BEMIDJI, Minn. (AP) — U.S. Senate candidate Jason Lewis told an audience in Minnesota’s Beltrami County that elected officials did the right thing when they voted to ban resettlement of refugees earlier this month.
The northern Minnesota county became the first in the state to ban refugee resettlement. The move was allowed by local governments under an executive order signed by President Donald Trump, but a federal judge has since halted that order.
Beltrami County’s move will have little practical effect as no refugees have been resettled in there in the past five years.
Lewis is a former Republican congressman who is running for Senate.
“Your county took the decision to exercise, here’s a novel idea, are you ready for this? Self-government, and say, we want to pause on refugee resettlement,” Lewis told the roughly 100 people gathered at a public meeting Thursday. “The reaction from a far-away capital decided for me that I have to get up here and have your back. That’s why I’m here. I wanted to make certain that you are not alone.”
Minnesota Public Radio News reported that one man asked whether Muslims could be prevented from running for public office.
“I would not be in favor of that. Religious affiliation can never be a test for public office,” Lewis said.
Sherry Kloha, one of a few dozen present who supported refugees, said Lewis “purposefully chose a very contentious, very emotional topic to rally the troops.”
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