South Carolina lawmaker blasts Nikki Haley over stance on Obama refugee resettlement program as governor

South Carolina state Rep. Stewart Jones, an ally of former President Trump, ripped Nikki Haley for supporting the Obama administration's refugee resettlement as governor.

A South Carolina lawmaker blasted GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley for her stance on “Obama’s refugee resettlement program” during her time as governor. 

“I was serving on county council almost 10 years ago, when we had to tell Nikki Haley, by resolution, to stop supporting Obama’s refugee resettlement program,” South Carolina state Rep. Stewart Jones, a Republican, said in a clip originally shared by the MAGA War Room account on X earlier this month and reposted Monday by Team Trump. 

Fox News Digital reached out to Haley’s campaign for comment on Monday, but did not immediately hear back. 

In November 2015, Haley, then the governor of South Carolina, specifically asked the State Department not to resettle Syrian refugees in the Palmetto State amid growing concern from local lawmakers in the wake of a series of coordinated Islamist terrorist attacks carried out in Paris, France, and the city’s northern suburb, Saint-Denis, that killed 130 people. 

But Jones, who was serving on the Laurens County Council at the time, told Fox News Digital that earlier in 2015, Haley had ignored a number of state provisions by continuing to support the Obama-era resettlement program, prompting a massive push by state lawmakers in September and October calling on the governor to reverse course before the Paris attacks. 

“Nikki has honestly, she’s got more flip-flops than a beach,” Jones, who is running for the U.S. House in South Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District, said. “That’s basically how I look at it. I mean, she eventually kind of backed off of it, but she still supported it in a different way.”

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“I don’t believe we know how many people truly were coming in, especially now. I mean, now, I’d say with our southern border issue that we have, you know, with it just being wide open, we have no clue how many people are coming into this country, and there’s estimates and so forth,” Jones told Fox News Digital. “It’s a major, major issue. And I think Nikki Haley would be very detrimental. She would hurt the situation even further. And, we got, we got to secure the border.” 

Then-President Obama’s administration had vowed to accept about 10,000 Syrian refugees over a 12-month period at the time, according to WYFF, but South Carolina lawmakers expressed concern to Haley about the vetting process of refugees from conflict zones, citing how French authorities said a Syrian passport was found near one of the attackers, and the Paris prosecutor’s office said fingerprints from one of the attackers matched those of someone who passed through Greece just a month earlier. 

Haley said she still supported groups like Lutheran Services of the Carolinas and the World Relief Organization bringing refugees into South Carolina from elsewhere in the world, including areas like the Congo, Burma, Ukraine and Iraq, acknowledging in a letter to then-Secretary of State John Kerry that such migrants are often fleeing religious persecution. 

“As Governor, it is my first and primary duty to ensure the safety of the citizens of South Carolina. We are a state that has proudly welcomed refugees from around the world as part of the United States Refugee Resettlement Program…. While I agree that the United States should try to assist individuals in such dire situations, it is precisely because of the situation in Syria that makes their admission into the United States a potential threat to our national security,” she wrote to Kerry at the time. “For that reason, I ask that you honor my request and not resettle any Syrian refugees in South Carolina.”

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Haley also mentioned how two interpreters who worked with her husband in Afghanistan were brought over through the U.S. resettlement program under Obama. 

“These are people who have protected our troops. These are people being persecuted for being Christian. These are people being hurt because of their political beliefs. These are people who we took in because they weren’t safe where they were,” Haley said at the time, according to WIS-TV. 

Haley is competing against former President Trump in the South Carolina GOP primary on Feb. 24. 

The Obama administration pledged in 2016 to bring in more than 110,000 refugees from around the world in that fiscal year – an issue that sparked heated debate during the presidential election cycle, with Trump and others raising concern that terrorists could be among them. 


Trump has the backing of most Republican state and federal elected officials in South Carolina in the 2024 race despite Haley serving as governor from 2011 to 2017. 
Trump tapped Haley to serve in his administration as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. 

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