#Minnesota think tank VP suspended over comments to New York Times about Somali refugees

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Kim Crockett, vice president of a Minnesota think tank, has been placed on an unpaid 30-day disciplinary suspension for comments she made about Somali-Americans in a recent New York Times story examining the resistance to refugee resettlement in St. Cloud.

The article, published Thursday under the headline “ ’These People Aren’t Coming From Norway’: Refugees in a Minnesota City Face a Backlash,” quoted several anti-immigration activists who are advocating for an increasingly explicit anti-Muslim agenda. Sources sounded off on their fears that the influx of Somali immigrants to the predominantly white region is fundamentally changing the culture.

Crockett, of the Center of the American Experiment, told the reporter that she plans to challenge the resettlement program in court.

“I think of America, the great assimilator, as a rubber band, but with this — we’re at the breaking point,” she was quoted as saying. “These aren’t people coming from Norway, let’s put it that way. These people are very visible.”

The remarks were widely criticized as Islamophobic.

On Thursday, the center issued a statement condemning Crockett’s controversial comments.

“Center of the American Experiment welcomes all those who immigrate to Minnesota legally, including Somali refugees,” wrote John Hinderaker, president of the Twin Cities-based think tank. “The recent comment one of our employees made to the New York Times does not reflect the views and values of our organization. We envision a Minnesota where everyone is free to reap the rewards of their own efforts and build meaningful lives for their families.”

Crockett has apologized for her comments, saying that they don’t reflect the views of her employer — or herself.

“I regret the embarrassment to my colleagues who work so diligently to make our state a better place to live and work for all Minnesotans,” she said on social media. “I’ve always advocated taking personal responsibility for one’s actions and will strive to rebuild the relationships and trust that I have damaged.”

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