The St. Paul City Council unanimously resolved Wednesday to back the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States, so long as they are vetted to screen out potential terrorists.
“We need to remind people how important refugees have been to St. Paul . . . and that this city continues to get benefits from refugees and immigrants,” said Council Member Chris Tolbert, who sponsored the resolution.
Tolbert noted that many of the city’s Irish and German settlers were fleeing persecution when they came to St. Paul. He also pointed out that a current council member – Dai Thao – himself belonged to a refugee family from Laos. A refugee sitting in a camp right now, he said, could someday sit on the St. Paul City Council.
More than half the nation's governors have said their states won’t accept Syrian refugees, despite a vetting process that often takes up to two years to complete. Gov. Mark Dayton is one among about a dozen governors who supports their resettlement in the United States.
The St. Paul council accepted an amendment offered by Council Member Dan Bostrom that refugees would be welcome “when properly vetted.” Thao said that language was fine with him.
“I really appreciate St. Paul, the United States, Minnesota, for giving my family an opportunity to contribute to this country,” Thao said.
The resolution says that the city of St. Paul supports Minnesota and the United States “accepting and welcoming immigrants and refugees regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or country of origin.”
“These are victims,” Council Member Dave Thune said. “If we don’t support taking care of victims of war, crime, what kind of country are we?”