A Fact Check Of Stewart Mills’ New Campaign Ad On Syrian Refugees

A screenshot from the new Mills ad.
A screenshot from the new Mills ad.

Stewart Mills released a new TV ad Monday, and it’s all about Syrian refugees.

The ad, entitled “Syrians,” makes sure to say “ISIS” three times in the first ten seconds.

“ISIS wants to to infiltrate America – and they’re using Syrians to do it,” the ad’s voiceover says. “But Rick Nolan supports bringing 100,000 unvetted Syrians to America before the end of the year.”

For the “using Syrians to do it” statement, the ad cites an article by the Washington Times which in turn cites a different article from the Guardian which quotes a NATO general, General Philip Breedlove, in command of European operations. His words in March that ISIS was “spreading like cancer” among refugees are used in the ad as well, as unspoken text. However, the actual number of ISIS fighters that have returned to Europe? An estimated 1,500, according to Breedlove himself — among hundreds of thousands of refugees.

“Pressed by reporters to back up his assertion with statistics, Breedlove said: ‘I can’t give you a number on the estimate of the flow,'” the Guardian article said. 

As for the “Rick Nolan supports bringing 100,000 unvetted Syrians to America” statement, the ad cites my article from last November. Nolan laid out his position in this letter sent to President Obama nearly a year ago by Congressman David Cicilline of Rhode Island, to which Nolan and close to 50 other members of Congress were signatories. 

Not only does the letter specifically reference the existing screening process that subjects refugees to background checks, it also promises that the lawmakers will

do everything we can to ensure that, if steps are taken to accommodate additional refugees, there will be adequate additional resources for U.S. resettlement agencies, and for security checks, in order to meet the increased demand.

So to say that Nolan “supports” unvetted refugees, or that the refugees would be unvetted, has little basis — especially considering that large swathes of Syrian refugees coming to America is basically still hypothetical.

As my colleague Chelsey Perkins found in our article on the refugee issue, it’s unlikely Syrians would even come to Minnesota at all, because resettlement groups want to put the refugees among their own kind, and no major Syrian population exists here. It’s highly unlikely any of the 8th District voters who see this ad will ever see a Syrian refugee in person.

The letter Nolan signed was pie-in-the-sky naive, but not for the reasons the ad says. As it turns out, it was impractical to think in September that the U.S. could possibly muster the political will, practical resources and moral fortitude to settle 100,000 Syrian refugees. We hadn’t even gotten 10,000 in so far this fiscal year as of May.

Nolan also isn’t completely clean when it comes to succumbing to fear of refugees, however. The same week he said he felt compelled as a Christian to let the refugees in, he voted for the “SAFE” act, which would have further limited refugee intake. 

The new Mills ad goes on to break his promise in May that he wouldn’t personally attack Nolan. Mills has often complained of the personal attack ads by the Democrats in the 2014 election that cast him as a pampered rich kid.

However, Mills’ own ad says Nolan is “weak and dangerous.” Not Nolan’s policies or positions — Nolan himself.

3 Responses

  1. Angela Ringstrom

    Why don’t you fact check Nolan’s ads and leave them on the front page for awhile? I am sure you will find more wrong with his ads.

  2. I’m glad that Mills is finally getting called out on his ads. I think he needs a project. People I know that worked at Mills say that how he presents himself as a hard worker is not true. If he does happen to win it’s going to be a big eye opener when he gets to Washington and finds out that he can’t always get his way.

  3. Dale Bartel

    Do you ever fact check democrats? Your paper seems to always find negative things to print about republicans. I am sorry I subscribed.

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