Good morning and welcome to Wednesday. President Donald Trump is due to campaign in Duluth this evening, as controversy surrounds his administration’s immigration policy. Here’s the Digest.
1. Some Republicans welcome President Trump’s visit, others don’t. Party-endorsed U.S. Senate candidate Karin Housley and gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson say they’ll be at the president’s rally , as will Pete Stauber, the 8th District hopeful backed by Trump, U.S. Senate candidate Jim Newberger and Jim Hagedorn, a Republican vying for the open 1st Congressional District seat in southern Minnesota. Other Republicans, though, are wary of being seen too closely tied to Trump. That includes U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen, who’s in a tough re-election campaign in a suburban Twin Cities District that two years ago voted overwhelmingly for Clinton even while giving Paulsen a fifth term.Paulsen won’t be at the Duluth rally. An adviser cited the possibility of votes in Washington as the reason. Also on the fence: former GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who is seeking a return to the state’s top office. (MPR News)
2. Democrats are pounding Trump on immigration. Minnesota Democrats called on the White House Tuesday to reverse the “zero tolerance” policy that’s separated immigrant families and their children at the southern border. DFL U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, who is running for governor, held a press conference to condemn the policy, which calls for increased prosecution of adults trying to cross the border. As a result, nearly 2,000 children were separated from their parents between April and May, according to the Department of Homeland Security. “It is immoral, it is barbaric. We can do better,” Walz said. “This is not who we are. There are ways to talk about immigration, there are ways to talk about immigration enforcement that keeps true to our values.” He also took aim at the Republican gubernatorial candidates in the race, calling on Tim Pawlenty and Jeff Johnson to “take a stand” on the issue. Separately, gubernatorial candidate and Attorney General Lori Swanson signed on with 19 other Democratic attorneys general to a letter demanding an end to the separations. The state prosecutors say in a letter to the Trump administration that the policy is inhumane and draconian. Both of Minnesota’s U.S. senators, Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, are also criticizing the Trump administration for the policy. Smith has even called on Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to resign from her post after Nielsen said the administration does not have a separation policy, “period.” (MPR News)
3. Tariffs will be a big issue during presidential visit. Trump is popular on the Iron Range and his call for tariffs on imported steel and aluminum are welcomed by a mining industry that’s already been seeing a comeback. Yet even here, amid the blue-collar industries that Trump said his policies are designed to help, there are concerns that his protectionist mind-set could ultimately hurt as many people as it will help. Already, factories and even the mining operations are seeing hefty price increases for metal materials necessary to make their products. Minnesota Twist Drill in Chisholm is growing, hiring and planning a small addition to its plant next year. L&M Radiator in Hibbing already has a 100,000-square-foot addition in the works. But both companies are concerned with what tariffs may bring. “Here, we wave the American flag. But if [these tariffs cause] collateral damage that results in the loss of employees, that is just backwards. I see that as counterintuitive,” said Scott Allison, president of Minnesota Twist Drill, which has grown from about 50 workers in 2009 to 135 now. “I have 135 mouths to feed. And I am worried about them.” (Star Tribune)
4. Here’s more on the immigration policy that has led to the separation of families at the border. Since early May, 2,342 children have been separated from their parents after crossing the Southern U.S. border, according to the Department of Homeland Security, as part of a new immigration strategy by the Trump administration that has prompted widespread outcry. In April, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered prosecutors along the border to “adopt immediately a zero-tolerance policy” for illegal border crossings. That included prosecuting parents traveling with their children as well as people who subsequently attempted to request asylum. The policy is unique to the Trump administration. Previous administrations did not, as a general principle, separate all families crossing the U.S. border illegally. And the current administration could choose to end this practice and release families together from detention at any time. (NPR)
5. Back to the future for transportation in St. Paul. The Ramsey County Board became the fifth and final local government to endorse the proposed Riverview transit corridor — a modern streetcar connecting the downtown St. Paul Union Depot to the Mall of America in Bloomington, primarily along West Seventh Street. “All the local units of government have approved it — (Hennepin County), St. Paul, Bloomington, the Metropolitan Airports Commission,” said Commissioner Rafael Ortega, noting the next step is to seek state and federal funding through the Metropolitan Council. “We’re right behind the Rush Line. … Our three lines on the East Side are all in different stages of planning, or actually construction with the Gold Line.” The next stage will involve environmental review, design and engineering of the $1.4 billion – $2 billion line, which could begin construction as soon as 2028. Daily ridership is projected to reach 20,400 by the year 2040. (Pioneer Press)