On a 3-2 margin, the Kandiyohi County Board voted Tuesday to continue allowing refugees to resettle in that west-central Minnesota county. The decision was prompted by a presidential executive order issued in September. Commissioner Harlan Madsen says the federal government put counties in this position because Congress can’t get past partisan gridlock and pass meaningful immigration reform. “That is what is so frustrating and so disappointing, so angering to me as a commissioner, is that we’re thrust into the situation of being the political pawn,” Madsen says.
Two commissioners voting “no” said they needed more information on the financial impact refugees have on local communities and schools. Commissioner Steve Ahmann said he’d like things done as in the 1970s and ’80s, when local churches paid to resettle Vietnamese and Hmong refugees. “Provided a place for them, found them jobs, did all of that. Right now it seems like the government is subcontracting that out and washing their hands of it,” he says.