clock menu more-arrow no yes

Is Mike Huckabee right that refugees from hot countries hate Minnesota? An investigation.

Mike Huckabee said in an interview on John Gibson's Fox News Radio show today that the United States shouldn't be taking in Syrian refugees because it is cold in Minnesota.

The best thing about this statement is that it refutes itself. Minnesota is actually one of the most welcoming states in the country when it comes to refugees. In the 1980s, the Minneapolis–St. Paul area became the top destination in the US for Hmong refugees from Southeast Asia after the Vietnam War. And starting in the 1990s, Minnesota has been one of the leading destinations for Somali refugees as well.

In 2014 (the last year for which data is available), 2,232 refugees from other countries settled in Minnesota — giving it a refugees-per-capita rate double the US average.

Here's where those refugees were coming from:

minnesota refugees minnpost Sam Brodey / MinnPost

Here is what the weather looks like in Minneapolis through the end of November:

minnesota weather Weather.com

Here is the weather for the same time period in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia:

mogadishu forecast Weather.com

And here is the forecast for Naypyidaw, the capital of Myanmar:

myanmar forecast Weather.com

What a tremendous difference! No refugee would be happy going from Somalia or Myanmar to Minnesota, right? They would probably want to leave as soon as they could!

Yeah, about that.

The US Office of Refugee Resettlement also tracks "secondary" refugee migration: refugees who are initially settled in one state but move to another state instead. According to that data, 2,133 refugees living elsewhere in the United States moved to Minnesota in 2014 — more than twice as many as moved to any other state. Only 107 refugees left Minnesota for other (possibly warmer) climes.

It turns out that climate isn't actually that important in determining whether refugees can successfully integrate into the US. 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."

Contra Mike Huckabee, those are things Americans — even Minnesotans — can definitely provide.

Sign up for the newsletter The Weeds

Understand how policy impacts people. Delivered Fridays.