Bill Prohibiting Students in U.S. Illegally from Attending BOR Schools Fails in Committee

Feb 8, 2018

Senator Stace Nelson (R) sponsored SB 103
Credit SD LRC

The senate education committee effectively tables a bill prohibiting students who are in the country illegally from attending public universities. Senate Bill 103 is sent to the 41st day after more than an hour and a half of testimonies and discussion. 

Opponents of the bill argue the Board of Regents lacks power and resources to uphold federal immigration law. Legal counsel for the Board of Regents also states the system is not considered complicit in harboring criminals under federal statute.

Senator Stace Nelson sponsors S-B 103. He says he tried to work with the B-O-R to determine the impact of illegal immigration on the school system, but didn’t receive what he called a straight answer. He says the rule of law is being subverted in the name of politics.

“Then I say, why don’t we start doing that for South Dakotans that are here legally, that have supported this state, that are paying, that are supporting this state on its back? Are we gonna start saying if you commit DWI we’re not gonna prosecute that. What other crimes are we gonna grant amnesty for? If we’re gonna grant anybody amnesty, it should be South Dakotans—how ‘bout our veterans that have paid for the price of freedom!” Senator Nelson says.

Others took issues with Senator Nelson’s justification for the bill. Senator Troy Heinert serves communities on the Rosebud Reservation. He says the handout the committee received claims illegal immigration costs the state millions of dollars through Limited English Programs. He says that’s misleading.

“There’s about 80% of kids in my community that qualify for LEP. Those kids are not illegal aliens. These kids were here, these families were here first. So if we really wanna have a conversation about illegal immigration, we can go back a couple hundred years. I’ll be glad to have that conversation," Senator Heinert says.

Heinert’s substitute motion to move the bill to the 41st day passes with a five to two vote.