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‘Trump hates us’: President's Minneapolis visit gets no welcome from Minnesota Somalis

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President Trump, at a campaign rally
President Trump, at a campaign rally at the Target Center on Thursday in Minneapolis, called Bob Kroll, head of the Minneapolis police union, up to the stage.
Evan Frost | MPR News

This story comes to you from Sahan Journal, a nonprofit newsroom dedicated to providing authentic news reporting about Minnesota's new immigrants and refugees. MPR News is a partner with Sahan Journal and will be sharing stories between SahanJournal.com and MPRNews.org.

At the Karmel Mall in south Minneapolis, Dahabo Diini sat in her shop chatting with some of her friends about President Trump’s campaign rally Thursday night in Minneapolis.

She did most of the talking. Others listened attentively.

She talked of how, since she came to America in 1993, she had never seen a president like Trump. Former presidents, she said, at least didn’t overtly display their hatred toward other groups.

“Donald Trump hates us,” Diini said. “He hates the Somali society. He said Somalis won’t be resettled in the United States.”

Others nodded in agreement.

At the Target Center rally Thursday night, Trump attacked past policies that allowed the resettlement of Somali refugees in Minnesota.

“For many years, leaders in Washington brought large numbers of refugees to your state from Somalia,” Trump said at the rally.

The crowd booed.

“Since coming into office I have reduced refugee resettlement by 85 percent,” he added.

Since Trump’s election, the arrival of refugees from Somalia has drastically decreased to a new low due to his travel ban from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Somalia. In 2018, only 48 people came from Somalia to Minnesota. That number was more than 1,400 people in 2016.

At the rally, Trump attacked DFL U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, the first congresswoman of Somali background to represent a district in Minnesota.

“How do you have such a person representing you in Minnesota? I’m very angry at you people right now. She is a disgrace to our country,” Trump said. “She is one of the big reasons that I am going to win and the Republican Party is going to win Minnesota in 13 months.”

Omar responded on Twitter by tweeting: “His hate is no match for our movement.”

Minnesota DFL U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who also responded to the president via Twitter, said Trump should “stop using immigrants and refugees as political pawns!”

“Immigrants and refugees have helped make our state a wonderful place to live and work — which is far more than this President has done,” Klobuchar tweeted.

Trump’s Minneapolis visit comes nearly three years after he singled out Somalis at a campaign rally at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in 2016, just two days before the election.

“Here in Minnesota you have seen firsthand the problems caused with faulty refugee vetting, with large numbers of Somali refugees coming into your state, without your knowledge,” Trump said in 2016, with thousands of his audience spilling outside of the airport hangar.

“You’ve suffered enough in Minnesota,” he told them.

Thursday’s visit also coincides with the release of a new book, “Border Wars: Inside Trump’s Assault on Immigration,” which quotes Trump — a few months after he won the presidency — asking his former acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke to ban refugees from “f— Somalia.”

“Both [Trump] and [White House senior policy adviser Stephen] Miller seemed to have a particular dislike for Somalia, often citing it or its nationals when they spoke of the potential dangers of refugees and other immigrants,” authors Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Michael D. Shear wrote in the book.

At the Somali mall, shop owners and customers overwhelming said they are more energized to come out to vote in 2020. As U.S. citizens, they said they would make sure to defeat Trump at the polls.

“The only thing I know for certain is that I will not vote for Trump,” said Ibrahim Dahiye, who sells electronic accessories. “I know he hates us.”

Immigration lawyer Kim Hunter said refugees from Somalia are stuck in refugee camps because of the travel ban.

Families who are trying to bring their families in Minnesota are exhausted and drained by the amount of extra worry and work that goes into fighting the system, she said, adding, “The Muslim ban is devastating.”

Sayid Abdirahman, a truck driver who visited the mall, said Trump’s Muslim travel ban had prevented him from reuniting his wife, who lives in Sweden, but doesn’t yet have Swedish citizenship.

When everything was approved, he said, the United States Supreme Court upheld the travel ban. His wife was told she won’t get a visa to go to the U.S. because she holds a Somali passport.

“Trump doesn’t have a lot of support in the Somali community,” Sayid said. “His immigration policies are racist.”

He’s now planning to go to Sweden instead to visit his wife.

He vowed to vote in 2020.

Correction (Oct. 11, 2019): President Trump decried “faulty refugee vetting” during his rally Thursday in Minneapolis. An earlier version of this story incorrectly quoted him as saying “filthy refugee vetting.”