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Minnesota governor candidates weigh in on 'birthright' issue

Democrat Tim Walz, left, and Republican Jeff Johnson are vying for the Minnesota governor's seat. Walz is leading in the polls, but Johnson is narrowing the gap with less than two weeks to go until Election Day, Nov. 6. Forum News Service file photo

ST. PAUL — President Donald Trump said on Monday, Oct. 29, he believes not all people born in America should be citizens, as guaranteed under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.

With Election Day looming, one Minnesota governor candidate was quick to share his opinion.

Democrat Tim Walz said this in a statement to the St. Paul Pioneer Press: “The president does not have the right to change the constitution. As I travel across the state, I hear from Minnesotans who are fed up with the politics of fear and division. They are ready for a new approach — one where we put effectiveness over ideology, patriotism over partisanship, and hope over fear.”

Walz was referring to Trump’s notion that he could end “birthright citizenship” with the stroke of his pen, via an executive order. Most legal scholars, as well as Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, say the president doesn’t have such power.

Republican Jeff Johnson, whose candidacy has been endorsed by Trump, wouldn’t say Tuesday what he thinks.

“Jeff does not wish to comment on that issue at this time,” spokeswoman Christina Ridgeway said.

Even though a governor’s power over immigration is minimal compared to federal officials, the issue has surfaced in the campaign, as polls show it’s on the minds of Minnesota voters, especially Republicans.

As Walz’s quote suggests, he’s criticized much of the discussion as being divisive, but he often hasn’t spoken in specifics, other than to say immigrants in general have added much to the state.

Johnson has said that as well. He’s also said that Minnesota at least temporarily should halt its willingness to participate in federal refugee resettlement programs. In recent decades, such programs have contributed to the state’s populations of Hmong, Somali and Karen peoples.

Regarding illegal immigration, Walz has defended local law enforcement agencies that decide to not ask people their immigration status and instead leave that aspect of law enforcement to federal agencies.

Johnson has said that’s wrong and has criticized Walz’ support for wanting to make Minnesota a “sanctuary state.”