3/16 Erik Paulsen Correspondence Corner : Emmer & Lewis Ignore Liberian Refugees

Erik Paulsen regularly issues a video Correspondence Corner in which he responds to constituent questions.
It is a great ploy — Congressman Paulsen determines what question is to be answered … thus, providing him an opportunity to portray himself as effectively responding to issues that he wishes to address as if they are the most critical issues that voters want addressed.
The MN Political Roundtable will be evaluating Congressman Paulsen’s responses and encouraging readers to offer their own assessments.

Yesterday’s topic: H.R.3441 – the so-called “Save Local Business Act

Today’s topic: H.R. 5072: Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act of 2018

In this week’s Correspondence Corner, Erik Paulsen answers an email from Roger in Eden Prairie concerning Liberian refugees who were welcomed into our country via Temporary Protective Status (TPS) and allowed to remain here under Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) protections.

Congressman Paulsen had an easy response as he had already expressed his support on the House floor during March 5 Morning speeches.

Congressman Paulsen recently met with impacted Minnesotans and offered this message :

“The lives and wellbeing of the Liberians living in our own community are at stake, and this is too important to let politics get in the way.“

“I’m grateful to the representatives of our Liberian community for coming to Washington to make their case directly to my fellow lawmakers and I will continue working across the aisle in urging the Administration to take action.”

Congressman Paulsen also joined with others of the Minnesota delegation (Representatives MN-01 Tim Walz, MN-04 Betty McCollum, MN-05 Keith Ellison, MN-07 Collin Peterson, and MN-08 Rick Nolan) writing to President Trump :

Our state of Minnesota has one of the largest Liberian populations in the country. Many of them have been in our state for decades, and they are an important part of our communities, where they serve as business owners, teachers, and health care workers. It is for this reason that we ask you to extend the DED protections for Liberians now in effect before they expire at the end of this month.

Congressman Paulsen’s efforts are commendable …
yet, a couple of thoughts …

When Congressman Paulsen says he “will continue working across the aisle in urging the Administration to take action” , don’t ya have to ask WHERE are the other two members of the Minnesota delegation — Republicans MN-02 Jason Lewis and MN-06 Tom Emmer ?
Why didn’t they sign the letter ?

Minnesota is home to one of the largest Liberian communities in the United States — many of them live in the Twin Cities. For the last twenty-five years, many have sought and realized the American dream through hard work, through drive and determination. They’ve become small business owners and leaders in our community.

As Congressman Paulsen said

“Mr. Speaker I’ve had the distinct pleasure of getting to know members of the Liberian community personally.”

“I’ve heard their stories and have seen their love for America first hand.

However, they’re facing uncertainty today because their temporary period of protection is just about to expire so it is imperative that action be taken so that they would be able to live here and work here and continue to offer their contribution as important members of our community.”

Yet somehow the message has not gotten to Congressmen Lewis and Emmer.
Getting Democrats to support the bill can be handled by the Democrats, what is needed is Congressman Paulsen to get Republicans to support it — especially Minnesota Republicans.

That said, this looming deadline was well known … and the anxiety from Minnesota-based Liberian refugees was documented in a November 20, 2017 story in the Star-Tribune.

Yet, Congressman Paulsen has been a little slow to act.
Yes, he has co-sponsored H.R. 5072: Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act of 2018 … on February 26, 2018 (months after the Strib story) and he is the lone Republican to date.
FYI Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith have sponsored the companion bill S.2275 – Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act of 2018.

But, when the issue was raised during the Obama years, Congressman Paulsen did not sponsor H.R.1293 – Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act of 2011 or even during the most recent session H.R.6532 – Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act of 2016.

During the Obama years, his administration approved TPS DED status. In September of 2016, President Obama extended DED for Liberians an additional 18 months (March 31, 2018).

Elections matter.

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in the Trump era is a different story.
The Trump Administration has ended TPS for thousands of Nicaraguans and Haitians in 2017 and in 2018, Trump ended the same relief program for nearly two hundred thousand Salvadorans. However, in January, the Trump Administration extended TPS for Syrian refugees through September 30, 2019

Some members of Congress have offered legislation that addresses the broad situation.
H.R.4184 – ESPERER Act of 2017 “Extending Status Protection for Eligible Refugees with Established Residency Act of 2017”
H.R.4253 – American Promise Act of 2017
H.R.4384 – ASPIRE-TPS Act of 2017 “Act to Sustain the Protection of Immigrant Residents Earned through TPS Act of 2017”
But Congressman Paulsen has not sponsored them … he is focused exclusively on the people that he has met

Congressman Erik Paulsen (MN-03) meets with leaders of Minnesota’s Liberian community in his Washington, D.C. office on March 14, 2018

Let’s hope that this is not just another case of #PhotoOpErik using #PaulsenSpin to present the #PaulsenRecord as one that is actively engaged on the people in his district.

Instead, Congressman Paulsen can do something … demand that a provision be included in the “must-pass” omnibus spending bill that no monies may be spent to deport previously approved TPS DED Liberian refugees (heh, did you know that the government may shut down this week without it).

Yes, Congressman Paulsen may be late to the issue, but let’s give him credit for taking a stand.
Yet, ya gotta ask if someone else represented the District, would they have addressed it sooner ?

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