Victory in South Carolina: Anti-Refugee Bill Dies as House Session Ends

Assistant Director of Communications

June 3, 2016

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Thanks to steadfast opposition from a broad coalition of residents, an anti-refugee bill has died without receiving a vote in the South Carolina House. 

In late April, refugees, veterans, pastors, teachers and students were among the 22 people who testified against S997 before a state House subcommittee, many citing their Christian faith as the basis of their objection to the bill. No one spoke in favor of it. A week later the bill advanced out of the subcommittee.

But the full House Judiciary Committee did not take up the bill — a decision that stands in contrast to anti-refugee and anti-immigrant rhetoric on the state level and nationwide.

“A broad coalition of groups from across the state, including conservative Evangelical and progressive Christians, stood strong for our values,” said Alan Cross, Southeast Regional Coordinator for Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform. “The House heard us. They recognized that the bill was bad for South Carolina and rejected anti-refugee rhetoric.”

In addition to in-person opposition to the bill, a radio ad that aired on 13 Columbia-area radio stations encouraged residents to make a phone call to oppose the bill.

“The courage of pastors and others in South Carolina has helped remind all of us what our nation stands for,” said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum. “Welcoming refugees is part of who we are. This outcome is even more important in the midst of a less than welcoming political environment.

“America is better when we recognize the lives refugees have been forced to leave behind, and when we honor and support their efforts to start over and contribute in their new home. Thanks to South Carolina, America’s beacon of hope and possibility is shining brighter today.”

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Bibles, Badges and Business is a project of the National Immigration Forum and the National Immigration Forum Action Fund.