Wednesday January 11, 2017
On Tuesday, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) used a confirmation hearing for Attorney General-designate Sen. Jeff Sessions (D-AL) to deliver a message straight to the president-elect: Minnesota’s Somali-American community is not a “disaster.”
Donald Trump described Somali immigration to Minnesota as a “disaster” during his one general election campaign appearance in the state, on November 6.
“Here in Minnesota, you’ve seen first-hand the problems caused with faulty refugee vetting, with large numbers of Somali refugees coming into your state with your knowledge, without your support or approval,” said Trump, “with some of them joining ISIS and spreading their extremist views all over the country and all over the world.”
Late in the confirmation hearing for Sessions, Franken rebuked the president-elect and addressed what he said were similar remarks made by Sessions.
“To stoke that kind of fear and hatred was an insult, I believe, to every Minnesotan,” he said. “It was offensive, it was irresponsible, but it wasn’t really surprising.”
He went on to criticize Sessions for saying in June that Americans “must face the uncomfortable reality that not only are immigrants from Muslim-majority countries coming to the United States, radicalizing, and attempting to engage in acts of terrorism… but also, their first-generation American children are susceptible to the toxic radicalization of terrorist organizations.”
“We don’t take this attitude, and it’s dangerous to take it,” Franken said, during a five-minute monologue about immigration, integration, and his own experiences with Minnesota’s Somali-American community.