North Dakota Gubernatorial Contender Would Consider Suing Feds Over Refugee Resettlement

Technology entrepreneur Doug Burgum, one of two candidates for the gubernatorial nomination in North Dakota’s Republican primary, tells Breitbart News that suing the federal government over the refugee resettlement program on Tenth Amendment grounds is “an option that deserves consideration.”

State Rep. Al Carlson, the Republican House Majority Leader from Fargo, recently told Breitbart News that he would support legislation to sue the federal government for its operation of the refugee resettlement program. The North Dakota Legislative Assembly convenes again in January.

In April, the Tennessee General Assembly declared that it will sue the federal government on Tenth Amendment grounds for the operation of the refugee resettlement program.

Like Tennessee, North Dakota is one of fourteen states that have withdrawn from the federal refugee resettlement program. In those states, the federal government administers the refugee resettlement program through VOLAGs (voluntary agencies), who are paid more than $1 billion per year for these services by the Obama administration, under what is known as the Wilson-Fish alternative program.

Breitbart News contacted Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, the other candidate competing in North Dakota’s June Republican primary, for a statement on his position concerning the state suing the federal government over the operation of the refugee resettlement program within its boundaries, but has not received a response.

Earlier this week, Majority Leader Carlson told Breitbart News, “I think the current Attorney General [Stenehjem] would be behind doing that [suing the federal government over refugee resettlement] as well.”

Here is Burgum’s full statement, as provided to Breitbart News:

When North Dakota withdrew from the federal refugee resettlement program, the Federal Government, with questionable authority to do so, selected the non-profit Lutheran Social Services to oversee the refugee program in North Dakota. While I have tremendous compassion for these refugees, this action amounts to federal overreach. North Dakota has a right to understand what’s happening within our borders, especially when these federal decisions affect our cities, school districts, and health care providers.

We need more accountability and transparency. I’ll take every step necessary to protect North Dakota citizens, assure their safety and protect taxpayers—the first step being to re-establish our state sovereignty under the 10th amendment, and restore North Dakota’s authority to have final say on how this program is administered.

Filing a lawsuit against the federal government shouldn’t be taken lightly, but it is certainly an option that deserves consideration and debate at this point.

As Breitbart reported previously:

Gov. Jack Dalrymple, a Republican, could initiate such a lawsuit without waiting for the North Dakota State Legislature to act, but he has given no indication he intends to do so.

Dalrymple’s term expires in January 2017, and he is not running for re-election.

Attorney General Stenehjem is running against technology entrepreneur Doug Burgum, who sold Fargo, North Dakota-based Great Plains Software to Microsoft for $1.1 billion in 2001, in June’s Republican primary for the GOP’s gubernatorial nomination.

In North Dakota, securing the Republican nomination in recent decades has been tantamount to winning the general election. The state has not had a Democratic governor since 1992.

Burgum’s statement is another indication of opposition to the Obama administration’s operation of the federal refugee resettlement program in the fourteen states that have withdrawn from the program under the “questionable authority” of the Wilson-Fish alternative program.

Kansas and New Jersey have recently withdrawn from the federal refugee resettlement program, and political pressure is growing in Texas, Maine, and Florida on the governors of those states to withdraw from the program as well.

Of the fourteen states where the federal government resettles refugees under the Wilson-Fish alternative program, political resistance is high and growing in at least three — Tennessee, North Dakota, and Alabama  — and is expected to become more visible soon in several others, including Idaho and Kentucky, sources tell Breitbart News.


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