On March 23, South Carolina’s state Senate passed a bill that sets limits for refugees coming into the state. The bill was passed by a vote of 39-6.
The bill, if put into effect, would require incoming refugees to register with the South Carolina Department of Social Services, which would then turn over control to law enforcement. Sponsors would also be held responsible for any type of crime or act of terror committed.
The measure has been met with controversy. Lutheran Services Carolinas and World Relief Spartanburg, two organizations that relocate refugees in South Carolina, are in opposition to the bill. Some members of the Senate argue that the bill would affect innocent refugees fleeing countries devastated by war, such as Syria.
Several changes have been made to the bill, including a measure that does not require agencies to post public information on refugees. A condition barring both state and local money from going toward aid for refugees was also removed. The Social Services Department collects federal aid that will be used to give refugees things like language instruction and medical assistance.
Cosponsor of the measure, Republican State Sen. Kevin Bryant of Anderson, recognized the recent attacks in Brussels as having led to the quick passage of the bill after it had been filibustered by detractors one week prior.
He later told the Associated Press that he hoped the bill would make South Carolina the “most unwelcome state” for incoming refugees. The measure would be the first of its kind in the United States.
In order for its measures to go into effect, the bill needs to pass in the state’s House of Representatives as well as garner Governor Nikki Haley’s approval.