Trump's immigration order: Minnesota lawmakers respond

U.S. Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar speak against Trump's order.
U.S. Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar speak against Trump's executive order on immigration at a press conference in St. Paul Sunday. Muwatib and Mumtaz Dahir, in jackets, are Somali refugees whose younger sister may be stranded in Uganda as a result of the order.
Matt Sepic | MPR News

Since President Donald Trump issued an order Friday temporarily restricting travel for immigrants and refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries, members of Minnesota's delegation to Washington, D.C., have issued responses, many of which cross party lines.

While all of the Democrats in the delegation issued strong denunciations of the order, Republicans, too, joined a growing number of GOP lawmakers who've expressed concerns that the order goes too far.

Minnesota's U.S. Senators

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN)
U.S. Sen. Al Franken
Gabriella Demczuk | Getty Images

U.S. Sen. Al Franken, DFL-Minn.

Franken posed this comment on his Facebook page on Wednesday, when rumors of Trump's impending order began to swirl:

It's being reported that today and tomorrow, President Trump is signing several executive orders that will divide families in Minnesota and every other state. He is planning to stop refugees from finding safety in our country, to block visas for citizens of several Muslim-majority countries, and he has already signed orders to crack down harshly on immigrants.

Whether you were born in a Minnesota farming community, or in the heart of the Twin Cities, if you're a Native American, or if you immigrated to Minnesota from another country, one of the hallmarks of our state is that we accept and support each other. We Minnesotans are inclusive, sharing common values despite not always sharing the same background, religion, ethnicity, or political affiliation — and I proudly represent every single one of you.

So with that in mind, I would argue that President Trump does not understand what it means to be Minnesotan."

US Senator Amy Klobuchar encourages the crowd.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar
Courtney Perry for MPR News

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, DFL-Minn.

On Saturday, Klobuchar issued the following statement, noting in it that "Minnesota is home to a large refugee and immigrant population, including the largest Somali, Liberian, and Oromo communities and the second largest Hmong community in the United States.:"

"I have long advocated for thorough vetting and have supported strong national security measures, but it is irresponsible and unconscionable to exclude entire populations from seeking refuge here, simply because of where they come from or what religion they practice.

The President's executive order is already having devastating consequences, as legal residents with green cards, refugees fleeing violence, and travelers with visas are being denied entry to the United States and some are being detained in airports. Together, lawmakers and the American people must make it clear to the President that separating families and punishing those who followed the rules is not acceptable. Refugees strengthen our communities. In Minnesota, we are proud to have the largest Somali, Liberian and Oromo populations in the U.S. as well as the second largest Hmong population. They are police officers and small business owners, students and teachers. They have often fled desperate and dangerous situations, and, as legal workers, have been an important part of our economy and society. We cannot turn our back on them."

Minnesota's U.S. House delegation

Rep. Tim Walz, U.S. House District 1
Rep. Tim Walz, U.S. House District 1
William Lager | MPR News graphic

U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, DFL-Mankato, who represents Minnesota's 1st district, its southernmost Congressional district, sent this statement in an email Sunday:

"The safety and security of the American people is our highest national imperative, but President Trump's executive order on Friday not only puts our men and women in uniform at greater risk overseas, it fundamentally contradicts our nation's values. By unilaterally shutting America's door on those fleeing war and persecution in hope of a better life in the United States, we break the promise of our fundamental principle: that our nation is enriched by those who come from different lands, who bring their talents, their hopes and their hunger for freedom.

This type of blanket discrimination is shameful and morally reprehensible. It's not who we are as Americans, and it's not who we are as Minnesotans. In the last day, I have been heartened by so many Americans who have raised their voices to speak out. I join them and will continue our work to live our values and protect our nation."

Rep. Jason Lewis, U.S. House District 2
Rep. Jason Lewis, U.S. House District 2
William Lager | MPR News graphic

U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis, R-Woodbury, represents Minnesota's 2nd District, which covers the Twin Cities' southern suburbs. He released this statement Monday:

"America has always been, and must continue to be, a beacon of hope for the world. However, the first priority of the American government is to keep our people safe.

While this includes border security and immigration controls on those who enter our nation from dangerous parts of the world, I have never supported a religious test for immigration and nor does the Constitution.

Nor do I believe in banning entry for green card holders, who are lawful residents of our country no matter where they are flying from, or those who have aided us on the field of battle. Yet the American people do expect us to properly vet those who wish to do us harm."

Rep. Erik Paulsen, U.S. House District 3
Rep. Erik Paulsen, U.S. House District 3
William Lager | MPR News graphic

Minnesota's 3rd Congressional District covers the Twin Cities' western suburbs. U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-Eden Prairie, this statement on his Facebook page Monday:

"I support thorough vetting of those entering our country from countries and regions posing a serious threat to Americans. But this vetting must be applied responsibly and thoughtfully, and appropriately target those who are a national security risk.

Unfortunately, the President's executive order is too broad and has been poorly implemented and conceived. It is clear from the events this weekend that the executive order does not ensure that legal residents, including green card holders, and non-threats, such as those who served alongside the American military in Iraq, are treated fairly and with the dignity they deserve."

Rep. Betty McCollum, U.S. House District 4
Rep. Betty McCollum, U.S. House District 4
William Lager | MPR News graphic

U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, DFL-St. Paul, who represents the eastern Twin Cities in Minnesota's 4th District, co-sponsored legislation Monday to counteract Trump's order. She released the following statement Saturday:

"President Donald Trump's executive order targeting refugees and Muslim immigrants is cruel, betrays our values as Americans, and does nothing to enhance national security. Turning away the world's most vulnerable people — fully-vetted refugees fleeing war and persecution — does not make America safer.

Discriminating against legal residents and immigrants based on their religion betrays our Constitution, provides a propaganda tool to terrorists, and demonstrates to our allies that the White House will abandon them for political expediency.

There is no moral ambiguity about this executive order: it is intended to harm refugees and Muslims fleeing persecution. With so much at stake, now is the time for our entire community — faith leaders, business owners, workers and labor unions, public officials — to speak with one voice and oppose President Trump's attack on our Minnesotan and American values.

Congressional Republicans must not silently support President Trump's action out of political fear while thousands of fully-vetted refugees now fear for their lives. This is not a time for political cowardice, but for courage in the face of a policy that will needlessly destroy lives. On Monday, when Congress goes into session, Democrats and Republicans must stand united as Americans and reject this extreme presidential action. Anything less is to be complicit in President Trump's cruel attack on immigrants and refugees.

It is a sad irony that President Trump's actions came on Holocaust Remembrance Day, when we also reckon with America's refusal — out of sheer religious bigotry — to welcome refugees fleeing the Nazi regime. President Trump's decision adds a new chapter to that national shame."

Rep. Keith Ellison, U.S. House District 5
Rep. Keith Ellison, U.S. House District 5
William Lager | MPR News graphic

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, DFL-Minneapolis, who represents the city of Minneapolis and parts of Anoka, Ramsey and Hennepin counties in the state's 5th District, posted this response on his Facebook page Saturday:

"Minnesotans know that our country is at its best when our policies reflect our values of generosity and inclusion. We've opened our doors to immigrants and refugees from around the world, including Somalia and Sudan, and our community is better for it. They're are our teachers, our doctors, and our small business owners. They're our friends and neighbors.

This executive order runs contrary to everything we cherish about America.

President Trump's Muslim ban will threaten the lives of thousands of refugees seeking asylum. It will make it harder to fight extremists in the Middle East who frame the conflict as a religious war between Christianity and Islam. It will undermine our international credibility and diplomatic strength. It will encourage resentment and fear between Americans of different faiths. And it will lead to more hate crimes and attacks on racial and religious minorities.

The order will also give preference to Christians fleeing Muslim-majority countries. These people are genuine refugees who deserve our compassion and support, but this preference is further proof that Donald Trump's administration is actively trying to divide people.

We can resist this radical agenda. But we have to stand together. As progressives. As immigrants. As neighbors. As Americans.

Today my spirit is with the Somali, Sudanese, and other immigrant communities in my district. I share their grief. Thousands of Americans have relatives and friends in the countries Trump has blacklisted, and I share in their anguish as well.

To everyone afraid of what this executive order will mean for you and your country, I say: 'You are not alone. We are with you. And we will fight for you.'"

Rep. Tom Emmer, U.S. House District 6
Rep. Tom Emmer, U.S. House District 6
William Lager | MPR News graphic

U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Delano, who represents suburbs north and west of Minneapolis and northwest to St. Cloud in Minnesota's 6th District, released this statement Monday:

"The United States and the State of Minnesota have a strong history of welcoming immigrants and refugees from every corner of the globe. This is a history that I proudly embrace and support. However, there is no greater priority of mine in Congress, or of the federal government, than to ensure the security and safety of the American people.

Attacks in Paris and San Bernardino have demonstrated the danger that refugee and visa programs can pose if the vetting process is not thorough and secure. This Executive Order takes temporary and important steps to reevaluate and enhance our refugee and visa screening process. While improvements may be needed, I am confident we will work in Congress to ensure that every American remains safe, and that we can guarantee the safety of those that come to the United State seeking shelter and refuge."

Editor's note: Most of attackers tied to the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris were Belgian or French by citizenship or birth, and not from any of the countries listed in Trump's travel ban. Authorities have not been able to identify the nationalities of others with suspected ties to the attacks. A month after the Paris attacks, Syed Rizwan Farook, who was born in the U.S., and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, who was in the U.S. on a K-1 visa and had a Pakistani passport, led a fatal attack at an office holiday party in San Bernardino, Calif.

Rep. Collin Peterson, U.S. House District 7
Rep. Collin Peterson, U.S. House District 7
William Lager | MPR News graphic

U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, DFL-Detroit Lakes, represents most of western Minnesota in the state's 7th District, from the Canadian border to just north of Iowa. He told MPR News Monday:

"In the past I have supported increased vetting of those wishing to enter our country.

That said, I have reservations with how the Administration has gone about this process with a broad stroke of the pen, instead of working with Congress to ensure a dialogue and getting to a sensible solution that protects Americans at home and our troops abroad while maintaining our core values and respect for Constitutional rights."

Rep. Rick Nolan, U.S. House District 8
Rep. Rick Nolan, U.S. House District 8
William Lager | MPR News graphic

U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, DFL-Crosby, represents Minnesota's 8th District, which covers most of the northeastern part of the state, from the Arrowhead west to the Brainerd lakes area and on south to the northern reaches of the Twin Cities metro area. He posted this message on his Facebook page Monday:

"Friday brought a dramatic Presidential executive order on immigration. In essence, it's a ban directed at Muslims — a clear violation of Constitutional protections against religious discrimination that rolls back our Nation's long, hard fought battle for greater inclusion.

In a nutshell, President Trump suspended entry of all refugees into the U.S. for four months, stopped Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. indefinitely, and banned citizens from seven predominately Muslim nations from coming to America for 90 days.

These steps are both radical and unnecessary. To be clear, under new legislation passed with my support during the last session of Congress, we already have the toughest, most comprehensive refugee vetting process of any nation in the world.

Before entering this country, refugees undergo 18 to 24 months of investigations by multiple U.S. intelligence agencies. It's as good a process as is humanly possible to implement. That said, if there are things that need fixing, we should do it through comprehensive and bipartisan immigration reform — something Republican leaders have consistently refused to allow."

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