Minnesota Republican lawmakers criticized the new Afghan refugee resettlement programs by the Minneapolis-based social welfare group Alight, formerly known as the American Refugee Committee, which was announced at a Saturday press conference by former Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), where the two asked for donations to support the effort.
“My hope is that we have improved the process, learning from our failings of the past. The conflict in Afghanistan was our nation’s longest,” said State Representative Jeremy Munson (R-Lake Crystal) to The Minnesota Sun.
“Thousands of Afghan citizens welcomed and supported our military,” Munson said.
“When our military pulled out of the conflict, we put these loyal Afghans in dire straits,” he said. “We owe them a shot at the American dream. Our reputation to solicit help in future conflicts rests on not abandoning those who helped us in our last.”
“Resettling refugees will more than likely raise concern across the state,” he said.
“Our focus on resettlement should be to integrate our new guests into American life,” Munson said.
“We failed in previous attempts by dumping them in housing and throwing money at them,” he said. “In the past, our government paid nonprofits like Catholic Charities hundreds of millions to resettle families, which upset many taxpayers.”
“Prior efforts to resettle refugees through non-profits did not have follow-through to make sure that the new Minnesota residents became contributing members of the community,” State Rep Munson said; adding, “Most immigrants have a great entrepreneurial spirit, but the agencies paid to resettle them primarily pushed entitlement programs – we can do better.”
Munson said that private donations like those that Klobuchar and Dayton are soliciting are noble, but will pale in comparison to money taxpayers will be responsible for in the years to come.
State Representative Erik Mortensen (R-Shakopee), however, said he is more concerned about Americans left behind in Afghanistan, vaccine mandates and inflation, than he is the resettlement of Afghan refugees.
Mortensen said the majority of Americans would agree with him.
According to a story that ran Sunday on FOX 9, Klobuchar and Dayton are teaming up with Alight, a global humanitarian organization, and Team Rubicon, a disaster response team, who have partnered together to provide homes for Afghan refugees.
Dayton who serves on Alight’s board of directors, said at his Saturday press conference with Klobuchar that the new initiative is necessary because President George W. Bush’s administration address Afghanistan’s economic issues 20 years ago.
In 2002, three weeks after U.S. forces defeated the Taliban, Afghan President Hamid Karzai appealed to the American government for economic help, because the Taliban had looted the country’s treasury.
“He pleaded with the U.S. to provide the financial and economic support to rebuild his country,” the former governor said. “Instead, the Bush Administration fabricated a nuclear threat to invade Iraq, and Afghanistan was left to languish economically.”
The Minnesota Department of Human Services requested that Alight locate and furnish homes for around 1,400 Afghan individuals and families, Dayton said.
Alight staffer at the press conference said the refugees are slated to arrive in about two months.
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