Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump have added a rather odd reason to their long list of arguments against Syrian refugees coming the U.S.: The desert-dwelling refugees aren't cut out for Minnesota's harsh winters.
"A friend of mine lives in Minnesota and he calls me up and he says, 'Can you imagine, it's 130 degrees in Syria and now they want to send some of them up to Minnesota where it's 30 degrees,'" Trump said at campaign event Monday. "These people are going to be very very unhappy. It's cold, and beautiful, but it's cold."
Huckabee cited similar concerns about how the Syrian refugees would fare in brutal winter temperatures. "Why would we remove people from a desert climate?" the former governor of Arkansas and Republican presidential candidate told Breitbart News radio Monday. "There's no reason under God's earth to send people who have lived in a desert their whole life, who may speak Arabic or some other language, and put them in Minnesota for the winter. Can anybody tell me that makes any sense, it simply does not."
Contrary to both Huckabee and Trump's concerns, Minnesota is, historically, actually a very welcoming spot for refugees. Vox reports that last year Minnesota took in 2,232 refugees from other countries — a number that's double the U.S. average of refugees per capita. And — big shocker here — an ideal climate doesn't exactly top refugees' list of concerns when searching for a new place to live:
It turns out that climate isn't actually that important in determining whether refugees can successfully integrate into the U.S. As the MinnPost wrote earlier this year, citing a refugee policy expert from the University of Minnesota: "In deciding where to place refugees, agencies look for areas with strong local job markets, sufficient space in quality school districts, affordable housing, and a decent public transportation infrastructure." [Vox]
Certainly the refugees fleeing war-torn countries will appreciate Trump and Huckabee's concerns about their comfort, though.