It’s pretty clear that St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis will say or do anything to avoid having an honest discussion about the costs that Somali refugees cause that St. Cloud taxpayers pay for.

According to the Times article, Kleis “calls the proposed moratorium unconstitutional and said that the city’s budget doesn’t fund refugee resettlement.” What Kleis omits in his statement is that refugees cost the city money in terms of law enforcement costs, city health inspections and other services.

Kleis has also argued that money spent on education isn’t part of the city budget so it shouldn’t count towards the city budget. While it’s technically true to say that the School Board budget is separate, it’s equally true to say that the taxpayers don’t notice that distinction because it’s part of their property tax bill. It’s a distinction without a difference to taxpayers.

Kleis is also quoted as saying that “cities clearly don’t have a role in immigration. This is a federal issue.” That’s another slippery answer. I’m not disputing the fact that the federal government sets immigration policy. What I’m disputing, however, is the fact that cities have specific responsibilities.

For instance, the Refugee Act of 1980 “states in 8 U.S.C. 1522(2)(A): ‘The Director and the Federal agency administering subsection (b)(1), shall consult regularly (not less often than quarterly) with State and local governments and private nonprofit voluntary agencies concerning the sponsorship process and the intended distribution of refugees among the States and localities before their placement in those States and localities.'” That’s a specific responsibility given by the federal government to “local governments.” They didn’t suggest that the federal government work with local governments. They instructed the federal government to work with local governments.

If Mayor Kleis isn’t willing to do the things that he’s required to do by statute, then it’s time for him to retire. St. Cloud requires a full-time mayor, not a career politician who picks and chooses which important responsibilities he’ll do and which responsibilities he’ll ignore.

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