There have been a lot of headlines lately about how governors from southern border states are ferrying or flying illegal immigrants from the southern border to blue states so they can learn what local communities in those states have been dealing with for the past year, after more than 2 million people entered the United States illegally
We spoke to new Missoula Mayor Jordan Hess and County Commissioner Josh Slotnick about how the city and county would respond if they received notification that a busload of illegal immigrants was arriving in Garden City from the southern border would .
Mayor Hess said the step was inappropriate.
“We often have to pick up the pieces at the local level when politics at the federal or federal level is not working as it should,” Mayor Hess began. “That’s the context for it. There are actions at different levels of government that result in local governments having to mess up. I think that’s an important context and I think it’s an inappropriate way to deal with a humanitarian crisis.”
That being said, Mayor Hess said the Missoula community will find a way to help those less fortunate.
“We would do what we always do in Missoula, we would find a way to face the moment as a city and through our community partners, and we would seek to reduce or minimize the suffering, to minimize the challenges facing our community and working through it the best we could as a city and through our service provider partners.”
County Commissioner Slotnick was much harsher in his criticism of those who would bring illegal immigrants to Missoula.
“I’m really just horrified at the idea that those in power would use extremely vulnerable people as pawns in a game for political gain, to gain press for themselves and gain credibility with their base and strengthen their brand,” began Slotnick. “That is absolutely what is happening here. These border state governors are shipping people against their will and they have no idea what is happening to them to places affiliated with the other political party so they can shake their fists and stir up outrage.”
Like Mayor Hess, Commissioner Slotnick said that if Missoula were placed in such a position, the community would respond with compassion.
“Well, if 75 people ended up on our doorstep with nothing, who couldn’t speak the language and just standing by the side of the road, we’d find ways to get them something to eat and a place to stay and figure out what to do next “, he said. “We would use very old-fashioned values here and not let anyone suffer unduly, especially if it has nothing to do with what they did. So I’m not saying we’re going to put up a big ‘open’ sign and ‘please send us your refugees’ or anything, but if 75 people land on our doorstep with nothing, we’d absolutely respond and help them.”
To date, illegal immigrants have been sent from the southern border to Chicago, New York City, Washington, DC and most recently to Martha’s Vineyard near Cape Cod.
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