By, KEYC Mankato — Congressman Tim Walz was scheduled to speak at MSU about the global refugee crisis months ago.
It was by coincidence that the event takes place the same week he broke from most in his party, and voted for a bill that would make it much more difficult for refugees to enter the U.S.
Minnesota and Mankato itself are homes to vibrant refugee populations, and they were in attendance this afternoon for the Congressman's talk.
Walz says, "The best way to address the refugee crisis is to not create refugees. The plans that have to do that and the things we have to look at are going to ask us to challenge some assumptions."
And in this case, considering his vote... the concern may have been over other's assumptions of his position.
Walz says, "If someone is expressing concern for the safety and security of the nation - it's not mutually exclusive that they don't care about women and children. To make that assumption sets us off on the wrong foot. And vice versa. If someone expresses compassing and makes the point that the vast majority of these people are not terrorists and are fleeing terror themselves, or fighting the terror that we're against, looking for comfort - that doesn't mean they don't care about national security."
Upon finishing his lecture, the first two questions the Congressman took were attacks from his political Left.
Kathy Brynaert says, "Aren't we in fact creating an impediment that will prolong the time it takes the Syrian applicants to come to our country?"
Walz's answer to this question was illuminating, saying that as long as Obama Administration officials sign off on the new refugees, nothing would stop them from coming over.
Walz says, "In life there are no guarantees. But we can get as close to it as possible. It forces the director to say they personally are comfortable with the risks here and sign off on it. I think some of you know where this is going - someone doesn't want to take responsibility for the final signature. For those that say this puts political ownership on the [Obama] Administration - that may be a fair critique. But I'd say it's fair for checks and balances."
That's how it would work in theory, but that added pressure probably also means that refugee numbers will be reduced.
Bikash Mazumder, an international studies sophomore from India says, "This to us is outrageous. My main concern is he preaches all this compassion, which we want, but his words don't match his actions."
Walz's potential Republican opponent, Jim Hagedorn, was also in the audience today. And despite the fact Walz crossed the aisle to vote for the Republican proposal, Hagedorn says the move still doesn't go far enough.
"The actual plan from President Obama and Congressman Walz and others is to bring 200,000 new refugees from predominantly Muslim countries into the United States over the next two years. I think that's a bad idea. Minnesota already has a terrorist recruiting problem. To protect the people we need a complete refugee timeout."