Anti-Refugee Bill in MN House and Senate

UPDATE:

Republican Rep. Jim Knoblach of St. Cloud speaks on the House floor in St. Paul on Thursday, March 19, 2015. Knoblach has reclaimed the chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee after an eight year absence. (Pioneer Press: Ben Garvin)

 (Photo credit: Pioneer Press, Ben Garvin)

#unitecloud talked with Representative Jim Knoblach yesterday about the anti- refugee bill that we’ve been telling you about. We were happy to hear that his opinions on the bill are:

1. The bill is poorly written and lacks basic information – such as how much this audit would cost and who would pay for it.
2. The bill has not had any hearings that he is aware of and it is not likely to get traction this session.
3. If it was presented on the house floor as an amendment to a current omnibus bill, he personally would stand up and speak against it because it has not come through the House Ways and Means Committee, which he chairs.
4. If he hears any rumblings about the bill, he will let #unitecloud know. We have told him that we would testify against this bill!
 
Thanks again for all your support – especially for those of you that have written our city council, county commissioners, and legislators/senators that have signed this bill, telling them that you do not support their actions. We live in America where the government is designed to be by the people, for the people. It is our right – and, I would say, our DUTY – to stand up against bills like this one that are clearly not thought out, not done with integrity, and most certainly not backed by research or necessity. #unitecloud, this fight is not over. But, we are strong. Our voice is being heard.

We will not back down, we will not surrender. We shall overcome the marginalization of our neighbors! And, we will do this as one Central MN community against hatred.

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minnesota-capitol-582Minnesota government officials (including many from Central MN) are attempting to pass bills in both the House and the Senate concerning the cost of the national refugee resettlement program. In the beginning of April, the Stearns County Commissioners Board voted unanimously to draft a resolution in support of these bills. Their next meeting is this coming Tuesday, April 19th, at 9am, during which the “Resolution in Support of Legislative Transparency” is in on the agenda to be passed.

Summary of Minnesota Bills SF 2843 and HF 3034

Both bills propose conducting independent third-party financial audits of federal, state, local and nonprofit spending related to refugee resettlement costs and other services provided to refugees in Minnesota. To read the bills in their entirety, click on the links above.

refugees-are-human-beings-oki#unitecloud concerns:

  • How much is this going to cost? There is no mention of the proposed cost in the bills. But, knowing the scope of the project, it would be a TON of money.
  • Why is this even a thing? Don’t we have more important pressing issues to worry about like our hungry children and our homeless veterans?
  • Why are our elected officials taking their time to work on this? What about our exhaustive infrastructure needs and economic disparities?
  • Why are is our government wanting to put non-profits that are assisting refugees on the defensive? Think about that – locally, it would be places like Lutheran Social Services and Catholic Charities. These organizations don’t ask people if they came here as a refugee before they help someone. They help PEOPLE, no qualifiers needed.
  • Stearns County already came out with a 60+ page report on public assistance because a local group was hell-bent on knowing the cost of assisting refugees. Check out the Times article on that report here, and our follow up article with a personal story here.
  • What type of message does this send to refugees in our state?

I am a Stearns County resident, and I do not support these bills nor the resolution set to pass on Tuesday. I called my county commissioner and the commissioner board chair and shared with them my concerns and asked for a platform to speak on Tuesday.

What can you do?

  • Call or e-mail the Senators and Representatives that are authors or co-authors on this bill. (contact info. below)
  • Call or e-mail the Stearns County Commisioners to tell them your thoughts on the support resolution. (contact info. here)
  • Let #unitecloud know if you hear of any other counties making resolutions like Stearns County is attempting to so we can speak with them!
  • Tell us your ideas for any other ways to combat these bills.

Central Minnesota Senators who are Authors or Co-Authors of SF 2843

  1. John Pederson (R) District 14
  2. Bruce Anderson (R) District 29
    • 651-296-5981
    • E-mail: sen.bruce.anderson@senate.mn
    • Represents Monticello, Buffalo and Annandale
  3. Scott Newman (R) District 18
    • 651-296-4131
    • sen.scott.newman@senate.mn
    • Represents Litchfield, Dassel, Cokato and Hutchinson
  4. David Brown (R) District 15
    1. 651-296-8075
    2. sen.david.brown@senate.mn
    3. Represents Clearwater, Clear Lake, Becker, Rice, Milaca and Princeton

Central Minnesota Representatives who are Authors of HF 3034

  1. Jim Newberger (R) District 15B
    • 651-296-2451
    • rep.jim.newberger@house.mn
    • Represents Clear Lake, Clearwater, Becker, Foley and Rice
  2. Sondra Erickson (R) District 15A
    • 651-296-6746
    • rep.sondra.erickson@house.mn
    • Represents Milaca and Princeton
About the Author

Natalie Ringsmuth

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Natalie grew up in Central Minnesota and received her Music Education degree from Concordia College in Moorhead. She taught middle school choir in Georgia and worked in the church sector for over a decade. She now works as a legal assistant at Tripiciano Immigration Law, a trainer with the CARE (Community Anti-Racism Education) Team at SCSU (St Cloud State University), and as Founder and Director of #unitecloud, a non-profit working to reduce racial, religious, and cultural tensions in Central MN. She is a member of the Community Impact Team at United Way of Central MN and is a member of the St Cloud District 742 school board. In her spare time (haha) she loves to spend time with her husband and 3 children.