Candidates from both sides of the aisle in Minnesota's Eighth District race weighed in Tuesday on whether or not to allow Syrian refugees to be resettled in the U.S. Resettlement of the refugees has become politically controversial following a terrorist attack in Paris Nov. 13. The nationwide argument over whether to continue to allow refugees quickly formed along partisan lines.
In response to a request from the Dispatch, Republican Stewart Mills' campaign emailed a statement saying the refugees should not be allowed in, while U.S. Rep. Nolan's congressional office sent one from the Democrat lawmaker saying the refugees should still be allowed access.
"We have a long and proud history of taking in refugees from all around the globe, and we do not discriminate based on race, religion or nationality," Nolan said in the statement. "Not only is that type of discrimination illegal - it also goes against our core founding values as a nation. After all, these refugees are fleeing to escape regions where they are entrapped by the very same violence that tragically reached the streets of Paris."
Nolan added that the U.S. must "leave no stone unturned" to protect itself from ISIS. The nation's intelligence gathering must be examined, and anyone entering the country from abroad must be screened, he said, "regardless of the time or the inconvenience involved."
Refugees entering the U.S. are more thoroughly vetted "than any other group coming into the country," undergoing background checks, interviews, fingerprints, and other security measures prior to entering, Nolan said. On average, the process takes more than a year and a half to two years before a refugee can actually arrive, he said.
Nolan's background as a Christian "would never allow me to deny refuge to a 5-year-old orphan of war," he said. Nolan ended the statement by quoting Pope Francis' recent address to Congress, in which he implored his audience to remember the Golden Rule.
Mills: provide humanitarian aid, not place in America
Mills' statement said his top priority was "the safety and security of the American people when addressing the very real threat of radical Islamic terrorism, as seen in the recent attacks in Paris."
"We need to protect ourselves here at home by resolving the underlying problem of Islamic extremism that is creating instability and oppression in the Arab world," the statement read. "Our hearts go out to the families suffering under this oppression and our policy should be to provide humanitarian aid in the Arab region to those families, not relocating them to our country, and more importantly help those refugees eventually reclaim their rightful homes."