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Noem Calls Attention To Her Take On Immigrant Children

Governor Noem

Governor Kristi Noem wants to call attention to her position on immigrant children at the southern U.S. border.   

“Today I announced that South Dakota would not be taking any illegal immigrants from the southern border,” Noem said as part of a Wednesday post on her Facebook page. “If you are trying to enter the country illegally, call me when you're an American. President Trump secured our border. He fixed the refugee program to keep out bad actors. President Biden has destroyed all of that progress. Terrorists have been apprehended at the southern border and the risk to the people of South Dakota is far too great.” 

Noem posted those comments earlier this week on social media in response to President Biden’s request that some states offer temporary housing to immigrant children. Noem’s social media comments come even though there is no evidence the federal government has asked for such assistance from South Dakota.  

Noem did not cited specific Biden administration immigration policies she is upset with. Noem’s statements this week appear to be in response to the federal government’s actions trying to manage record numbers of unaccompanied minors seeking access to the U.S. In March, 19,000 children, a record number, sought asylum. 

Each child deemed an “unaccompanied minor” by the Department of Homeland Security has the legal right to request entry to the U.S. and go through the immigration process in the hopes of obtaining citizenship. 

Some immigration experts say Gov. Noem is using vulnerable immigrant children to pander to her political base. Taneeza Islam is an immigration lawyer and the executive director of South Dakota Voices for Peace. She says the governor is leaving out important information. 

“It's not illegal immigrants coming to the Border. It is children seeking asylum. They're the only ones being allowed into our country right now,” said Islam. “There is no UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) process on our side of the hemisphere. They’re asking for asylum because they can't be refugees housed in a refugee camp anywhere in Central or South America.” 

Media reports indicate 172,000 immigrants crossed the U.S.-Mexico border in March. That’s the highest number in 15 years.