Matt Rosendale was born and raised in Maryland where he flunked out of college but still went on to be a successful real estate agent. In 2002 he moved to Glendive, county seat of Dawson County, Montana, in the far eastern part of the state. He reinvented himself as a cowboy and a far right politician. Dawson County is a pretty backward part of the state, that went for Trump with 77.9%, considerably higher than the state's 56.9%. Similarly, the state is 48% fully vaccinated but counties like Dawson-- 32% vaccinated-- are dragging it down. Although Montana's population has grown over the last decade, Glendive's has shrunk and is now 4,910, possibly because of the 2015 oil spill that contaminated the city's drinking water.
In 2010 Rosendale says he was drafted to run for the state House, won a very competitive 3-way primary and beat Democratic incumbent Dennis Getz, 52.7- 47.3%. Two years later he ran for an open state Senate seat and was eventually elected Majority Leader. In 2016 he was elected state Auditor and two years later his winning streak crashed and burned when he challenged Senator Jon Tester, who, despite an endorsement from Señor Trumpanzee, beat him.
Last year when psychopath Greg Gianforte gave up the congressional seat to run for governor, Rosendale was ready to run for Congress.The Democrats fielded a garbage GOP-lite EMILY's List candidate and, inevitably, crushed her with a double-digit margin. As an example of how extreme he's been in Congress, when only 21 members voted against giving the Capitol police a congressional medal of honor after the violent Trump coup, he was one of them. Whenever there's an opportunity to reiterate his racism, he's right on it. When the House voted-- in one of the most bipartisan roll calls on the year-- to increase the number of special immigrant visas for Afghan employees of the U.S. military by a very modest 8,000 people, Rosendale, a dedicated xenophobe, was one of only 16 who voted no-- along with other Republican bigots like Marjorie Traitor Greene (Q-GA), Paul Gosar (AZ), Andy Biggs (AZ), Lauren Boebert (Q-CO), Mo Brooks (AL), Jody Hice (GA) and Chip Roy (TX). Most Republican veterans-- like Michael Waltz, Peter Meijer, Brad Wenstrup, Adam Kinzinger, Dan Crenshaw, Don Bacon and Van Taylor-- were eager co-sponsors of the bill. Rosendale, who never served in the military, refused to listen to their pleas.
A few days ago we ran this map showing the distribution of the first several thousand Afghan refugees. Although Montana is big and empty and very much like Afghanistan geographically, just 75 immigrants were assigned to the state. That's one of the smallest number of any state, although the dual capitals of extremist bigotry, Wyoming and West Virginia, didn't get assigned any refugees. Still, as reported by CNN today, Rosendale is complaining about even 75 immigrants coming to his state. Veronica Stracqualursi and Lauren Fox reported that Rosendale was incendiary and claimed Biden is "flooding" Montana with terrorists. His hysteria "underscores the political challenges facing the administration as it begins to resettle more than 60,000 Afghan refugees inside the US over the next several weeks. 'I strongly oppose the resettlement of these Afghan nationals in Montana,' Rosendale said in a Twitter thread, arguing that the Biden administration's scramble to evacuate thousands of Afghans 'has made proper vetting of these individuals near impossible' and accused the Biden administration of 'incompetence' in its 'disastrously mismanaged withdrawal' from Afghanistan. He insisted the refugees be settled in other Muslim countries, not the U.S.
"As elected officials, it is our duty to protect the citizens we represent-- and I will not allow this Administration to compromise the safety of Montanans," added Rosendale, who was among the 16 House Republicans who in July opposed legislation to expand and streamline the Special Immigrant Visa program, which is designed to help resettle Afghan translators and other personnel who worked with the US military.
It's unclear what, if anything, Rosendale can do as a member of Congress to stop the resettlement, which has the public support of the state's Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte. A message left with Rosendale's office was not immediately returned.
Krish O'Mara Vignarajah, the president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, a faith-based non-profit that helps resettle refugees, rejected Rosendale's claims that the refugees are dangerous.
"These children and families are not terrorists-- they feared terrorism and fled the Taliban," O'Mara Vignarajah said in a statement. "These people faced danger precisely because they share our values, and to suggest otherwise is deeply disrespectful to those who risked their lives on our nation's behalf."
The Biden administration has stressed that Afghan refugees who arrived in the US have been thoroughly vetted, and intelligence, law enforcement and counterterrorism professionals have been conducting security screenings for all Afghans permitted to enter the US.
Afghans evacuees are screened more than once-- both at an intermediate country where they're taken ahead of arriving in the US and upon arrival in the US, according to officials and experts.
Although the Biden administration's plan to quickly evacuate Afghan applicants who have SIV status had widespread support on Capitol Hill and in public polling over the summer, the more than 60,000 Afghans being resettled in the US also include SIV applicants and those who were deemed at risk of Taliban reprisals.
The 75 refugees will be placed in Missoula and could start arriving as soon as next month, the Daily Montanan reported. Gianforte on Thursday welcomed "our fully-vetted Afghan allies who worked alongside us, have left their homes in the face of the Taliban's reemerging, merciless terror, and seek freedom and safety," according to local reports.
US national security adviser Jake Sullivan had previously said that background checks for Afghan evacuees arriving in the US include both biographic information and biometric vetting, such as voiceprints, iris scans, palm prints and facial photos.
A lengthy multi-step process also exists for Afghan SIV applicants to apply for visas to the US. To help with the backlog of applicants caused by the Taliban's rapid takeover of the country, the Biden administration increased State Department personnel to process visas and had the Department of Homeland Security work overtime on security checks.
For the sake of these poor families, I hope none of them are resettled in Glendive or anywhere in Dawson County.
UPDATE: Ted Lieu
Congressman Lieu wasn't aiming this specifically at Montana or even Rosendale but he did note that "In a display of textbook GOP hypocrisy, many congressional Republicans spent weeks crying crocodile tears about our allies being left behind in Afghanistan only to now oppose the resettlement of Afghan refugees. It's even worse when you consider that it was failed Republican policies that had our military engaged in a twenty-year, multi-trillion dollar nation building experiment in Afghanistan in the first place. We must not let the radical right wing nativists determine our immigration policies-- or any policies for that matter."