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Government

Blum welcomes immigrants and Trump refugee 'pause'

29 new American citizens sworn in Friday in Cedar Rapids

U.S. Congressman Rod Blum
U.S. Congressman Rod Blum

CEDAR RAPIDS — United States Rep. Rod Blum welcomed 29 new American citizens in Cedar Rapids on Friday and thanked them for respecting the immigration laws of their adopted country.

“Congratulations my fellow Americans,” Blum told the new citizens during a swearing-in ceremony at the U.S. District Courthouse. Those taking the oath represent 20 countries from Brazil to Zambia. “Thank you for very much for participating in our immigration in the right way, the legal way.”

He welcomed the newcomers, including a member of the Army Reserve, who ranged in age from 24 to 68 to “the liberty, to the freedom, the personal responsibility of what American citizenship is.”

Blum didn’t see any incongruity between his welcome and the executive orders President Donald Trump is expected to sign that would suspend U.S. refugee programs for four months.

Trump’s “120-day pause” in resettling refugees from seven countries that are what Blum called “hotbeds of terrorism” makes sense to him after receiving classified briefings from the directors of the FBI and National Security Agency.

“I can’t tell you what they said, but the bottom line is they can’t properly vet people coming from war-torn areas like Syria and Iraq,” the Dubuque Republican said. “If we can’t vet people properly, then we shouldn’t be allowing them into our country. I’m supportive of that.”

Blum, who is beginning his second term representing the 20-county northeast Iowa 1st District, believes NATO-patrolled safe zones in those regions would better serve people displaced by war.

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“Then, when it’s safe, they are close, they can go back to their homes,” he said.

Blum also welcomed Trump’s actions to kick-start construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Although the cost — estimated between $12 billion and $15 billion — will increase the deficit in the short-term, over time it will reduce costs, Blum predicted.

“We’re going to save money in the long run by not spending money on social services for illegal immigrants,” he said. “They’re heavy users of social services, of police. We spend a lot of money, states do, cities do and the federal government does, on the problem of illegal immigration.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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