Refugee Resettlement Program to register with the state. It would also allow the victim of a crime to recover civil damages from any group that sponsors a refugee who’s from a country recognized as a state sponsor of terrorism and who commits a crime here.

After the terrorist attacks in Brussels, Sen. Kevin Bryant, R-Anderson, one of the bill’s sponsors, says, “I believe it emphasizes the need to pass this bill, which, in my opinion, will eliminate or reduce the amount of refugees that are brought into South Carolina.”

The bill also says no state funds could be spent to directly or indirectly benefit a refugee, but Sen. Bryant says he plans to remove that section to help get the bill passed.

But even without that section, Sen. Kevin Johnson, D-Manning, is against it. “I understand people’s fear of ISIS and what may happen through the refugee resettlement program, but somebody has got to be concerned about the folks who are trying to flee from a horrific way of life,” he says. “You have a lot of folks who are not trying to cause terror, they’re actually trying to flee terror, and we have always been a country that welcomes people to our homeland for a safe haven.”

In response to opponents, Sen. Bryant says, “I would tell them to watch the news and see how terrorists have abused the refugee program in Europe, they have abused the refugee program in other parts of the country, and we don’t want that in South Carolina.”

If the Senate passes the bill, it would then go to the House.

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