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Welcoming new refugees, among the areas where Johnson, Walz differ in Minnesota governor’s race



It may not top the list of issues Minnesotans will take with them to the polls to vote for governor, but it’s an easy one to separate Republican Jeff Johnson and Democrat Tim Walz.

Walz has said the state’s large immigrant and refugee population adds to diversity and strengthens the state’s economy. Johnson, meanwhile, says enough is enough.

He wants to suspend Minnesota’s involvement in the nation’s refugee resettlement program, staking out the unusual position of calling for an end to the welcome mat that the state has, until now, left at its front door.

Johnson says of refugee immigrants, “They’re not achieving the American dream the way we want them to.”

Among Johnson’s arguments is that refugees coming to the state have less than a 50 percent employment rate but a recent study found Minnesota will increasingly need additional immigrants — refugees or otherwise — to meet the needs of employers for workers in the state.

“We have 13 percent of the refugees in this county but we have about two percent of the population,” Johnson said. “So Minnesota has done more than any other state — not by a little but by a lot.

“Now I think it’s time to step back and say, ‘Is this still working the way that it used to?’”

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