State lawmakers in New York and in South Carolina have introduced legislation that would not only require registration for refugees coming into their states, but if the refugees commit an act of terrorism, their sponsors could be held liable.
 
South Carolina state Sen. Kevin Bryant (R) said the bill would create a registry of all refugees, prohibit state fund on refugees and their families, and also provide civil liability for sponsors of refugees from countries considered state sponsors of terror by the federal government (e.g Iran, Sudan and Syria) for crimes committed by refugees.
 
Sen. Bryant said the bill is intended to protect public safety. Since 2010, about 850 refugees from countries in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East have come to South Carolina. In 2015, 87 came to the state. The legislator said he was concerned that just one terrorist attack by any one of the refugee would be devastating. He called on South Carolinians to contribute to relief organizations as a means of demonstrating compassion. "Why should we bring one refugee here when we could spend the same money and help 10 in their part of the world?" Bryant said.
 
Hearings were held last week and will likely continue on March 22. Bryant is talking to Democrats about changing the legislation to allow some state money to be spent on refugee families.  The bill in South Carolkin and New York would be the first of any state to require refugee registration. Many states and local jurisdictions are complaining about the cost imposed on them by the hosting of refugees in areas such as law enforcement, education, and health.
 
South Carolinian legislators expressed less concern about possible constitutional ramifications than for the active terrorist threat against the United States. Opponents of the bill claim that the bill is not consonant with Christian values held by many in the state. 
 
Opponents, however, say the measure is out of character for a state that often espouses the importance of Christian hospitality and loving your neighbor. "I want us to be who we have always been — a welcoming people," said Sen. Kevin Johnson, (D).
 
A court challenge to the law is likely. Opponents contend that the law singles out people by county of origin, while it appears to discriminate against Muslims, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "If it is not illegal, it is at least un-American," CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said.
 
The New York bill was introduced by state Sen. Terrence Murphy (R), who represents a district in the lower Hudson Valley. The proposal would require refugees to register with the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance and be fingerprinted. The state would monitor their activities for year or until they become permanent residents, whichever happens first.
 
"While the state may lack the ability to block refugees from coming here, we do have the authority and responsibility to begin tracking who these people are, where they are coming from and to monitor the situation for potential threats," Murphy said when he introduced the bill. But the New York Immigration Coalition is calling for other senators to kill what they call a "heinous bill that treats refugees who are fleeing from violence and conflict like criminals

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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