State senator wants to look at immigration programs

PIERRE, S.D. (KOTA TV) - State Senator Neal Tapio, R-Watertown, announced Monday his intention to create a legislative working group to review state immigration and refugee resettlement programs and to analyze the financial and societal impact on state and local governments.

Following an intensive year-long listening tour on the impact of immigration and refugee resettlement on the Aberdeen community, Tapio expressed concerns about the openness and transparency of the immigration and refugee resettlement programs and reemphasized his concern regarding the lack of state and local oversight of the Refugee Resettlement program in South Dakota.

“Currently, elected representatives of the people of South Dakota do not have any input or oversight of the federal refugee resettlement program,” Tapio said. “These programs are impacting our communities and leaving their citizens in the dark. We need to know the detailed impact to our state and to our communities.”

Tapio said the working group will document the financial impact on law enforcement, courts and jails, health care and hospitals, education and schools, housing, language and translation services, and welfare benefits.

The group intends to hold public hearings to gather public sentiment about these programs and to document the safety and other concerns of the community.

Tapio also indicated his desire to establish the number of refugees a community can properly assimilate while keeping a community safe and fiscally viable.

Tapio highlighted a pattern of improper oversight by the state of South Dakota over federal programs in the past.

“Citizens are concerned the Refugee Resettlement program has led to more crime and increased costs to state and local taxpayers. We need to investigate these concerns before things gets out of control, not after it is too late.” Tapio said.

The legislative working group will be announced as early as Friday.