A big crowd turned out for Congressman Tom Emmer’s townhall meeting Wednesday night. It wasn’t a good night for Emmer because he let his temper get the better of him early in the event.
The chief point of contention was over the refugee resettlement program. When citizens asked for a moratorium on the program until after an economic impact statement had been done, Congressman Emmer asked why anyone would have a problem with people in the United States legally. When an unidentified member of the audience said that refugees were draining St. Cloud’s resources, Emmer responded by saying that he’d seen the city of St. Cloud’s budget and that it looked fine. At that point, several people booed.
The main complaint is that refugees are depleting the school district’s funding. They’re allegedly also using health care programs, too. It was noted that school budgets aren’t part of St. Cloud’s operating budget. That’s shown in the school district’s budget. Also, the health programs that refugees are using are administered by Stearns County, not the City of St. Cloud.
Looking at St. Cloud’s city operating budget wouldn’t tell Congressman Emmer anything about the refugee resettlement’s financial impact on St. Cloud.
At another point, Emmer got upset about the possibility of Syrian refugees heading to St. Cloud, calling that possibility the “Syrian myth.” He later said that he’d checked with the State Department, who said that there wasn’t a chance of Syrian refugees coming to Minnesota.
Sue from St. Cloud talked about how the federal government had imposed this program on St. Cloud without St. Cloud having a vote in the matter. At that point, Emmer repeated the question of why anyone would have a problem with people legally here in the United States.
At the start of the event, Congressman Emmer said that he wanted to hear from the people and he wanted to do the listening. The final person to talk at last night’s event criticized Congressman Emmer, saying that statements about St. Cloud not getting a vote on the refugee resettlement program were disrespectful. The unidentified woman said she got the impression that he wanted to rule from DC rather than serve the people in the district.
Emmer’s temper got the better of him several times during the event. That plus the perceived disrespect combined for a tough event.