On March 24th, the Senate passed an anti-refugee bill (S. 997) to the state House of Representatives.
We were pleased that amendments made in the Senate represented huge steps forward in protecting the safety, privacy, and prosperity of the families we welcome. However, the bill still creates civil liability for “refugee sponsors,” and requires the State Law Enforcement Division to “confirm that any refugees placed in South Carolina… do not pose a public safety risk.” (you can read the full text of S 997 online).
An open letter from the Interfaith Immigration Coalition expresses our concern perfectly:
This legislation would not make communities or cities in South Carolina any safer. Rather, it creates an environment of prejudice against refugees and takes away resources that are vital for refugees fleeing violence, persecution, and unimaginable circumstances who deserve the opportunity to rebuild their lives in our state. This bill sends an unwelcoming message to people fleeing for their lives.
As people of faith, we are called to love and welcome the stranger among us (Leviticus 19:33-34). It simply isn’t necessary to treat these vulnerable people as if they were criminals, and it isn’t right to threaten legal action against the citizens that seek to help them obtain jobs, learn English, and arrange childcare. We know that every refugee arriving in the US has undergone a rigorous screening process that commonly takes two years. We know that refugees make significant economic and cultural contributions to the communities they join. And we know that of the 2,500+ refugees that have rebuilt their lives in SC since 1992, not one was ever charged with any criminal activities.
For what you need to know about refugees in South Carolina, click here. For information on what a refugee's journey looks like, click here.
You can take action today to prevent S. 997 from becoming law. Making a phone call to your legislator’s office is a powerful way to express your concerns on time-sensitive issues. Our goal is to flood House members’ mailboxes during recess—the House will reconvene on April 12th—and make our voices heard loud and clear. Many of us (including staff at LSC) have never called our legislators before, and we know it can be intimidating, so we’ve collected tips from experts. “Advice for Calling Legislators” can be especially helpful to first-time callers. Then, when you’re ready, please consider taking action:
- Call House Judiciary Chair Greg Delleney, Jr., and ask him not to put S. 997 on the subcommittee agenda.
- Rep. Delleney’s office numbers are (803) 734-3120 and (803) 581-2211.
- If you don’t have time for a phone call, you can also email Rep. Delleney.
- Call your Representative, and ask them to oppose S. 997. You can look up your legislator’s contact information by searching your address here.
Thank you for taking the time to speak out as a voice of welcome. We will continue to inform you of updates on this bill and opportunities for you to support refugee resettlement.
For more information, contact:
Lutheran Services Carolinas, PO Box 947, Salisbury, NC 28145, 1-800-HELPING or email ContactUs@LSCarolinas.net.