Republicans Push Radical Immigration Bill

House Republicans in Pierre today continued to distract voters in South Dakota from real issues by blaming the minorities of our diverse communities at great cost to local governments across the state, Ben Nesselhuf, Chairman of the South Dakota Democratic Party said.

Modeled after Arizona’s controversial immigration law passed last year, House Bill 1198 enjoins local law enforcement to inquire and investigate the immigration status of individuals in South Dakota.

“Using the Arizona model of immigration in South Dakota is like using the South Dakota model of snow removal in Arizona,” Nesselhuf said. Republicans who campaigned on limited government to close the budget they created have again sponsored legislation that enlarges government and encroaches on our personal liberties, Nesselhuf continued.

Representatives from the South Dakota State Bar and Presentation Sisters of Aberdeen argued that local governments will incur increased costs for local law enforcement, attract expensive litigation, and impede cooperation between immigrants and law enforcement in our communities.

Leading sponsor of the bill, Rep. Manny Steele of Sioux Falls, was asked to apologize or resign by a national Hispanic Republican group, Somos Republicanos, after a hearing in Pierre last week in which he described the children of non-citizens as “Anchor Babies,” a defamatory term deeply offensive to many Latinos. He later sought the apology of those criticizing him for using language he called “accurate” and “not offensive.”

Rep. Hal Wick of Sioux Falls and Rep. Brian Gosch of Rapid City voted in support of House Bill 1198, but their votes were not enough to pass the bill out of the House State Affairs committee.

“Cooler heads prevailed today,” Nesselhuf said in response to the bills demise. “But the supporters of this bill should be held accountable for distracting voters from the real issues facing South Dakota today.”

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