Mayor and Commissioner on How Missoula Would Handle Illegals
There have been lots of headlines recently about how governors from southern border states are busing or flying illegal immigrants from the southern border to blue states so that they can experience what local communities in those states have been dealing with for the past year after over 2 million people have illegally crossed into the U.S.
We reached out to new City of Missoula Mayor Jordan Hess as well as County Commissioner Josh Slotnick on how the city and the county would respond if they received notice that a bus load of illegal immigrants from the southern border were due to arrive in the Garden City.
Mayor Hess said the move would be inappropriate.
“We're often at the local level left picking up the pieces when state or federal policies don't work out the way they should.” began Mayor Hess. “That's the context for this. There are actions at different levels of government that are causing local governments to have to scramble. I think that’s an important context and I think it's an inappropriate way to handle a humanitarian crisis.”
That being said, Mayor Hess said the community of Missoula would find a way to help those less fortunate.
“We would do what we always do in Missoula, we'd figure out a way to meet the moment as a city and through our community partners and we would try to reduce or minimize the suffering, minimize the challenges for our community and work through it the best we could as a city and through our service provider partners.”
County Commissioner Slotnick was much more severe in his criticism of those who would bus illegal immigrants to Missoula.
“I'm really just appalled at the idea that people in power would use super vulnerable human beings as a pawn in a game to make political gain to get themselves press and earn credibility with their base and enhance their brand,” began Slotnick. “That's absolutely what is happening here. These governors from border States are shipping people against their will and they have no idea what's happening to them to places that are of the other political party so that they can shake their fists and create some outrage.”
Like Mayor Hess, Commissioner Slotnick also said if Missoula were put in such a position that the community would respond with compassion.
“Well, if 75 people landed on our doorstep who have nothing, who can't speak the language and are just standing there by the side of the road, we would figure out ways to get them some food and some shelter and figure out what to do next,” he said. “We would use very old-fashioned values here and let no one suffer unduly, especially if it has nothing to do with anything they've done. So I'm not saying we're putting up a big ‘open’ sign and ‘please send us your refugees’ or anything like that, but if 75 people landed on our doorstep who had nothing, we would absolutely respond and help them out.”
So far, illegal immigrants from the southern border have been sent to Chicago, New York City, Washington, D.C., and most recently to Martha’s Vineyard near Cape Cod.