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Tuesday, May 28, 2024 | Back issues
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South Carolina Senate OKs Refugee Registry Bill

(CN) - The South Carolina Senate on Wednesday passed a bill that would require refugees resettled by the federal government to register with the state and that includes a provision holding in-state sponsors liable if a refugee commits an act of terror or other violent crime.

The bill has been sent to the state House. If it passes there and is signed by Gov. Nikki Haley, it will be the first measure of its kind in the country.

"We can make South Carolina, out of the 50 states, the most unwelcome state for refugees," the bill's sponsor, state Sen. Kevin Bryant said.

The bill requires all refugees resettled in South Carolina by the federal government to register with the state's Department of Social Services. The agency would then share the collected information with the State Law Enforcement Division, also known as SLED, which would be tasked with determined whether individual refugees posed a security risk or not.

On Wednesday, it passed in the South Carolina Senate 39-6.

Prior to the vote Bryant agreed to remove two controversial provisions in the proposed law. One would have mandated that the state spend no money on the refugees, including any funds to education their children.

The other would have made the registry public. Some lawmakers feared this last provision would threaten the safety of the refuges.

Among those who voted against the measure was State Sen. Brad Hutto, who said he is concerned the bill is unconstitutional because it singles out people based on their country of origin.

South Carolina isn't the only state considering such a measure. In New York, state Sen. Terrence Murphy has introduced a bill that would require refugees to register with the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, be fingerprinted, and have the officer monitor their activities for a year or until they become permanent residents of the United States, whichever happens first.

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